Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Flavors of Henan

On a Chowhounder's report, it was impossible to avoid the newest, most unique addition to Chinatown (especially since I was conveniently in the area for dinner). That night, we found ourselves at Henan Flavor. On Forsyth across from Sarah Roosevelt Park, Henan Flavor is the Manhattan branch of Flushing's Henan Fengwei. Billing itself as the "First Henan Restaurant in East America," there really is nothing like Henan Flavor in all of Chinatown.

Robyn Lee took much better pictures of our meal at the original location than my typically crappy photography, but be aware, they show the expanded menu at Henan Fengwei. Here, there are no cold dishes or casseroles, but the abbreviated menu features handmade noodle soups and the imposing "Big Tray of Chicken."
For a Sunday night between 9-10pm, the narrow restaurant was actually fairly full, with people coming in and out for eat in and takeout. The lady running the show is actually Fujianese, which is probably good for business, since this part of Chinatown is their territory.

The pancake with pork contains minced pork and a couple pieces of cilantro slipped into a pancake and placed under a panini press. At only $2, it gives the similar version at Xi'an a run for its money.

We got the big tray of chicken and halfway through they dumped an order of their rustic handmade noodles on top. These soaked up the spicy, cuminy oil better than expected. The sauce looks incendiary, but has only a gentle heat. The draw is the complex flavor with a background of star anise infused in the dangerously cleavered chunks of chicken. 

Most of all I liked the potatoes hidden in the oil, which inhale the sauce even better than the noodles.

The lamb lo mein had more of the handmade noodles along with glass noodles, wood ears, goji berries and lamb pieces in a mild lamb broth (I say mild, but I actually really liked it.) The waitress said this was their specialty, but I much prefer the chicken. Either way, we had a great meal for only $20. I'll be back soon.
Interestingly, I recently tried another Henan place in the Golden Shopping Mall (I wonder if they'd take issue with Henan Flavor's bold claim.) Taken there by Joe DiStefano with a group of two others-- Jin Li and Betty, we snacked on Lamb Noodle Soup at the conveniently named "Lamb Noodle Soup" in the Golden Shopping Mall's typically spartan surroundings. 

The lamb broth was deeply flavored-- as intense a lamb broth as I've ever had. Two types of noodles, handmade and glass noodles (exactly like those at Henan Flavor), plus shredded tofu skins and wood ear mushrooms complemented the broth and lamb pieces. 

I can assure you that the next time I'm in the Golden Shopping Mall (no matter the weather) I will be picking up a bowl of this soup.

Thanks to Joe for leading us here. If you're interested in noshing on some food while picking his brain, Joe leads food tours through Queens, so check out his site.

He Nan Flavor
68B Forsyth Street (between Hester and Grand)
New York, NY 10002

(212) 625-8299
Henan Flavor on Urbanspoon

Henan Fengwei 
136-31 41st Avenue
Flushing, NY 11355
(716) 762-1818
Henan Feng Wei on Urbanspoon


  1. I have only eaten at the Flushing branch... do you think they both are top notch? Glad to see one in Manhattan too!

  2. Jared, I am in no way an expert on Henan cusine, but the Manhattan branch compared favorably to the one in Flushing, except for the smaller menu. It's too bad, I liked those cold dishes a lor (the lady said there was not enough room).

    Really excited to have this spot in Manhattan...

  3. Nutritious Lamb Noodles serves the best lamb soup I've ever had! It's like they plucked that bowl right out of my dreams. Dreams about lamb soup.

  4. Yeah dude, I've been craving it. Next time I'm in Flushing for sure.