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The Chinese Quest ended 2015 with a bang! It was back to Flushing for the Quest. Joining us for the evening was Mee Jet Li, who just happens to be Chinese, and knows a thing or two about Chinese cuisine. Her expertise and upbeat style added alot of fun to the evening. Our latest adventure has taken us to Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet, located at 59-14 A Main Street in Flushing. From the outside, you would willingly pass this place a hundred times. Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet is a very small restaurant with only about 8 tables, and the ambiance is (well, how should I put this?), non existent! This restaurant is just down and dirty (not literally) Chinese food. The style of food is Taiwanese. Taiwan (the Republic of China) is an island to the east of mainland China. During the Chinese civil war, the communist party of China took control of mainland China. Members of the Republic of China fled, and relocated its government to the island of Taiwan. Taiwanese cuisine is spicier than Cantonese, but not as spicy as Szechuan. The amount of spice this evening was just perfect for this Mee. I am a big fan of the Taiwanese style of cooking.
I started the evening ordering my usual Tsing Tao. True to its Taiwanese origins, they only carried Taiwanese beer. I was excited to try a new brand. Wow, what a disappointment! It was served not very cold, almost luke warm, and had a creamy consistency. Not very good. I want my Tsing Tao!!! Our guest took the lead in ordering our dinner. The walls are covered with paper signs in Chinese, that ring out the latest specials.
The first course consisted of Minced Pork with Black Bean and Leeks, Three Cup Chicken, and Crispy Salted Chicken. The Minced Pork with Black Bean and Leeks consisted of very small pieces of pork which were extremely hard to pick up with chop sticks. A very simple, tasty starter. It was prepared with the right amount of jalapeno, which gave every third bite a nice, spicy surprise. The two chicken dishes were very good. The Three Cup Chicken seems to be a specialty of the house. The chicken was all thigh meat lightly seasoned with ginger and soy, creating an extremely moist texture and succulent flavor. The Crispy Salted Chicken was deep fried and crispy, but not overly oily. Thankfully, it was not over salted which is often the case. Great picnic food were my thoughts as I was devouring the chicken. We are off to a very good start!
The vegetable for the evening was Chinese Cabbage. It had a nice mild taste with a hint of garlic. The only complaint was that it was a bit greasy. Time to try a fish dish. We ordered the Whole Fish. The waiter claims the fish is Tilapia, but it did not look like it. It was cooked perfectly with just hints of ginger and scallions. The taste was good enough for me to suck the cheeks right off the face of the fish.
Next up was our staple, Spare Ribs. The ribs were braised short ribs with a strong meaty taste. I enjoyed them, but I am partial to the tried and true old time pork ribs that are smothered in duck sauce, commonly found in Cantonese style LI restaurants. The last dish of the night was Shrimp with Fine Spices. The shrimp was served with the shells on. The trick to eating them is to suck and peel the shrimp in your mouth. This allows you to really enjoy the flavor. Once again, a terrific dish.
2015 was a real mixed bag of experiences for The Quest. Some restaurants were fabulous, while others just plain sucked. Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet was a very enjoyable restaurant. This place was consistently good and everything we ate was fabulous. The Taiwanese style of cooking really works for me; not too bland and not too spicy. It is a must stop if you are going to Flushing to enjoy some Chinese food. It is located right off the LIE, so you do not have to travel into the heart of Flushing. Be mindful of the fact that the restaurant is not so big, so there might be a wait for a table. Give it a try and tell them The Chinese Quest sent you.
All for now,
Mee Tsu Yan