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A slew of new Banquet-style Chinese restaurants recently opened on Northern Boulevard on the strip from Bayside to Flushing, NY in Queens. Canton Manor at 220-15 Northern Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361 (map), is the first we encountered traveling west on Northern Blvd. It was time to find out why Canton Manor is always crowded and lines can often be seen with many Asian families waiting outside for a table to free up.
Is the fact that you only see Asians inside and outside the restaurant an indication that this is the real deal? That is the hypothesis we were going to test this evening.
IF only Asians are seen eating at a Chinese restaurant, THEN the food will be authentic.
Independent Variable: A Chinese restaurant with ONLY (present company excluded… but, perhaps they didn’t notice) bonafide Asian patrons, staff, chefs, and managers.
Dependent Variable: The menu and visual observation
|Can we be certain that a Chinese restaurant that only has Asian Diners, will in fact only serve authentic Chinese Cuisine?
|We will review the menu for authentic Chinese dishes
|Determine the percentage of dishes that are authentic.
|Canton Manor, aside from us, only had Asian diners. Every time I have driven past, all I saw was Asian Diners eating, and Asian patrons waiting for a table.
|If only authentic Chinese dishes are on the menu, we can deduce that a Chinese restaurant only serves authentic Chinese cuisine.
|Criteria for success:
99.99% of the dishes on the menu are authentic, the hypothesis will be validated.
Canton Manor recently opened at the site of the former Korean BCD Tofu House. A complete renovation was performed, new signage was put up, and it has been PACKED since opening! We looked forward to the first step on our journey down Northern Boulevard. Ample parking in their private lot, in the area infamous for a scarcity of parking, got them off to a good start. As one would expect from a newly opened restaurant, the restaurant was bright, clean, welcoming, AND deafening. The acoustics left a lot to be desired. Trying to speak, even to each other, took much effort to be heard. And to speak with our waitress? Well, perhaps something was lost in translation.
Evidence: Exhibit M (for menu)
On the menu, we found these decidedly Americanized Chinese dishes (WTH?):
- General Tso’s Chicken
- Crispy Orange Flavor Beef
- Chicken & Broccoli
- Jumbo Shrimp with Walnuts in Mayonnaise Sauce
Yet, the restaurant is packed with Asians as far as the eye can see. I can’t imagine anyone there ordering one of those dishes.
On the very same menu, were some decidedly authentic dishes such as Duck Tongue (prepared at least four different ways), Pork Intestine, Snails with Fish Sauce, Congee (aka Jook), including Slice Fish and Preserved Egg Congee, and a dozen other varieties, Frog Casserole, Goose Web and sea Cucumber, Dry Squid with Chives, Buddha’s Favorite Superior Soup (priced at $79.99 per bowl), and more.
So, it’s got dishes to appeal to the discriminating Asian family.
The hypothesis is definitely being put to the test here. Our minds are swirled with contradictions that our heads spinning. Time to wrap our hands, clasping chopsticks, to resolve this conundrum.
Time to Dine
We wanted to try a few dishes and opted for three appetizers to start. A broad sampling, however, doesn’t mean that we wanted three fried appetizers. But somehow that’s what we got.
Crispy Seafood Roll – We were off to a promising start. This dish was fresh, tasty, and a nice way to whet our appetites for the dishes to follow.
Fried Calamari – Any momentum we were building up quickly, was quickly dashed, as our palate slammed on the brakes. Another fried dish (though you knew that already), this dish, unlike the Crispy Seafood Roll, was dry, crispy, and lacked any flavor. By the time we were a few bites into the calamari, yet another fried dish was served. Please, dear G-D. No more fried food. Please?
Fried Spare Ribs – Disappointed that there weren’t BBQ spareribs on the menu, we somehow ended up with this. More fried breading sucking the life out of the spareribs. And for good measure, it stomped on this dish. The ribs were bite-sized and if you weren’t careful to avoid the bones which were in some pieces. It was kind of like navigating through a minefield. If the bones didn’t get us, all the fried food would.
(Please click on the gallery controls to scroll through the images)
At this point, we had to take control of the ordering the rest of the way, or we would likely have received ER vouchers with preferred parking, along with the bill at the end of the meal.
Jumbo Shrimp with Bok Choy – We got talked out of the Shrimp with Walnuts, with a rumpled up nose, and it was suggested we go with this dish, but with Bok Choy as our vegetable, which we wanted. The Shrimp was ok, Nice size, but again, seemed to lack any flavor. The Bok Choy was bok choy, though again, tasteless.
Steak Kew – My favorite dish. We needed something meaty. This satisfied this need. Bite-sized morsels of juicy beef, though ever so slightly salty, it was the best dish of the lot.
Young Chow Fried Rice – Rice or Noodles? Noodles or Rice? We should have ordered a noodle dish. This dish had no presence. It made no statement when a statement was called for. This was not the right time for it to say, “No Comment”.
By this time, we just wanted to wrap up this experience. Though we were left with the question…
Why is the restaurant packed? Why do people wait outside for a table? We tried to spy, with our little eyes, what was served at the table around us. To my amazement, it looked a lot like what we had. Though one table was brought three Peking Ducks and another Lobster.
Our hypothesis was the correct one to ask, but our conclusion was unsatisfactory. I preferred the Chinese food at Mogu Chinese Kitchen, where no Asians were present, and the decidedly Americanized. Yet, it was packed with flavor.
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)