Best of the Rest: Gu Shine in Flushing
The Chinese have cultivated a legacy of fantastically rich cuisine, one that varies by class, region and ethnic background.
We're quite familiar with Cantonese, Hunan and Szechuan cuisines, whose personalities have blossomed in Manhattan's Chinatown. But what Manhattan unfortunately has in smaller bulk are other styles of Chinese food, such Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine, but perhaps more importantly, Taiwanese cuisine, one that many cannot differentiate from Chinese cuisine.
True, there's Excellent Pork Chop House by the Chinatown Civic Center and NYC Cravings Truck in Flatiron, but those serve only one or two well-known specialty dishes. To experience a more conclusive sampling of Taiwanese cooking, you have to journey to Queens.
Take the 7 train to Flushing and, within a five-minute walking distance of the train station, you'll find a restaurant called Gu Shine (which, translated into mandarin, means "home"). You might easily miss it with its tiny storefront, but you'll immediately sense a homey feeling upon entering the eatery.
The key here is to not be overwhelmed by the large number of menu items, but to zone in on a few of the most critical ones. Structure your meal around a couple of dishes from the "Taiwanese Cuisine" and "House Special" sections.
The following are must-try dishes: sweet rice with mushroom and meat, which combines glutinous rice with soy sauce, rice wine, shallots and other ingredients; the oyster pancake, made gelatinous with tapioca starch, folded with a garland of chrysanthemum leaves and topped with a soy-infused sweet and spicy sauce (this is actually more of an omelet that has a soft, sticky texture); chicken with basil in casserole, "three cup chicken" (so named because the sauce is made from a cup each of rice wine, sesame oil and soy sauce); sautéed watercress with garlic and sautéed clams, which are cooked with sweet red peppers, basil, rice wine and minced garlic.
Many classic home-style Taiwanese dishes are simple, and use only key seasonings such as soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil, and ingredients like pickled daikon, fermented black beans and a local variety of basil. All of this creates hearty flavors and texture-centric foods that are the foundation of simple, rustic dishes. None of it is greasy or excessively oily, and no pungent elements are immediately identified. Rather, the aromas subtly merge to produce a palatable experience.
It does require some planning, but any adventurous eater should definitely consider heading out to Flushing just for this restaurant. The remarkable food is absolutely worth the trip.
Gu Shine,135-38 39th Ave., Flushing, 718-939-5468
Take the 7 train to Flushing Main Street
The don't miss dish: