When I write about restaurants on Instagram, they’re usually brief takes accompanied by a photo or two. (You can see my feed right here on ethnojunkie.com, updated almost daily, by selecting the “Instagram” category from my home page – no signup required.) But because of Instagram’s character count limitations, it’s often necessary to break up a review into several parts. This one originally appeared as three posts, published on January 14-16, 2019.
On beyond the eastern terminus of the 7 train in Flushing lies an overwhelming phalanx of Korean eateries on Northern Boulevard. One notable exception is Singapore-centric Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro at 161-16 Northern Blvd, approximately a three block walk from the Broadway stop on the LIRR Port Washington branch and definitely worth a visit. Here, in no special order, are some of the dishes we ordered.
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Hokkien Fried Noodles – egg noodles comingling with rice noodles, seafood (I saw fish cake, shrimp and squid), and a healthy dollop of belachan (dried shrimp paste) on the side, in what the menu described as a seafood broth. I see the word “broth” and I expect soup but I’m pleased to report that it was more of a sauce, and a delicious one at that. The belachan which I’d normally describe as aggressive, wasn’t at all overpowering and was a welcome addition to the dish.
Otah Otah (you may have seen otak otak on Indonesian menus) is a deftly seasoned mixture of fish and shrimp paste wrapped in a banana leaf and grilled. Each juicy bite provided a burst of seafood flavor with a gentle kick. Incidentally, the repetition of a word as part of a grammatical construct is common in Malay, and in linguistics is referred to as reduplication (a word which itself seems redundant); the Indonesian cumi cumi (squid) and gado gado (a vegetable salad) come to mind. Often, as in the case of otah², appending a “²” to the word is used as shorthand. Yum².
If you’ve never indulged in Hainanese Chicken, this is the place to go. It’s slow poached and comes to the table pale yellowish-white in color with slippery slick skin. Always remarkably tender, this version seems extra juicy and practically melts in your mouth; even the white meat is extraordinary. Here, it’s served with two sauces, a potent red chili sauce and a green herbal sauce the menu describes as pesto. The mild chicken and formidable sauces are a yin-yang combination that coexist in perfect harmony. I’m accustomed to seeing a particularly delicious rice made with chicken stock and chicken fat accompanying this dish, particularly in the Thai variation, khao man gai, but I didn’t find it on the table; a closer inspection of the menu after I left revealed Hainanese Chicken Rice as a side. I regret missing it; don’t make the same mistake.
Look for Cai Tow Kueh (you may have seen it as chai tow kueh), another Singapore favorite, in the Snacks section of the menu. It consists of chunks of radish cake (daikon), steamed first then stir-fried along with bits of egg and vegetables in a sweet soy sauce that clings to the cai tow kueh; it’s another treat that gets high marks for both texture and flavor. It’s also available with belachan sauce instead of the sweet rendition; it would have been overkill to order one of each so I’ll just have to go back!
Soft shell crab is always delicious but it’s especially delectable in Yummy Tummy’s deep fried Chili Sauce Soft Shell Crab, bathed in spicy goodness. It was surrounded by fried mantou poised to soak up the amazing sauce – so good we asked for an additional order of just the buns to ensure that nary a drop would go to waste.
Bah Kut Teh is a mild, slow cooked pork rib soup made with Chinese herbs; the small size came with two ribs along with a few other bits of pork and some mushrooms. By itself, it left something to be desired, but it was served with a much needed sauce that was akin to Chinese dumpling sauce.
We ordered the Durian Cheesecake for dessert and it was wonderful. I’m a huge fan of the King of Fruits so I may be biased, but the layer of durian purée was sweet, gentle and perfect for first timers.
Yummy Tummy Asian Bistro is located at 161-16 Northern Blvd, Queens.