Best Regional Chinese - 2009
M & T; Metro Café
RobtS: You know, Sarah, this is a real toughie. 2009 has been the year of the regional Chinese restaurant in the city, and between the new food stalls and stand-alone restaurants in Flushing, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge, I could name a dozen spectacular restaurants. Instead, I'll just throw up my hands and say that the cuisine of Shandong was the one that most amazed me. There are currently two places that serve it in a Korean neighborhood in south Flushing. M & T is my favorite. SarahDG: So what should I get? RobtS: The wobbly mung jelly in black vinegar, crispy pork belly with celery, and shrimp stir-fried with beef tendon made for some of the most fascinating eating in town this year. Black vinegar is powerful magic. SarahDG: I fell in love with Metro Café this year. RobtS: Sounds French. SarahDG: No kidding—bad name. It's a Sichuan restaurant run by an extremely sweet, hardworking couple. It represents the spreading of true Sichuan food around the city. RobtS: What an awesome trend! SarahDG: The cold ox tripe and tongue in Sichuan-peppercorn-and-chile sauce is particularly good. Chewy slices of honeycomb tripe slicked with a brick-red hot sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds, cilantro, and chopped peanuts. RobtS: We think alike—I always go for the tripe and tongue. SarahDG: Tripe is an excellent sauce-delivery system! RobtS: Hey, this was supposed to be a smackdown. We didn't really do much smacking. SarahDG: Yes, we've been very restrained. Until next year . . .