Chinese cuisine has incredible diversity in flavor across different regions. Spicy Sichuan dishes and dim sums are probably the most popular forms in America but there are other lesser well-known regions that also produce some amazing dishes. I haven’t had much experience from the dishes of Yunnan, a southwestern province of China, and was certainly intrigued to find out a former chef of now shuttered wd-50, Simone Tong, has decided to open up a modest noodle shop featuring mixian, a kind of rice noodle that I wasn’t familiar with. Americans know all about ramen and dan dan noodles, but does mixian offer another viable alternative in the Asian noodle department? My wife Jun and I are certainly inclined to agree as we had a pretty satisfying dinner at Little Tong recently.
When you dine at Little Tong, don’t skip the appetizers. We didn’t expect the spicy kick of seasoned house pickles to be so addictive, and salted cucumbers with the so-called bang bang sauce turned out to be another excellent starter. The pork wonton was slightly but not unpleasantly salty in seasoning, and if you are a fan of beef tartare, the one from Little Tong will certainly make you happy. While Jun thought the beef tartare could lose a bit of Sichuan butter, she nevertheless liked the overall texture of the raw beef that we were able to put on top of pulled bread for something extra.
Onto the main noodle dishes, we went for two, one called Little Pot Mixian and the other called Grandma Chicken Mixian. Of the two dishes, we slightly preferred the latter with chicken broth and confit. The clean flavor of the chicken broth was quite delightful; Jun remarked the depth of it reminded her of a Korean favorite samgyetang chicken soup. I also thought it would also be a wonderful hangover cure if you had too much fan from last night. On the other hand, we both thought the pork broth of Little Pot Mixian tasted slightly funky, but once we started adding some chili oil and fermented chili, the dish became significantly better with some spicy kick, and it certainly helped that minced pork belly was adding some depth as well.
The restaurant doesn’t accept reservations and although it got nearly full by the end of our meal, the table turnover is relatively quick so you won’t have to wait much. There are some beer and sake options to complement your meal. Overall, Little Tong is a welcome addition to the dynamic Chinese food scene in New York City, and I would definitely love to try other mixian dishes on my next visit.
- Creativity: 8.0/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 177 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003
Telephone: (929) 367-8664