Trying Lan Sheng’s Only Under $10 Signature Dish
About a week ago we told you that the Village Voice named Lan Sheng one of the best restaurants in New York. VV listed the Chongqing Braised Fish as a dish to try. So of course I took a gander at the menu and the $24 price tag stopped me dead in my tracks. It was just a tad bit out of the ML budget, even if one wants to splurge a little. Thankfully there was another dish on the signature items section of the menu that did stand out: Stewed Spareribs with Rice Powder (pretty much because it was the only signature item on the menu that’s less than $10!) Of course I had to get in on this action.
What is this mysterious pile of meat-ish looking thing? In Mandarin it’s roughly called “Fen zhen pai gu” which would literally translate to something like Powder Steam Ribs. The powder or fen in this case is referring to rice powder. And it’s supposed to coat the ribs before they get steamed. Having tasted this dish in a non-restaurant setting before, I was caught off guard by the appearance of the version at Lan Sheng. The reason is because this dish actually takes a long time to prepare and when it’s done with a lot of care, you can make out the ribs very easily. With the ones at Lan Sheng, it’s more like a big pile of hot mess. Thankfully that big pile is actually really good!
Now, I preface the rest of this by saying that you have to forgo the idea that you want textural contrast in a dish to be happy. This dish can most easily be described as soft and spicy. It may be a little one-not for some. For others who want to try a spicy dish that’s not touted often at Sichuan restaurants, this is a great dish to try. The ribs themselves resemble a meatier version of the spare ribs you’d get at dim sum. The difference is that these ribs are enveloped in rice powder that’s soaked in chili oil.
Folks like to say that some dishes are gateway drugs into more hardcore dishes and the Stewed Spareribs with Rice Powder is like that for Lan Sheng’s Signature dishes.
Lan Sheng, 60 W. 39th St. (btw. 5+6th) 212-575-8899