Monday, January 23, 2017


January 28 marks Lunar New Year Day with the Year of the Rooster, a day to share with family, friends and lots of traditional food.  Why wait until then to dine at yet another Chinese restaurant.  This time it was Golden Palace Gourmet that serves “authentic Northern Chinese food, handmade noodle and dumplings”.  Not all Chinese restaurants are of the same cuisine as years ago we had gotten used to the basic Cantonese style or the spicier Szechuan.   I don’t eat alone as I venture into Asian restaurants with Taiwanese-American Luchia Meihua Lee and her husband Ken Howell, who does not either understand or speak Chinese.  
Guan Jing is the owner of Golden Palace, located at 140-09 Cherry Avenue in downtown Flushing.  Ms. Jing owns a few other restaurants that are located in Manhattan.  The cuisine represents a city in China, Liaoning, located in the Northeast near North Korea.  That may be the reason that Kimchi and another spicy appetizer of shredded potato in hot sauce was automatically brought to the table.  I requested a small glass of milk just in case.   As it turned out, the potato appetizer seemed spicier than the kimchi.  Now you get that I don’t necessarily enjoy hot spicy foods.   Luchia had no difficulty.   

Ken is a vegetarian.  I am not and it is always interesting being able to taste vegetarian dishes.  Yes, we pigged out as we usually do and then take home the leftovers.   The Crispy Lamb with Chili Pepper sounded pretty good to me now that I gained a bit more tolerance to the “hot”.  I think that seeing the red and green hot peppers should have alerted me but my problem is that I didn’t realize that cumin was a main spice.  I don’t favor the taste of cumin and am a bit allergic to it.  Luchia thought it was delicious.  

One of Ken’s choices was the sautéed Potato, Green Pepper and Eggplant that was in a vegetarian brown sauce.  I was able to taste this one.  Great alternative to other proteins, I truly loved the flavors.  

Although I was skipping beef for a while, I noticed a photo of Fried Beef with Scallions.  The chunks of beef were on bones.  I love eating food on bones…so much juicier.   The brown sauce made the dish even more savory.  

Another vegetable dish. Not sure of the name of this one made with bean curd skins sliced up to look like a semi-wide noodle.  These are just one of many handmade noodles created on the premises.  The dish contained green beans, mung bean noodles and scallions.   I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t eaten the saucy or spicy foods prior as in comparison, it tasted bland.   That’s not to say that Ken didn’t appreciate it.   Personally I think the sauce used for the sautéed potato dish would have added a greater flavor.  

Guan Jing stopped over many times to inquire about our enjoyment of the food.  That is when I heard about the dumplings made on the premises and then looked at the menu.  Ms. Jing does understand and speak English but it was a lot easier to have Luchia speaking with her and translating to me with any questions that I had.  

The choices of dumplings were longer than any other restaurant I’ve been to.  I’ll just list: Seafood dumpling with pork, egg and chives (This is the one that I ordered); Seafood Dumpling with pork; Sour Cabbage Dumpling; Leek Dumpling with pork; Tomato Egg Dumpling (sounded like a good one for breakfast); Fish Celery Dumplings; Radish Beef Dumplings; Fennel Dumplings; Green Dumpling – spinach, scrambled egg and vermicelli ; Lamb Dumpling.  What I mostly treasured about these dumplings was that they were not only packed with the ingredients but were comparatively thin skinned to most that I have eaten.  It allows me to enjoy the steamed dumpling without the heavy amount of flour.  You can buy the dumplings wholesale frozen with a price range from $15 to $22 dollars for 50 pieces depending upon your choice.
Since Golden Palace is authentic, you won’t be able to get ice cream for dessert.  There are “Sweet Dishes” one of which is Pumpkin Rice Cakes.  The rice gives glutinous texture vs. the chew of rice and not overly sweet.   I just think we should all have a sweet new year.  Gong Xi Fa Cai.
Golden Palace is open 7 days a week from noon until midnight (718-886-4383).

Monday, January 16, 2017

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Thomas Chen is president of the manufacturing firm Crystal Window & Door Systems based in Flushing. He came to the United States from his native Taiwan in 1982 at the age of 27. After working for several years for others and learning English at night, he started a small manufacturing business in Queens. In 1990, Mr. Chen launched Crystal Window & Door Systems. The company is now one of the top 40 fenestration manufacturers in North America with additional production facilities in Chicago, St. Louis, Riverside, CA and soon to have a 226-acre plant in Benton, PA.  There is no branch in Holmes, NY.  Yet, he is creating a 200-acre space at this location and calling it Crystal Park, located 65 miles North of NYC.

Mr. Chen is a longtime patron of the arts, and established a corporate foundation in 2002 to advance and preserve Taiwanese art and culture. In fact, Thomas Chen is Vice President of the Taiwanese American Arts Council. For many years, an art gallery he created within the Queens factory building of Crystal Window and Door Systems exhibited the works of local artists. Mr. Chen has sponsored exhibits at Flushing Town Hall, the Queens Museum, and other locations around the New York metropolitan area.

I had the joyous opportunity to take a Thanksgiving Day road trip, along with TAAC Executive Director Luchia Meihua Lee, Ken Howell, Taiwanese artist Catherine Lan and journalist Emily Chang.  Prior to Crystal Park’s entrance an art piece resembling a car sits at the side of the road entitled “Sun in Action” by Lin Shih-Pao.   A logo of crystals designed by Chiehping Chen greets the main gate.  A house rests at the top of the hill, where we will later meet with his employee and their family.  Walking down to the first level, we are able to look out at only some of what is to come including another stone carving, a poem by Tingehiam Wang written in Chinese.
Luchia translated for me.
As long as
Snow has image, rain has trace,
Thunder has sound, water has pattern
There are poems.

If people no longer write poems,
Birds come to write,
Winds come to write,
Snails come to write.

Fish cannot take bait as food,
Flowers cannot choose vases as home.

A thinking reed
Is only a spine.

Under anger, no wisdom
Under jealously, no virtue.

We can view artistic wooden paths, a gazebo, hammock hung between two trees, and a distant chicken coop with the sound of a rooster crowing.  It is just perfect as this coming Lunar New Year marks the Year of the Rooster. 

Not being mobile enough I stayed in the house while the others explored the property.  Tom, meanwhile, continued working on the land digging on a fork lift. “I have watched this mountain land being transformed from a neglected rural setting towards a future multi-functional park and future artist village with art, recreation, farm and breath-taking landscape around the lake”, Luchia said. “I have arranged for many artists to visit since 2014 and were all met with a stunning experience of nature.” 

“Crystal Park carries the dream of Thomas Chen who was born and grew up in a beautiful southern village in Pingdong, Taiwan,” she continues. “If he had not been an entrepreneur, he would have been an artist. His Crystal Park will be a retreat for us to create, exhibit, enjoy and exercise; an artist village for not only Taiwanese Americans, but for all US artists that have the spirit and need the space to gain energy.”

Catherine Lan grew up in Australia where she learned her art forms and focus on nature. “It’s another world from New York City”, she commented about Crystal Park, “where you can get away for the weekend or a one-day trip.  I am really excited that I will be able to go to the park when it is completed, although it is open for visits.  I love the fresh air and even more the inspiration that it will provide me for some of my future works”.

“With such a large area, there are many places to hike”, Tom said.  “It is a great way for me to teach my international employees about American outdoor culture.” Future plans for this “artist colony” include gardens, farming areas, artist studio spaces, an art museum and the commission of outdoor sculptures by Taiwanese and international artists.

Incidentally, Crystal Window and Door Systems is open to the public but only sells to contractors.  Tom said that he welcomes people to come in and learn about the types of products that would suit them best for their home.  The company is located at 31-10 Whitestone Expressway.  781-961-7300. You can view more about Crystal Park at