New York is not hurting for noodles that originated in Sichuan, Xi’an, or Fuzhou. But for those looking for Yunnanese rice noodles or mixian, there’s long been only one place to reliably get a quality bowl: Borough Park’s Yun Nan Flavour Garden. (This is also true of Yunnan food more broadly in New York.) It comes as good news, then, a former fine-dining chef will open the Yunnan-inspired Little Tong today.
A native of Chengdu, Sichuan, Simone Tong spent several years working for Wylie Dufresne at wd~50 and Alder, where she helped with R&D; and at the famous sushi counter 15 East. But aside from small touches like xanthan gum to make sauces more homogeneous and seaweed powder, Tong won’t be breaking out the beakers. She was drawn to Yunnanese food, she says, by her lifelong affinity for rice noodles, which are the centerpiece of the menu here. They come in variations like grandma chicken with chicken confit, fermented chili, and black-sesame-garlic oil; a mushroom-packed version with fried shallots; and, in a nod to Tong’s heritage, a dan dan–mian riff with mustard seeds. Other dishes demonstrate the influence of Southeast Asia on the cuisine, like the Yunnanese classic called ghost chicken, a meat salad seasoned with lime and fresh herbs.
Little Tong, 177 First Ave., nr. E. 11th St.; 929-367-8664