Grain House hits the sweet spot between ethnic Chinese restaurant and neighborhood Chinese restaurant. Its delicious food has universal appeal. There is even an “American Chinese Food” menu category for the resolutely timid eater. It’s a something-for-everyone kinda place. Every nabe should have one of these.
Suzanne Parker is the T
imesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.”
The newest restaurants these days are Chinese; in fact we might call Little Neck the city’s sixth Chinatown, except that interspersed among them are Korean, Vietnamese, Salvadoran, and Italian places, so maybe it fails the “Chinatown” designation in terms of density. Among the Chinese restaurants are a Hong Kong noodle shop, a dim sum parlor, a massive Cantonese banquet hall, and Chinese-American carryouts, but the most recent and ambitious so far is Grain House. It appeared a couple of months ago in a space that used to be an Italian establishment called Conti’s.
It may be situated at the eastern edge of Queens, but a meal at Grain House is worth the trek to Little Neck. The room is amiably attended to and minimally adorned, with blue-and-white ceramic pieces lending a distinct Chinese tone to the otherwise staid but comfortable room. Grain House brings joy to enthusiasts of Chinese cookery with a menu representing the many regions of the country’s culinary map. “Homestyle” specialties include the salted, tea-smoked duck-which is, in a word, perfection-and Sichuan dishes factor prominently, as in a platter of impossibly crispy, fried tofu smacked with ground cumin and dried chilies. Succulent, soothing, and braised in a clay pot, the cabbage casserole proves this kitchen knows how to wow with subtlety, too.– MICHELIN guide inspectors
The stretch of Hempstead Turnpike that runs through Hofstra University is not a fruitful one for diners looking to break the bonds of fast food. Heading west from Nassau Coliseum, you’ll encounter Subway, Friendly’s, Wendy’s, Sonic, McDonald’s and Jersey Mike’s Subs before you even cross over into Hempstead.
But now pot stickers and cumin lamb have taken their place among the burgers and shakes. In April, the Chinese restaurant Grain House took over what, for two years, had been the country’s largest BurgerFi.
This is a second location of Grain House for Beichen “Bob” Hu and partner Zhiming “David” Tan, whose original Grain House opened in Little Neck, Queens, last year. With its refined, mostly Northern Chinese menu, the Queens location made quite a splash, even scoring a listing (though not a star) in the 2017 Michelin Guide to New York City.