Neighborhood Eats: 'Atlas Kitchen' on the Upper West Side

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Lauren Glassberg reports on "Atlas Kitchen" on the Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is home to plenty of Chinese restaurants, but there is one that is setting itself apart for both its look and cuisine.

'Atlas Kitchen,' located on 258 West 109th St. opened in late October, and the owners, two recent graduates of Columbia University are offering a different take on Chinese food.

Max Chen and Haocheng Sun call themselves food explorers, and after eating everywhere in NYC, they decided to open their own spot just down the street from their Alma Mater. As it turns out, many of their customers are students.

The setting is atypical - it is modern with a mural by a famous Chinese artist. The food is presented in creative ways, like the sliced pork and garlic sauce.

Chef Li is known for his Hunan cooking, but he brings something else to his technique - he has a background studying in German, too - so he combines German and Chinese dishes.

One dish is beef flank in dry wok - the main ingredient is essential beef stew. The cubed beef is stir fried with scallions, peppers, garlic and ginger. Meanwhile, the chef also makes baby beef wontons, which are then deep fried and served with the beef. It has depth and kick.

There are also clams with winter melon, bean curd noodles, and steamed whole fish. Dishes from eight Chinese provinces are served here.

RECIPE: Beef Flank

Ingredients for stew:
2 lbs Beef Flank
Salt
Pepper
2 tsp star anise
2 bay leaves
3 dried Sichuan peppers
3 cinnamon sticks
3 tsp Hoisin sauce
3 tsp soy sauce
4 cups beef stock
Directions:
Cube beef.
Salt and pepper the beef and then brown oven medium heat. add all the spices, hoisin, soy and stock. Bring to boil, then cover and lower heat. This should cook 3-4 hours. Strain all ingredients, set aside beef. Let it cool.

Ingredients for Won-tons:
8 won-ton skins
pound ground beef
egg wash
oil-for deep fryer
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced

Mix meat with garlic, ginger and salt
Place a small amount on a won-ton skin, circle the edges with egg wash.
Crimp edges together.
Deep fry won-tons quickly so that they're crispy. And drain.

For wok portion:

Already stewed beef flank
2 tsp Cayenne pepper
1 TBLS Tabasco pepper
cup red peppers chopped
cup scallions chopped
cup celery
3 garlic cloves chopped
2 tsp ginger, fine diced
Chicken stock cup
Cooking oil
1 tsp Corn starch mixed with cup water

Heat oil in wok, add the garlic, ginger, scallions, red peppers and celery
After about a minute, add the beef
Add chicken stock, cayenne pepper and tobacco.
As that cooks and bubbles, add the corn starch mixture to thicken.
Toss in fried won-tons at the end and serve.

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