Northern Tiger Brings a Hyperlocal Touch to Beijing Specialties

March 25, 2015 Updated: October 8, 2018

From Erika Chou and Doron Wong’s last restaurant Yunnan Kitchen to their latest, Northern Tiger, it’s about a 10-minute drive across Lower Manhattan. In culinary terms, it’s more like the 1,500 miles between Yunnan in southern China and Beijing in the north.

And for another geographical jump, it may be half-way round the world from Beijing to New York, but Chou and Wong are adamant about using market-driven ingredients.

“When I opened my first restaurant, Yunnan Kitchen, my goal was to show New Yorkers that Chinese food doesn’t have to be $5 and come served in a takeout container,” said Chou, whose family has roots in northern China.

“With Northern Tiger, we’re taking that same philosophy of drawing inspiration from China but sourcing locally and applying it to a whole new region. This time we’re recreating traditional Beijing dishes with hyperlocal, quality ingredients,” she said.

Chou and Wong traveled to China a couple of months ago and underwent some serious cooking training with a master of mian shi (food made from flour).

“We started each day at 8 a.m. making dumpling skins, shao bing [a type of bread], and a variety of pancakes with Master Hu, one of few certified mian shi masters. She could roll out three perfectly round and even dumpling skins at a time while we slowly worked on one.”

Dumplings in northern China have the distinction of having a thicker skin, Wong explained. “The more folds in a dumpling equates to the chef being more skilled. We’d call this folding technique the ‘real Beijing way.'”

Don’t miss out on the dumplings ($8, heritage pork and chive, Long Island duck, or a seasonal vegetarian version). And get the refreshing Chrysanthemum Tiger Salad ($6). The salad, dressed with a kombucha vinaigrette, is a mix of scallion, cilantro, chile, and chrysanthemum greens. The last are surprisingly herbaceous and fragrant.

Other items on the menu: Zha Jiang Mian, a Beijing noodle dish classic (here served with heritage pork, $12), sesame cold noodles ($9), lamb noodle soup ($12).

True to Chinese cuisine, ingredients offering health benefits are integrated into the dishes: garlic—lots of garlic and, of course, for soups and noodle dishes, bone broth. “While it might be having its moment, we’re using it because that’s what you’d find in Chinese kitchens,” Wong said.

And like other market-driven menus, this one will soon incorporate spring ingredients even though the restaurant has been open for only about a week.

Northern Tiger
At Hudson Eats
250 Vesey St.
Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday 11 a.m.–7 p.m.