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$20 Dinner

$20 Dinner: Gorgeous Fiery Stews at Flushing’s Fish With You

Flushing is your only destination outside of China for these hearty bowls.

A bowl of Pickled mustard snakehead fish with green peppercorn, black fungus, and bean curd.

Pickled mustard snakehead fish with green peppercorn, black fungus, and bean curd, $17.95 (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

If you want food with some serious presence, Fish With You is your spot. This table-service Sichuan restaurant is a mega chain in China, with more than 1,000 locations. But the only one anywhere else in the world is here in Flushing, Queens. Fish With You opened over the summer near the 7 train and specializes in choose-your-own-adventure fish stews.    

Or maybe they're soups? Whatever, they're super hearty and alive with things like tongue-tingling green peppercorns, tangy pickled mustard greens, fiery chilis, crunchy add-ins like black fungus and beef curd, and one of two types of swimmers, basa and snakehead, both of which can hang in there with everything else going on. 

Inside Fish With You (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Here's how it works. First you pick your fish. The basa is plump and firm, the snakehead a little more chewy, with skin still on so there's a bit more flavor. Both are good. The latter costs three dollars more. You can also get boiled beef, though this isn't freakin' Cow With You you're eating at.

Next up in your decision tree is the "tastes," which basically means the broth and its attendant flavor-givers. The Pickled Mustard Fish With Green Peppercorns, which we had with snakehead, was an absolute rager, as was the Pickled Mustard Fish In Golden Soup, which had one less chili pepper in its spiciness warning but still gets your forehead sweating nonetheless.

Pickled mustard basa fish in golden soup with rice noodle and leaf lettuce, $14.95 (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Should we have ordered one of the tomato-based broths instead of two pickled mustard ones? Maybe. But no regrets. Those tangy chunks brought so much punch to the party I think we would have had less fun without them.

Each stew is offered in two sizes, for one person (big!) or two (enormous!), and comes with your choice of two or four sides, respectively, though they aren't really "sides" because they're added to your dish before it hits the table. Portions of these are ample, and all four we tried—the funky fungus, the nubby bean curd, the slippery rice noodle rectangles, and the bright leaf lettuce—were worthy inclusions. 

Rice station (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

You get unlimited white rice with every order too, spooned out from the tiered shelves of steamers sitting over there like bleacher creatures, watching the action, waiting for the call to come in. It's a lot of food! Plus there are snacks at Fish With You, like the porky panko skewers we wolfed down with glee. Spicy chicken chunks, Taiwan sausage, pumpkin pie (?), and golden steam buns are also available in this category.    

Spicy pork skewers, $6.95 (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Fish With You is sleekly designed, with seating for nearly 50 people and an ordering counter in the back if you're getting takeout. Each table has its own little drawer of utensils and napkin reups, which is very cute. The soundtrack is all contemporary Chinese pop songs. The stock photos are goofy as hell. The vibe, it is good.  

Hell Gate total for two, including tax, but not including tip and some delicious ice cold passion fruit tea: $40.78                  

Fish With You is located at 135-25A 40th Road, between Main and Prince Streets, and is currently open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily (718-799-0818)  

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