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$20 Dinner

Superb Sichuan Noodles, Served on an Industrial Corner in Queens 

The stylish new Fer in Dutch Kills features a tight menu loaded with bangers.

12:00 PM EST on December 13, 2023

A bowl of Munchies tripes with rice noodles, $14, from Fer.
(Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Approach the new Sichuan-Guizhou restaurant Fer after dark (so, these days, anytime after 5:00 p.m.) and you'll find yourself in an oasis of warmth and fellowship. Outside, the block is all construction sites, an MTA ventilation complex, and a looming, empty high school; inside, the small but mighty Fer is buzzing with noodle heads.  

Fer is not, despite what a cheeky Instagram post from the restaurant implied, so named because of its proximity to the Queens Plaza F, E, and R station. As Nigel Huang, one of the partners here, told Hell Gate, it's actually a punny transliteration of "fen," or rice noodles. (I didn't really get the joke to be honest, but it doesn't matter because what came through loud and clear after my feast at Fer is that the food here is fantastic.)

Outside of Fer, in Dutch Kills. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

Huang, who's from the Sichuan province, said that Fer's dishes are almost all based on family recipes. "A lot of Chinese restaurant owners in New York think they have to make changes to their food for Americans," he said. "But we don't want to do that. We're trying to serve real Chinese food. We're trying to keep the legacy of our shifu [teachers] alive." 

Noodles form the core of the menu, and each of the half-dozen or so main dishes at Fer can be made with either rice or egg noodles, and with or without broth. The "Munchie Tripes" bowl, which I had with the former and served "dry," was glorious, full of funk and fire, the offal tender, the noodles slick, and the bok choy bringing some crunch. 

Juicy lamb with egg noodles, $14. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

The "Juicy Lamb" bowl was equally good, with thin-sliced meat and egg noodles swimming in a rich broth made extra-luxurious by the inclusion of mutton fat. Other noodle pairings include the porky "Heavenly Intestine," the braised beef, the spicy chicken, and two tofu options. Each is entree-sized, and costs $14 a pop.  

Bitter melon salad, $9. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)
Chicken broth wontons: $12. (Scott Lynch / Hell Gate)

You'll probably want to split an additional, ancillary dish or three, depending on the size of your party (just for fun and also because everything is so good). The chilled bitter gourd salad, for example, makes for a welcome counterpoint to all the red meat and chili oil (be warned though: It is, indeed, quite bitter). So do the soothing chicken broth wontons. Cucumber salad, chewy chicken gizzard, and "zesty pork tongue" are among your other shareable side dish options. 

Fer is a spin-off of Burp Bowl Cafe in Kips Bay. But though the menu is similar, the design is decidedly different here in Dutch Kills. Huang is an architect as well as a restaurateur, and he said that he did all of the interior design and construction at Fer, including taking a hammer to the main wall and smashing out big chunks down to the brick.  

Huang's partners in the venture, Margaret Fang and Mimi Yang, also have a creative life beyond Fer—the former is a designer, the latter a landscape architect—and the trio are hoping to create a neighborhood gathering place here. There's even a communal table in the back. "We have a very nice design here," said Huang. "We're trying to create a space for people to walk in, enjoy a meal, and share their time with us and each other." 

Fer is located 41-10 29th Street, at the corner of 41st Avenue, and is currently open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily. (347-649-1046) 

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