Grain House owner Beichen Hu recently sold most of his stake in the Little Neck restaurant located at 249-11 Northern Blvd., between Marathon Parkway and 249th Street, which is now called Shanghai Dumpling. Hu tells Eater he still owns 30 percent of the restaurant, and that the sale is part of a larger expansion he’s planning in Manhattan.
Hu is plotting a new fast-casual Chinese restaurant focused on handmade noodles and dumplings, plus entrees that are steamed and stewed. The concept is still in its infancy and hasn’t been named yet, although Hu is leaning toward “Grain House Express” or “Burning Noodle.”
The restaurateur — who still runs two Grain House locations on the Upper West Side and Long Island — hopes to plant the new restaurant in Midtown or Greenwich Village near New York University, he says. It’s the same reason he chose to open a Grain House just south of Columbia University in 2017; he wanted to be near the students who were traveling to Queens to eat at the original. And it’s why he chose to open a location on the Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale, across from Hofstra University.
Hu opened the original Queens location in 2016, gaining three stars from Eater critic Robert Sietsema for standout Sichuan fare. Although that location is now home to a different concept, Grain House fans can still find popular dishes like the burning noodles and pork in garlic sauce at the restaurant’s two remaining outposts.
An employee at the new Shanghai Dumpling restaurant tells Eater the change happened earlier this week, particularly because diners in the Little Neck area prefer milder dishes over spicy ones. While some Sichuan items will remain on the menu, most of the focus will lie on less spicy options like dumplings and scallion pancakes.