If you like to sample lots of different dishes when you eat out,then the moveable feast of dim sum at Friends Villa Restaurant isyour cup of tea.Whether it is the tapas-style dim sum that is served from 9 a.m. to3 p.m., one of the fantastic lunch specials ($5.75 for an entréeplus rice and soup), or a dinner entrée from the long list ofchicken, pork, noodle, seafood and vegetable dishes, every item atFriends Villa is prepared with the care of experienced chefs andthe flavor of centuries of Cantonese-style (mild spices and anabundance of seafood) cuisine.The food is authentic, as evidenced by the abundance of Chinesecustomers who know exactly what they want before they see it – porkor shrimp dumplings, marinated chicken feet, sweet egg custardtarts, cow intestines, stuffed peppers, starchy potato-like pattieswith tiny preserved shrimp inside and oyster dipping sauce, andmore ($1.95 to $7.95 depending on size and ingredients of the 50options).But if you don’t speak Chinese, don’t worry. Just point at thedishes that appeal to you, or ask one of the helpful staff forassistance. They speak English – as well as a variety of Chinesedialects – and will be happy to aid new diners in navigating theoptions.If you’d rather sit down to your own meal instead of servinghelpings of a communal potluck, then check out the man dinnerofferings ($2.95 to $21.95, not including seasonal items thatdepend on availability). From fresh fish (pick your own from thoseswimming in a tank) and lobster and Dungeness crab, to roast duckand roast pork, to every noodle dish imaginable – with sauce, insoup, sautéed with bean curd (tofu), and more — you won’t want foroptions.We opted for the vegetable and chicken chow mein – real chow mein,not the admittedly fake mush that many Brooklynites might rememberfrom years gone by. The meat and vegetables are piled generously ontop of a nest of crisp pan-fried slender egg noodles that iscovered in a savory brown sauce that, like the dim sum, combines avariety of flavors and textures to enhance the culinaryexperience.Some popular dishes include the clams with black bean sauce, themini pigeon, the veal lamb chop and the ginger and scallionlobster.For the more adventurous eater, there are also items like pig’sstomach with king mushroom, sautéed frogs with pepper, andstir-fried goose intestines in black bean sauce with preservedvegetables. If you can imagine it, there’s a good chance it’s onthe menu.Don’t forget dessert, though. Beyond just the colorful cakes andtarts, though, we recommend you try the sweet green dough filledwith black lotus paste and the egg custard tarts. They arerecognizable, bite sized and delicious.Throughout the meal, wash each bite down with any of the manyvarieties of tea, such as green, chrysanthemum and black, which areprepared with fresh tea leaves.The restaurant is a family-run enterprise between three generationsof an extended family that has lived in the borough for decades.After closing this summer for renovations, the four familiescelebrated the eatery’s grand opening on September 1 with theirstaff of eight chefs – six of whom are for dim sum – and severalwell-respected wait-staff who have worked in Bensonhurst foryears.The atmosphere is one of camaraderie and familiarity, where friendscan gather for a relaxed, stress-free bite. So come alone, withfriends or, better yet, with your grandparents, but large groupsare definitely welcome here, day or night, as food is meant to beshared by the whole table – not a problem as everything looks andsmells delicious if somewhat mysterious. But that’s part of thefun.
FRIENDS VILLA SEAFOOD RESTAURANT6202 18th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11204718-236-8118Open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.Dim Sum from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.Free delivery, $15 minimumCatering available.