I know my friends are awesome because they'll say things like, "I've never been to Flushing before; can we go there and eat until we explode?" If you have no interest in going to Flushing, you can go sit in that corner over there marked "YOU ARE NOT MY FRIEND." Yes, the corner with the sad faces all around it.
I may not cover that much ground on my visits to Flushing—with friends in tow I tend to revisit more favorites than try new places—but I hope you find it useful that that I take photos of everything and dump them all in these really long posts, even if I've posted half the stuff before.
Trip 1: Dim Sum, Assi Plaza, Shaved Ice, Etc.
Trip one with Diana, Alice, Greg, Chichi, Gloria, Lee Anne, and my out-of-town visitors Karen and Rebecca, took place on October 17. First top: Ocean Jewels for dim sum. Details about the meal are sort of hazy since our lazy Susan went from empty to plate-covered in 5 minutes (thanks to the collaboration of pushy cart ladies and my Cantonese-speaking friends), but luckily, I took a photo of every dish and Chichi wrote about it on Serious Eats. Her overall impression: meh. My opinion is worthless; I haven't had enough dim sum to know what's good. I'd just listen to Chichi, and according to her, this shizz blows (not her exact words): too many room temperature dishes, not enough stand out deliciousness. If you've eaten the best dim sum in Southern California (and beyond) as Chichi has, all dim sum in New York City might be underwhelming.
After dim sum, we roamed around Korean supermarket Assi Plaza where we met up with Tina and looked at the wide array of Asian foodstuffs. Mostly in the snack aisle.
From the curiously named.
To the anthropomorphic.
To the unadorned.
To the boiled canned mackerel.
There was also this questionable advertised snack found at a shop at the Flushing Mall. Whenever people ask me what kind of gum Orientals chew, I just point them to dried cuttlefish. It's like chewing gum, as long as the gum tastes fishy and is made of seafood.
We popped into Ten Ren to hydrate with bubble tea and snack on a bowl of shaved ice and red beans. It's the best shaved ice I've had in Flushing...out of the two places I've tried (the other in the Flushing Mall).
And I rode this pink limbless blob at the corner of Prince Street and Roosevelt Avenue, sort of unintentionally. While I initially straddled the malformed creature for a stationary photo op (because it's not the first time I've been on a pink limbless blob kiddie ride), Gloria seized the opportunity to spend a quarter in exchange for watching me flail for a minute of non-stop undulating, shrieking fun. I'd do it again in the company of friends; riding it alone would be weird. Because riding it with an audience of eight friends isn't weird. At. All.
I made sure to expose Karen to the cheap-ass $1 roast duck bun at the corner of 40th Road and Main Street.
Along with the also cheap-ass ($3.50 perhaps?) heaping plate of liang pi from Xi'an Famous Foods in the underbelly of the Golden Shopping Mall.
There was also this ham, egg, cheese, and pork floss sandwich creation from Sun Mary Bakery that nobody ate, but I thought was worth taking a photo of.
And a short trip to Pinkberry that I didn't partake in because you know how I feel about fro-yo.
Trip Two: Taiwanese Breakfast, Spicy and Tasty, Etc.
With trip two on October 31, we tried to cater to those who didn't want to sacrifice sleep by allowing them to join our fooding excursion later than our starting time of 10 a.m. While the food and company were good, the result was suboptimal; it's just way easier for everyone to meet at the same time and be on the same stomach-stuffing schedule. There are few people who are more sleep deprived than I am; if I can survive on unhealthily meager amounts of sleep, SO CAN YOU.
The core group of Tam, Al, Diana, Alice, Michael, Chichi, and I started at No. 1 East Restaurant for Taiwanese breakfast. Despite being Taiwanese, I know very little about what Taiwanese people eat for breakfast. If Tam and Al were here, they could tell you what those ball things above are. ...But they're not, so I'm going to call them "flaky dough ball things filled with stuff." Unfortunately, they were sort of dry and bland.
The fried cruller, or you tiao, was much more satisfying. You get crispy, chewy, poofy, and soft in every bite. Like all fried foods, it's best eaten fresh; after a while it becomes an unappealing grease stick.
The savory tofu soups were a highlight of the meal. Not that I remember much about either besides that they were savory (in that "blast of umami" way)...and had tofu in them. ...Moving on.
The scallion pancakes (one with egg, one without) and beef in sesame pancakes were alright. Not the best, but not bad. The beef pancakes from Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao are better.
The steamed pork dumplings were undeniably full of fail. Anyone want dry, shriveled dumplings? HERE YOU GO.
They must put all their dumping-making energy into the spinach dumplings, easily my favorite vegetable dumpling anywhere, and one of my favorite dumplings in general. Little thin-skinned pouches stuffed to the brim with chopped spinach and cellophane noodles—such chlorophyll-dense beauties they are.
Gloria joined us after breakfast when we went to Oriental Express Food Lucky L & LWC, represented by the clever combination of a steam locomotive plowing into a bowl of noodles (because it's fast and oriental GET IT?). This is one of those places that you could pass a gazillion times and never notice. Or maybe that was just me.
Shiny, red, and glaring with fluorescent lights—ah, the aesthetics of Chinatown. I couldn't tell you much about the food they serve here since I left the food ordering in the capable hands of Tam and Al, but considering how full it was, there must be good stuff. (I forgot to try the "rolling donkey"—doh).
Chive box, something like a large dumpling stuffed with chopped chives and glass noodles and pan fried to a light crisp, is one of my favorite Chinese foodstuffs that I sometimes ate as a kid. I rarely get to eat them these days though; they're not very common in New York City, as far as I can tell. I liked that the wrapping in this pancake-y version was super thin, making for a greater filling-to-wrapper ratio.
The egg pancake-wrapped fried crullers were less successful. Remember what I said about fried crullers having a short window of awesomeness? I'm not sure these crullers ever had that window. Tepid, floppy logs of dough wrapped in equally tepid and floppy rounds of dough do not make for a winning combination. Maybe it would've worked better if it had been fresher.
More win was found at Spicy and Tasty. It wasn't in our original itinerary, but since the neighboring restaurant we wanted to go to was too crowded, we figured we should cross this popular Sichuan restaurant off our list. By this point our party had shifted to include Kathy, Kathryn, and Dan, while Gloria had left.
I don't remember the official Chinese name for any of these dishes because I fail at taking notes—food porn will have to do. All you have to know is that I liked everything.
Spicy, slightly crispy chicken nubs with celery, green onions, and green peppers. GOOD STUFF.
Spicy cold noodles. ...Also good stuff.
Soft tofu blocks with a bit of chewy skin, in spicy...goo. ...Yes, also good.
Crisp, sauteed string beans, I LOVE YOU.
Lamb bits with what looks like loads of garlic and chiles. Probably good, but I didn't eat much of it. Sometimes I can't take the feral lamb funk.
Seafood soup was another winner.
We finished off with black sesame paste-filled tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) in sweet egg drop soup with fermented rice grains. I've never had this dessert in and egg and fermented rice soup before; I'd prefer it without the fermentation, but the wisps of egg were a nice touch.
We ended our fooding journey at the Flushing Mall's food court, where I didn't eat anything because I was goddamn full. Some of the others bought food to go from the new Xi'an Famous Foods stall.
Kathryn bought this huge-ass pork-slab-filled steamed bun, also known as a Taiwanese steamed sandwich or burger, from a neighboring stall. Fatty pork on its own is tasty; with the addition of pickled greens, cilantro, and a dusting of ground peanuts, it's freakin' awesome. I wish that dishes like this one (and chive boxes and spinach dumplings) would become more popular outside of Flushing, but I guess I should feel lucky that I have access to such things at all.
Another Flushing Food Tour: Dumplings, Crab, Shaved Ice, Stinky Tofu, Etc.
Another Flushing Food Tour: Dumplings, Crab, Shaved Ice, Stinky Tofu, Etc.
I Think I Want to Eat Everything in Flushing, Mostly at Golden Shopping Mall
Beef Noodle Soup and Ginormous Shaved Ice in Flushing
13330 39th Avenue, Flushing NY 11354 (map)
13101 39th Avenue, Flushing NY 11354 (map)
Roast Duck Bun Stall (Corner 28)
4028 Main Street, Flushing NY 11354 (map)
Xi'an Famous Foods (basement of Golden Shopping Mall)
41-28 Main Street, Flushing NY 11355 (map)
Sun Mary Bakery
13357 41st Road, Flushing NY 11355 (map)
133-31 39 Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354 (map)
No. 1 East Restaurant
41-27 Main Street, Flushing NY 11369 (map)
Oriental Express Food Lucky L & LWC
41-40 Main Street, Flushing NY 11355 (map)
Spicy and Tasty
3907 Prince Street, Flushing NY 11354 (map)