When I heard about Happy Beef Noodle House from the New York Times' feature on Flushing eats, I thought, "AHHH AHAHAHA GMMFFUHL," which roughly translates to, "I have to go there." Beef noodle soup is easily my favorite Chinese noodle dish, something I devoured many times in Taiwan, and here was my chance to eat a happy version of it. Hell, I'd probably go anywhere with the word "Happy" in the name: Happy Burger House; Happy Pizza House; Happy Pig Parts House; Happy Colonoscopy House. See, it always works.
Jeremiah and Olia joined me on my beef noodle soup quest. Here's what we attempted to devour:
Jeremiah ordered the noodle with shredded beef and hot pepper, thick wheat noodles smothered in a goopy brown sauce with beef and vegetables. The waitress reminded us that it was spicy when we ordered it, but it wasn't that spicy. Just a smidge. The noodles came with a separate bowl of clear, nearly flavorless soup (except for a hint of...fat?) containing a cut up fishball or two. The soup wasn't bad, but I wasn't sure how it went with the noodle dish. Palate cleanser?
Olia ordered a noodle dish with shredded pork. I can't remember which one. Moving on...
And then there was beef. BEEF STEW! WITH NOODLES! FOR ME!!! And Olia and Jeremiah. Thick wheat noodles aren't my favorite, but it's the soup and beef that matter most. And what's in this soup? Jesus, I don't know; can't you just trust me when I say IT IS DELICIOUS? WHY CAN'T YOU JUST DO WHAT I SAY? It feels light (no insanely rich Minca-like broth here), but is full of beefy salty goodness. I think it's the star anise that I love...and then saltiness. And pepper. And onions. And spiciness. And mild sweetness. Whenever I slurp down beef noodle soup, I can't think of what it tastes like besides beef noodle soup. Highly unhelpful when I try to describe it, but it combines a bunch of flavors to form something new (like mixing yellow and blue to make green, yes?, YES?) and I don't think telling you all the individual components is going to help much. Also, I'm too lazy.
This was no typical wee lil' chunk of tendon-laced beef. It was the best wee lil' chunk of tendon-laced beef ever. Not a chunk as much as weeny beef broth-soaked muscle fibers whose connective tissues had completely melted, meaning that the slightest chopstick-poke causes the fibers to release the most tender meaty goodness you will ever get in beef form. It's magical.
Another magical thing was the complementary bowl of chopped pickled vegetables. This was as excited as having a bucket of curtido. I could eat all the pickled vegetables I wanted, and when I wanted. Many ladle-fuls make their way into my beef noodle soup to give it that extra bit of tang and crunch.
We stopped at a street-side food-filled window off Main Street where Olia bought a 75 cent Peking duck bun. I also saw, for the first time, how my favorite steamed rice noodle rolls are made:
Cut noodle sheet, scoop up noodles, plop into Styrofoam container and give a good splash o' sweet soy sauce goo.
Further down Main Street Olia picked up a stick of spicy fish balls or fish ball matter in other forms.
We entered the underbelly of the famed Golden Shopping Mall to scope out the infamous food court full of goodies you won't find elsewhere.
"Damn, it's humid," was my first though. "This feels like Asia," was my second. Tiny chairs, tightly packed bodies, humidity, and lack of English...yup, it takes me back.
We stopped at stall 36, Xi'an Famous Snacks, to try their lamb sandwich and pork sandwich. The lamb sandwich was too cumin-packed for my taste, but my first bite of the pork sandwich oozed with sweet, tender, fat-laden pork bits—like pulled pork, but better for some reason. I especially liked the chewy bread pouch it was stuffed into. Unfortunately, I could only take one bite because I was too stuffed from the beef noodle soup, but that just means I'll have to eat there on another trip to Flushing. I MUST CONQUER THEIR MENU.
We met up with Diana and Ian before heading to the Flushing Mall. Although my stomach was full of normal food, I still had room for dessert. Bwahahaha.
Shaved ice to the rescue!
I ordered the special shaved ice, which mean the ladies with the ladles were in charge of plopping whatever artificially colored, gelatinous, beany, gloppy, sugary goo they wanted in my kiddie pool-sized bowl of shaved ice. All I could do was watching from the other side of the plastic partition in awe, or horror.
HOLY JEBUS what the...was my initial impression. "This bowl is huge. No one needs this much ice topped with goo." The goo included red bean, mung bean, multicolored gelatin cubelets, huge taro chunks that looked more like preserved fish, viscous peanut-filled glop, condensed milk, and whatever sugary syrup they soak the ice in. The ice bits even out the taste of diabetes. And...it's good! You've got your crunchy ice, mushy bean matter, chewy jello-like substances, starchy taro, all together in one magical spoonful that your stomach probably responds to with, "WTF, I don't wanna digest this shit."
Aside from a few neglected taro chunks, we managed to eat it all. Five of us, that is. I'd say a minimum of four people is required to fully devour this.
The food court was the main attraction, but we roamed around the shops as well. The best thing we came across was this freaky baby photo outside of the Noble Angel children's photography studio featuring fantasy-like art direction that might fall just outside the label of "tacky." Actually, some of the art direction would be awesome for adults too. But maybe not this one.
...Why is he wearing a tie? Why is he playing with apples? Is this the storyline of a a children's fairytale that I don't know about?
I bought a can of Kickapoo Joy Juice from a random food store in the mall. I mostly wanted the can, but I'm easily intrigued by anything called "joy juice," Alas, it tasted like Mountain Dew. Although I loved Mountain Dew as a kid during those rare times that my mom would let me drink it, now it doesn't seem to taste as good as it used to.
- Assi Plaza
Our last stop was Assi Plaza, a ginormous Korean supermarket where I chose to take photo of two things:
Fish Paste Product.
And Luncheon Loaf.
I ONLY BRING YOU THE BEST!
And that ends Summer Flushing Excursion #1. There's another one coming later. And hopefully more after that.
Happy Beef Noodle House
3810 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354
Golden Shopping Mall
41-28 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
13331 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
13101 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354