As some of my friends know, I like to go to New York during the Labor Day weekend to see the US Open, if possible. It’s an annual affair I started when I lived in Washington, DC and have hopefully resumed again now that I make a little bit more money and flights to New York are more abundant from the Bay Area than Albuquerque. The trips not only give me the chance to see top notch tennis matches, but also the opportunity to visit friends, see family, and, of course, eat good food. It doesn’t hurt that the US Open grounds are literally next to Flushing, the biggest are arguably the best Chinese community in all the five boroughs.
This trip two of my cousins wanted to do some exploring in Flushing, which ended up working perfectly. Below are a few places we went on our day as foodies in Flushing.
40-09 Prince St.
Queens, NY 11354
Our first stop of the day was Fu Run, a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Dongbei, or northeastern China, formerly known as Manchuria. I never had Dongbei cuisine before and this place is consistently recommended from virtually every dining guide of Manchurian cuisine in Flushing. Dongbei cuisine, being part of the interior north and subject to drastically different climate than Hong Kong or Shanghai, tends to have dishes that are more lamb or beef based and use starches that are thicker. Given the different profile of food, I was excited to dig in when we finally got our dishes.
- Country Style Green Bean Jelly Sheet – The server mixed the ingredients well, allowing the green bean jelly sheets to soak up the flavors of the sauce, cucumbers, cilantro, and other ingredients without losing their chew. It was a light, but good appetizer to start off the meal.
- Sauteed Chinese Watercress With Garlic – While I generally prefer Chinese watercress to be chopped in longer sections (coming from my Cantonese roots), these were seasoned well. It was just enough garlic for a good amount of flavor, but not enough to be too overpowering.
- Muslim Lamb Chops – If you have read any reviews of this place, their major claim to fame are these excellent lamb chops. The meat was succulent and nicely infused with the cumin and other spices. The spices themselves gave a very nice kick of spice without being too overpowering like a Sichuan peppercorn. All three of us really loved this dish.
Knowing that we had more of the day to chomp on other tasty morsels, we limited ourselves to three dishes. However, I would have loved to try the sweet potatoes, taro, and apple dessert to taste a truly Dongbei style of hard caramelized sweet treats. Of course, this just means I need to come out to New York and eat here again.
Corner 28 – 四菜一湯北京鴨
137-28 40th Rd
Queens, NY 11354
After lunch, my cousins and I spent a lovely afternoon at the Queens Museum. If you haven’t been, it is fantastic. While their famed panorama of the city was definitely marvelous, if you are ever at the museum this year I also encourage a tour of the World’s Fair design posters now on display.
Winding down the afternoon we walked back to Flushing, hungry for some snacks. The first pit stop we made was the Corner 28 for their famed Peking Duck bun stall. Corner 28, like a few other places in Flushing, is a space of a few food stall vendors cramed into the retail square footage of a small restaurant. While the place was not big, it did take us a while to spot the Peking duck buns. Tucked furthest in the back is the 四菜一湯北京鴨 stall (literally translated 4 dishes, 1 soup, Peking duck). We paid $5 for 6 buns and grabbed a bite of them on the curb. The Peking duck buns were made Cantonese style (with mantou buns) and pretty delicious. The duck could have been a little crispier, but for less than $1 a piece, I was not quibbling such details of quality.
We weren’t quite ready for dinner still so we wandered down Main Street and grabbed some curry fish balls. Like many stands and stalls in Hong Kong, there was little to no signage of the place. However, the balls were pretty good and had just a mild coating of curry, reminiscent of what my mom used to make.
New World Mall Food Court
136-20 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11354
Finishing the curry fish balls, we decided to wander some more. After taking a look at some tantalizing fresh fruits and vegetables, we did some grocery shopping. That turned out to be a fantastic activity because we learned what food traditions were more particular of our immediate family versus our extended family. It was during that time I learned my dad’s fondness for canned sardines or fried mud carp came from a family tradition of eating them while riding out hurricanes in their apartment.
Upon checking out of the supermarket we were ready for dinner. As we were right at the New World Mall, we decided to go to the New World Mall food court. Now, the New World Mall food court is no ordinary American mall food court where you find a selection of 8 or so food stalls hawking the same generic chains you would find at any other mall. Instead, there are over 25 different stalls, most of them small mom and pops, serving food from nearly every major culinary region of China. It’s busy and mesmerizing, like any food court you would see in Hong Kong.
I walked around the food court a couple times to figure out what I wanted to eat. In the end I chose 小圓環, a Taiwanese stall that seemed to have good food at bargain prices. I ordered their Box Entree with braised pork for $5.85+tax. I also wanted to order some 割包 (braised pork belly buns) but they were unfortunately sold out. Regardless, the braised pork rice was pretty good, up there with some of the best versions I’ve had at least in Irvine. I also got some boba milk tea from Tea Twitter, which was pretty sweet and refreshing and a nice change from all the Hong Kong style milk tea I usually order back in the Bay Area
All in all, I love exploring big food neighborhoods like Flushing that give you a little bit of culture and tasty food everywhere you stumble. While I have been to Flushing before, the experience was enhanced with my cousins also walking side by side, learning the similarity and differences of how we grew up. Of course, I still have more food adventures waiting for me next year when I return to Flushing (and Flushing Meadows) for the US Open. You could probably eat at a new place everyday in Flushing and still would only make a small dent in the cornucopia of restaurants in the community.