Quick and easy lunch places along Main St, Flushing?
I have an hour lunch break and sick of the fast food places... i used to shop instead, but now i am ready to be more adventurous... any suggestions? i am not sure if i can sit down to eat either, so it would be for take out...
Any suggestions would be great! Thanks...
There is a Shanghai restaurant on the “hole-in-wall” street on 40th Road just west of Main Street that we have enjoyed eating lunch at for a number of months now.
It is called “Xintandi” (135-33 40th Road, Tel: 718-358-1919), and we usually order the same three items for lunch:
a. Beef soup noodles: This is a very simple dish where the soup broth is fairly savory with a good beef flavor, has nice chewy noodles, and thin slices of de-seeded hot green peppers. The hot green peppers add just a little spicy hot taste but without going overboard in numbing your tongue as some Sichuan dishes certainly will do. ($5.25).
b. Fried Turnip cake: Unlike many other places that make this item, this turnip cake is fairly greaseless with a thin batter coating and very little flour filler with mostly tender and tasty shredded turnips. Most of the time, this turnip cake is made to order, but every once in a while, the turnip cakes will not be fresh cooked but have been pre-cooked already and briefly fried again. ($1.00).
c. Xiao Long Bao (XLB), 8 baos per order (also known as soupy dumplings): These are what we call 2/3 good XLB’s, where the soup broth, and there is a lot of it, is very tasty with hardly any fat in the broth and hence will not leave a fatty taste in your mouth after eating. The pork meat is very tender with good pork flavor. The 1/3 aspect that is not quite the best is the skin, which is due to the XLB’s not being made to order. The XLB’s are pre-made and refrigerated, which means that if the XLB’s are sitting around too long, the skin will begin to dry out. The skins are fairly thin and because the XLB’s have been pre-made earlier, the tops of the XLB’s tend to dry out and are slightly hard even after steaming. Another shortcoming is that the XLB skin will begin to harden very quickly, sometimes even before you finish eating your lunch, hence one has to eat the XLB’s quickly once they come out from the kitchen in the steamer basket. Not sure if this is due to the XLB’s drying out or the flour mixture for the skin is not quite right. But even with these shortcomings of the skin, these 2/3 good XLB’s are fairly decent, and sometimes if you catch the XLB’s recently fresh made, these XLB’s are reasonably good. Our luck is such that when we order the XLB’s, we usually get the last remaining XLB’s in the refrigerator and right after we order, a new tray of XLB’s are brought out from the kitchen to the front counter. Just in case you might not be familiar with XLB’s nor aware of how to eat them properly, here is a link with instructions: http://worldfoodieguide.wordpress.com... . To these instructions, we would add that you would pick the XLB’s up near the top of the XLB with your chopsticks and quickly dip them into the ginger soy sauce dip before placing the XLB into your Chinese spoon for eating. And there is no need to bite a hole in the XLB’s served at “Xintandi,” since they are made with a ready-made hole at the top of the XLB already. The best thing about the XLB’s at “Xintandi” is that there is a special price for the XLB’s on Monday through Thursday, including dinner time, where one can buy one XLB order at full price and get another XLB order for just $1.00 more. There are two types of XLB’s available: pork and pork flavored with crab. We would recommend staying with the pork XLB’s which to our taste is smoother and more tender than the crab flavored XLB’s (at $5.95, a dollar more than the plain pork filled dumpling), where the crab flavored meat inside the dumpling tasted a little rougher in texture. There is real crab meat in the crab XLB’s, as when we ordered them, there was a very small piece of crab shell in the meat filling.
There is however, a small issue that may present a problem for those who cannot read Chinese nor speak Mandarin. For some reason, the “Xintandi” restaurant menu does not translate all of the dishes, including the three dishes described above and a number of other dishes, into English on their bi-lingual menu. Mostly the dishes listed under the section “Dim Sum and Pastry” are left untranslated, which also happens to be the cheapest items on the menu. But one of the wait staff may speak some English, hence the communication problem may possibly be finessed.
As described above for the three dishes, two people can eat a filling and enjoyable lunch at “Xintandi” for just $11.20 plus tip (cash only). Also as stated earlier, on Mondays through Thursdays, one can also get a second XLB order for $1 more.
The restaurant also has a special family menu where one can choose 3 dishes and a soup for just $19.95 or 2 dishes and a soup for $13.95. But the family menu that they hand out is only in Chinese, but at the entrance of the restaurant, there is a takeout menu available on a little tower platform that contains pink colored take-out menus that has English translations of the special family menu. There are also rice cakes dishes and stir-fried noodle dishes available for $6.50.
We would recommend that if your decide to try the “Xintandi” restaurant and order the XLB dish, one should eat-in rather than take-out, since XLB’s do not travel very well and it is best to eat them immediately when they come out from the kitchen. If you have a full hour for lunch, this should be enough time for a sit-down lunch meal, including travel time, unless you are far away and the travel time is lengthy, but according to your posts, you will be walking to the Flushing Chinatown, hence you can not be too far away.
The restaurant has the same name as the famous shopping area and night spot in Shanghai, China. The shops and restaurants at the “Xintandi” area are quite expensive, as when we were in Shanghai in 2006, after dinner at a restaurant in the “Xintandi” area, we stopped at a small café and just two non-alcoholic drinks and one dessert cost over $18 USD or over Y144 (at approx. Y8 to $1).
We have also been there for dinner, and there are many good dishes on their dinner menu. The Braised Pork Leg with Brown sauce is quite good. There is also a vegetable dish, House Special Stir-Fried Vegetable that was good, with at least 6 or 7 different Chinese vegetables, but on the high side in terms of cost at $16.
This is interesting. I've noticed this restaurant but never tried it because a lot of the a la carte dinner entrees are expensive. $15 for red-cooked fish tail, which costs $9 at Moon House in Manhattan. Note that the name in English on the sigh outside is something like "new world cuisine" , not xintiandi (new heaven?) except in Chinese characters.
re: Brian S
re: Brian S
When you mentioned that the restaurant’s name was “New World Vision” rather than “Xintandi,” we were beginning to think that maybe we had Alzheimer’s, but we are both correct. Apparently, the “Xintandi” restaurant had become successful enough and flush with money due to their many high priced dishes, that they invested in a brand new sign and canopy and also decided to become Americanized by translating their original Chinese “Xintandi” name into “New World Vision.” In the short time between our last time eating there last week and your walking by, they renovated the old sign with their new “New World Vision” Americanized name!
In going to “New World Vision,” we mostly went there during lunch and when we went for dinner, we ordered off the inexpensive family menu. The lunch dishes and the family menu dishes are quite inexpensive and are very good value. The family menu does not have the more expensive dishes listed on the regular menu and for those dishes that are identical to the dishes on the regular menu, the portions are smaller in size.
The last time we went for dinner, we decided to order off the regular menu. We ordered the Braised Pork Leg in Brown Sauce, very reasonable at $13 and quite good, the “Pan Fried Grey Sole with Seaweed” dish, which was just batter fried flounder fillets rolled in seaweed (we doubt that they used Grey Sole) which were tender and fresh, but the batter was a little too heavy, and the price was also on the high side at $17, but they gave a fairly large quantity, and on the recommendation of the waiter, we ordered the special vegetable dish where all the vegetables were very fresh and lightly cooked with minimal saucing with a large quantity and there was a light brown color puffed up ball double the size of a golf ball that might have been gluten that was amazingly tender and melted in your mouth. While the price of $16 for the vegetable dish was high enough to get your attention while paying, it is not really that high when one considers that Ong Toi (Hollow Spinach) will typically cost $12 to $14 at most Cantonese Restaurants. We also ordered “Shrimp with Chicken,” and an order of “Xiao Long Bao.” There were enough doggie bags that we were able to have leftovers for dinner the next night. But overall we had a reasonable dinner experience there, with the bill coming to $85, including tax and tip, for three cold appetizers and five dishes for 4 people. The cold appetizers were “Tofu with Green Vegetable (all chopped into fine pieces),” “Beef Shin,” and “Gluten with Mushrooms.” Of the three, the best cold dish was the “Gluten with Mushrooms.” The “Tofu with Green Vegetable” was allright, but the beef dish was dry and not very fresh.
We have not tried the “Red Cooked Fish Tail” that you had mentioned had a high price tag. Like most Chinese restaurants that have an extensive menu, there will be dishes that are good and dishes that are not good, and dishes that have value and dishes that do not have value.
Chinese restaurant owners must have read the famous psychology chicken experiment where the researchers found out that if one trains a chicken to peck at a bar that will drop pellets of corn into the bin as a reward, the chickens will continue to peck even if the corn does not drop every single time, but as long as the corn drops on a random basis sufficient enough times, the chickens will continue to peck at the bar. But once the researchers stopped the dropping of the corn, the chickens after a while, also stopped pecking at the bar. Apparently, Chinese customers are good facsimiles of the behavior of chickens.
P.S. Some corrections to our original posting:
a. The Beef Soup Noodle dish described should be “Hot Pepper Beef Soup Noodle” and a close rendering of the dish in Chinese is “La Jaio Nu Rou Mein”
b. The Turnip Cake in Chinese is approximately “Yu Dun Zi”
c. XLB’s: We had mentioned that the XLB’s came with ready made holes on the top of the XLB’s, but last week when we tried them, the XLB’s did not have holes. There must be several different people making the XLB’s.
Thanks for this report! lwong, for those prices, you should definitely go to Ocean Jewels! www.chowhound.com/topics/435984
One question about the family dinners, which I have seen at several other restaurants as well, some on that block, and also Gu Shine. You get, say, three dishes for $16. But I am a family of one and I want one dish. Is this possible?
re: Brian S
At the “New World Vision,” the family menu is 3 dishes and a house soup for $19.95, or 2 dishes and the house soup for $13.95. Unfortunately, there is no listed special for 1 dish and you would have to have a hearty appetite to order the two dish special, although the dishes are on the small side. However, the Chinese restaurants are very flexible and if they happen to take a shine to a non-Asian who can speak and read a little Chinese, they might very well allow you to order just one dish at a prorated price of say $8.00.
You are definitely at a disadvantage when you are only one person ordering at a Chinese restaurant. And we can understand your favoring the ordering of casseroles, which are fairly self contained dishes with vegetables and meats together in one dish. The Chinese culture is very family oriented and the dishes at Chinese restaurants are geared to serve large family dining with three generations where dishes are usually ordered not as individual self contained dishes, but to represent a variety of meat and vegetable dishes, although the three generation families are changing now with the Americanization of the Chinese in America. You can see this with the many restaurants in the Flushing Chinatown which are beginning to have smaller tables that seat 4 people, but the larger restaurants typically still have the standard larger round tables with few small tables available.
Ocean Jewels is one of the more expensive restaurants in the Flushing Chinatown and dinner for four people ordering 5 dishes (with two nice seafood dishes), plus several appetizers would most likely cost over $120. When we ate at the nearby Canton Gourmet around the corner on Prince Street recently, just the Dungeness Crab dish (over 3 lbs) alone cost $40. Typically when we dine at the Imperial Palace restaurant, the cost for three people is over $90 plus dollars. On this basis, the “New World Vision” restaurant is not overly expensive, although one is not ordering many seafood dishes, which are the dishes that drive up the cost.
wow... thanks for the great tips!! i hate to drive in the area since walking always seems to be quicker... and i loved that you considered prices too... lunch for $5 is more like it for me... and if there is leftovers for dinner later even better! it seems like it is going to be frigid this week so walking to warm and spicy foods might be the best thing!
Thanks for all the tips and suggestions! and if there are anymore "must-try" places in the area please let me know... the project will be ending in a few months so i want to try all that i can before i leave... =)
Are you walking, or do you have a car? If you can drive then the dosa places near Holly/Bowne can be added to the mix. You can really eat well for around $5- I assume that most people are budget conscious with their lunch $ (I certainly am). The unfortunate part is that with all of these great places in the area you get the feeling that you haven't really had a chance to see what they really can offer. The upside, of course, is that your $5-7 is much better spent there than at some fast food place.- Anyway...masala dosa is $3.50 + lassi $1.25, and it will leave you quite happy and satisfied.
If you are walking and can't make it to that area you should look into the Banana Leaf, a Malaysian place on 41st Ave just off of Main St. (across from the municipal lot). They definitely have take-out lunch specials in the $5 range. Honestly, I haven't thied any of those because when I go there it is usually for the noodle/soup dishes, which are only $1 more and quite filling on their own. I really like the Asam Laska (it could be just a touch spicier and more sour to my taste, but it does have a really good balance of flavors), so I usually just go with that.
Taste of Thai, which also has Burmese and Chinese food, on College Point Blvd just down 41st Ave., does a sit-down lunch special for $5. It includes soup and a plate of rice with 2 or 3 'rotating' dishes (usually a chicken and a fish). There is no choice involved, but to me that's not such a bad thing, and I find it to be a good value.
If you can go to the $7 range and don't mind walking a bit Chatkhara, a Pakistani place down near the Botanical Gardens, is a good choice. They will give you a container of rice with one of the 'curries' prepared that day, along with a naan. The chicken curry (on the bone, stew-like consistency) just rocks, and they even make a mean chicken makhani (their chicken tikka is really well marinated). You can also piece together a la carte items to make up a lunch. A lot of the stuff is cheap (channa, dal, samosas, chapli kebabs, etc.) in the $2-3 range, even the take-out naan is only $0.60, and quite good.
Imperial Palace, at 136-13 37 Av, just 50 feet from Main Street, is a wonderful Cantonese restaurant but everything good seems to cost $14 or more. But they have a lunch deal with lots of $6 entrees! Sable fish, about $17 at dinner, is $6.50 at lunch. I have no idea how portion size and quality compares, I've never eaten lunch there, but it might be worth a try.