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Feb 11, 2011 06:59 AM

A Ramble through Flushing

Boston hound here (formerly from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn) looking for some advice and suggestions for an upcoming day trip to Flushing....

I saw a great deal on Groupon for round-trip bus travel to NYC. Taking the first bus in the morning would land me near Penn Station a little after noon. On Saturdays the last bus home leaves at 8PM. Seeing this, I immediately thought "Flushing!!!!" and clicked the purchase button. So now, to plan my day trip.

- If I hop on the subway I should be in Flushing by 1 or so.

- I probably need to start heading back to Penn Station by 6:30 or so, just to be on the safe side (don't want to miss that last bus).

The last time I lived in the city was many years ago, before Flushing had grown into the Asian food mecca that it is now. Back then, it was just the stop after the one you got off at to go see the Mets play. So it will be my first time there. I love just rambling around and visiting markets. Interesting ingredients that I do not see in any of the Chinese markets in the Boston area could be candidates for purchase and a trip home with me. Given my schedule, I expect I can also have one nice meal (maybe lunch?) and one light meal (an early dinner, perhaps just some dumplings) and maybe I could get some baos or other room temperature treats for munching on the bus ride home.

So, what are your suggestions for great ethnic markets and only-in-Flushing restaurants that I might visit on a Saturday? Are there any bakeries or take-out-food places (the kind that will sell you, say, roast pig, soy sauce chicken, etc.) that I should visit too? I am a fairly fearless eater. Spice and unusual preparations are more than fine with me. My tastes run more to non-watered-down home/ethnic cooking (which is to say reasonably true to its origins) than formal dining or Americanized cooking (though that can be great comfort food at the right time). I don't expect that any meal like that would be terribly expensive.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I would suggest you check out the Flushing Mall Food court, the Golden Mall food court both downstairs and the first floor. Check out a place called White Bear too.

      1. re: scoopG

        That NYT Flushing eats map is way out of date!
        - Xiao La Jiao AKA Little Pepper has been closed for renovations for weeks
        - Yipin Chinese Cuisine lost their head two years ago right?
        - Shi Hong Mall at 41-42 Main St has closed and reopened with different vendors

      2. Just wanted to mention that there's the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) that leaves from Penn Station that will have you in Flushing in 20 minutes versus an hour. Depending on the bus schedules, that may potentially leave you a bit of extra time to cram in some more eating.

        4 Replies
          1. re: kathryn

            Cool! I never would have thought of that. Unfortunately the train is once an hour on Saturdays. So whether that helps going to Flushing will depend on when the bus actually does arrive. If the timing is right the LIRR definitely is a big win.

          2. re: Miss Needle

            The #7 train from Times Square to Flushing is only 35 minutes, not one hour. So if turns out you missed the LIRR to Flushing (departs at 19 minutes after the hour - and they do depart on time) just walk eight blocks north to Times Square and catch the #7. (For the LIRR make sure to purchase the City Ticket - 40% off the normal rate.)

            1. re: scoopG

              Yup, it was my plan to take the 7. The reason I figured an hour was the walk, plus a modest wait for the train. It all adds up!

          3. - I love Guang Zhou restaurant for dim sum (particularly the rice crepes and char siu sou).

            - Get some boiled dumplings at Best North Dumpling (41-42A Main Street). The steamed pork and fennel dumplings are very nice.

            - Get some fried dumplings at the window of Zhu Ji Guo Tie (40-52 Main Street is the technical address, but the actual window is on 41st Avenue). NB: 41st Avenue and 41st Road are not the same! They are hot and a little oily, so satisfying.

            - Get a dozen meaty, juicy wontons with hot sauce, scallions, etc. on top from White Bear (135-02 Roosevelt Ave #5) for only $4.50. Don't be alarmed if the awning says something about a Travel Agency or Ice Cream! It's a dumpling and wonton hole in the wall.

            - Get some soup dumplings at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao (38-12 Prince Street). The lines are long but it's worth it. Also order the beef stuffed scallion pancake.

            - Corner 28 (40-28 Main St) has roast duck buns in a soft, white bread for $1.50. The steamed rice crepes are not worth it in my opinion. A bit gummy and too hard to eat standing up. The buns are good, though. They say Peking duck on the sign but it's not true Peking duck, but I doubt many people care.

            - The food windows undernearth the LIRR station (AA Plaza, 40-40 Main St) have scallion pancakes, chicken legs, "big" bready buns, for $1-2 each. Some people like the "big buns." I can never resist getting a hot, fresh scallion pancake.

            - XinJiang BBQ Master at 41st Ave. & Kissena Blvd. for all manner of meat kebabs.

            - The most famous Flushing "mall" written about online is the somewhat dingy, byzantine, poorly ventilated, but supercheap Golden Shopping mall (41-28 Main Street) that has multiple entrances and exits.

            The Xian Famous Foods stall (#36) has wonderful, filling cumin spiced lamb sandwiches for $2.50 and a cold noodle salad (liang pi) for $3.50, as well as hand pulled noodles with cumin lamb. Note that they have branches in Manhattan, so you could skip this stop.

            A big bowl of hand pulled noodle soup at Lanzhou Hand Pulled Noodles (#27) will run you $4-5 dependent upon if it's lamb, beef, etc. Look for the people making noodles -- you'll hear them before you see them.

            You can also grab some mouth tingling spicy dan dan noodles from Sichuan Heaven (#31) for about $4. They also have an extensive menu in photographic form on the walls, but their English is not quite so good.

            I also like Wang-Zheng's Halal Snacks (chive pocket with egg, rice noodles, you tiao) and Old Wang Ji well (comforting Fujian soups), Shangdong dumpling is only OK.

            Out of the many stalls here, I think the Xian Famous Foods stall is the most unique and friendly to the Flushing newbies, but over all this mall can be intimidating.

            - The (Western-style and less intimidating) Flushing Mall (133-31 39th Ave) has a Taiwanese food court in the basement that has Chinese sesame pancakes, soy milk, fried crullers, shaved ice, pearl milk tea, Taiwanese "gua bao," stinky tofu, hot pot, beef noodle soup and more from a variety of vendors, all in the range of $1-5. This is more like a Western food court with picnic style seating, a janitorial staff, plastic trays, but sometimes the signage is all in written Chinese. It's a little easier to ask for help here, though. I highly recommend the gua bao (from Temple Snacks, they're on the right side of the food court as you enter) and the shaved ice (from the juices/bubble tea vendor). Note that you need to order from a centralized register not at the individual stalls.

            - Go to Hong Kong Super Market (37-11 Main Street). Buy some groceries to bring back with you. The selection always seems mind-boggling to me, who is used to tiny Manhattan supermarkets.

            - Stop at the Sun Mary Bakery (13357 41st Rd). Checkout their layer cakes (green tea, etc.), cookies, and freshly made pineapple tea cakes (it's like a Fig Newton but with pineapple).

            These maps of the Golden Mall may also be helpful:

            Little Pepper
            133-43 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11354

            31 Replies
            1. re: kathryn

              OMG you have me drooling. I am never ever intimidated by such things, so it sounds like I should be heading to Golden Shopping Mall! Xian food! Hand-pulled noodles! Way too many good things to try.... And the other places you list before it. This will be a wonderful trip.

              Apropos supermarkets, we actually have Hong Kong Supermarket up here. They bought out a local Asian supermarket chain a while back (Super88). FWIW we also have a huge branch of Kam Man foods here. While nowhere near the size of NYC's Asian community, we do have a nice critical mass here. And yeah, I went to high school in Manhattan (LaGuardia, but back then it was Music and Art) and later worked in Manhattan for a while. Sometimes I just shake my head about how tiny everything is there - kitchens as well as food stores - compared to what you would find elsewhere.

              Thank you ever so much for your very thorough and helpful response!

              Golden Shopping Mall
              41-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11355

                1. re: kathryn

                  Those photos are my definition of food porn. :-)

                2. re: PinchOfSalt

                  I think you can squeeze in one more stop in addition to K's top-notch list, above (just partly kidding!)

                  But see how it goes. I was going to suggest a stop at Fu Run just to have their Muslim Lamb Chop. This will cost about $21. but you can take the uneaten part home and heat up in the over--cover with foil for about 20 minutes and then uncover for 10 more... Trust me, it is THAT good, and I've not had anything similar anywhere else. Seems like a western China/Uighur dish to me but what do I know, other than it is terrific.

                  Fu Run
                  40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                  1. re: erica

                    So you finally had it! Glad to hear it is still great. Truly a signature dish in Flushing if there ever was one. (Lamb and mutton) is popular in the north and Manchuria.

                    1. re: scoopG

                      YES, YES! Scoop: I had "IT!--the signature dish" Muslim Lamb Chop has to be in the top rank of Flushing dishes, don't you think?

                    2. re: erica

                      Yes, if it has to be one place and not a big company, then I'd think Fu Run, absolutely.
                      On your way back to the station, stop by the tofu stand at a flower shop on Roosevelt Av for their honey-taste silky tofu (豆花).
                      And then, if you have a couple minutes and a few more bucks to spare, check out the stellar Fang Gourmet tea store (芳茗軒) across the street, which is IMHO the finest quality Chinese/Taiwanese tea store in the whole US of A. Yes, please save your barbs: I know what I am asking for :-) but if you are new to their offerings, the traditional honey-roast dong ding oolong (正欉凍頂烏龍蜜香) is a good start.

                      Fu Run
                      40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                      1. re: diprey11

                        Thanks! I do enjoy Chinese teas,and I have enjoyed dong ding tea from a web-based business that alas was just bought out by Teavana (pfooey). However I do have to say Yikes! about the price I see on the Fang Gourmet website. Do they serve tea so you can try before you buy? Regardless, this does look like a great store to visit. Thanks!

                        1. re: PinchOfSalt

                          Yes, you can taste most of their teas ($5 per tasting, IIRC, except for some aged teas.) No, Teavana is not in the same league for quality, sorry: The Tea Gallery is a more appropriate point of comparison. When in store, ask for Teresa; or if you speak fluent Chinese, ask if Su Dou Wei is available.
                          If you don't like their tea because of inadequate quality, you can return it for a full refund, but I never did, and I've got close to 180 teas/vintages from them for myself and my friends over the past 3 years!
                          IMHO, they are not cheap yet worth every penny. I honestly think that even comparing their dong ding to the competition is a mistake.

                          1. re: diprey11

                            I couldn't agree more about Teavana. Thanks for confirming that I can sample before buying at Fang Tea. Since my Chinese almost non-existent (limited to a few key words found on menus and sung out by dim sum cart pushers), I will have to ask for Teresa!

                            1. re: diprey11

                              I am sorry for the typo: I surely meant 80 teas, not 180. It's not like I was buying two new teas every week. I am sorry if my message looked ridiculous.

                              The key to the goodness of their dong ding is 正, which usually translates as "traditional", but it also means "proper" (i.e., no shortcuts). The tea is hand-harvested and hand-roasted. The roast is deep and multilayered: requires skill and effort, that's why it is expensive. (But then again, half a teaspoon of a hand-rolled oolong would probably fill a smaller gaiwan.)

                              As an illustration to their dedication, there was some other tea, a heavy roast (like 90%) tieguanyin, that they stopped offering after the Taiwanese tea roaster had retired.

                          2. re: diprey11

                            agreed, the tian dou hua (silky tofu) and tian dou jiang (soy bean milk) at the flower shop are quite good. the xian dou hua is worth trying as well

                          3. re: erica

                            This sounds like a strong candidate for lunch! It seems a shame to reheat something that people agree is so good.

                            Just checked my copy of Beyond the Great Wall, and while there is some treatment of Uigur cooking, there is no lamb chop recipe for any region. (Gotta spend more quality time in the kitchen with that book!)

                            Thank you ever so much for this suggestion. This kind of tip was exactly what I was hoping for.

                            1. re: PinchOfSalt

                              My two cents, nan shian dumpling house for their soup dumpling, just their soup dumpling, eat it their then leave and continue on with your food journey.
                              Fried wonton from Chiu's down the block from Corner 28 (parallel to the LIRR train track) to go, but pop one to two in your mouth when you first leave them. Trust me, it's worth it.

                              Not sure if you ever heard of Fung Wah bus service. $15 from Boston to Manhattan Chinatown. Catch a van service from Confucius Plaza to flushing $2 each way, leaving every 20-30 minutes or so. Drops you off around the corner from Starbuck.
                              I use to take this trip for Boston's seafood on the weekends.

                              Corner 28
                              40-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                              1. re: PaMa

                                Thanks for the tips about the soup dumplings and the fried wonton.

                                While Fung Wah does go direct to Chinatown in NYC, its departure point in the Boston area is much less convenient for me compared to World Wide Bus. The fares on the two are generally comparable. However, my Groupon is $19 round trip on World Wide Bus. How could I pass that up?

                                Yeah, Boston does have nice seafood. For a while I was a member of a seafood CSA. Day-boat fish, unloaded at Gloucester in the morning and in my fridge by evening. But that is a whole 'nother thread on a different board! (Check out the Home Cooking board for people talking about what they did with their fish from Cape Ann Fresh Catch.) I wonder if you can still go down to Sheepshead Bay (Brooklyn) and get fish from the party boats that (at least used to) dock there? The mates sold their catch at very reasonable price. It was impossible to get fresher fish than that. My father used to take the bus down to the bay and come back with a fish (typically bluefish) for my mother to cook for dinner. Once a year he and I would go out on the party boats. It was a highlight of the summer for me.

                                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                  Yes, you can get the blues straight from the boats in S'head Bay. My father used to bring them home that way when I was 13 (45 years ago) and they're still available. My friend's family owned a couple of the boats (Claire I & II). Some things shouldnt change.

                                  Back to Flushing: the Golden Mall is the thing. Just remember that there are 2 floors and the one downstairs is where much of the action is. It's easy to go, walk thru the main floor and scratch your head, wondering what all the fuss is about. Find the stairwell to get downstairs.

                                  1. re: Steve R

                                    The maps I linked to above help with that, I find.

                                2. re: PaMa

                                  Strongly disagree on Corner 28: they are just OK, but then again, Boston is not a bad destination either. I think the best Cantonese roast meats in NYC are in the Manhattan C-town.
                                  Roast Pork: it's Big Wong King vs NY Noodletown (tie: depends on you preferences);
                                  Roast Pig/Suckling Pig: NY Noodletown tied with Hsin Wong;
                                  Red octopus/squid: I think that the NY Noodletown is the best.
                                  The Deluxe Market store is often the second best in whatever you crave.

                                  In Flushing, I do recommend A&C (金山) on Main (yes, just a supermarket): please note that the owner is Taiwanese, which defines their roast meats.

                                  Corner 28
                                  40-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                                  1. re: diprey11

                                    I love NY Noodletown but the reason I think Corner 28 is interesting is because it's one of the few places you can get roast duck with hoisin sauce and scallion on a he yeh bao / lily pad style mantou by the piece.

                                    Unless you know somewhere else?

                                    Corner 28
                                    40-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                                    1. re: kathryn

                                      Unfortunately, I don't know of any other place nearby I can recommend. But I don't think Corner 28 is worth a detour for a 'hounder from Boston.
                                      Now, please correct me if I say something outright ridiculous, but hoisin sauce and scallions on a steamed bao are typical of Beijing-style rather than Cantonese duck. So, if you are looking for a fusion-style prep, I would speculate that a number of Shanghai and fusion restaurants might be a good place to look. Off the top of my head, consider Song Dynasty (aka, Andy's Seafood and Grill) in Rego Park: they are competent and they have been experimenting with Chinese cooking styles for awhile.
                                      Or if you are willing to go to the main C-town, then there are choices. First, I'd try Hsin Wong on Bayard, or--on a lucky day--Yee Li a couple doors down. (Noodletown is not a consideration)

                                      Corner 28
                                      40-28 Main St, Queens, NY 11354

                                      1. re: diprey11

                                        well its actually a cantonese version, the real version has the pancakes and they serve the duck three ways (the pancake, a stir fry and a soup), but you are correct in that it should be fairly readily available in any chinatown in america of any reasonable size.

                                        although kathryn is right in that its difficult to find it where it's served in individual portions (you usually have to order the whole duck)

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          And it is only one thin buck! A steal.

                                    2. re: diprey11

                                      diprey11 - i agree with you re: bbq. both shao la (bbq) and congee is better in manhattan than flushing

                                      i'm about to write a long review on hsin wong, i actually think their bbq is on par with big wong and ny noodletown. i had some good meals there recently

                                      1. re: Lau

                                        We're on the same page on Hsin Wong. Its baby pig is also one of the best in the neighborhood, I think.

                                          1. re: Lau

                                            Now that sounds yummy! Certainly it would be a candidate for a visit on another trip.

                              2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                I would get a few friends to join you so that you can try more things. That list kathryn put together is fantastic, and I hit up that area several times a month.

                                1. re: JMF

                                  Well, yes and no. Even if I brought some friends along this time, there would still be plenty of things we would not have a chance to fully taste and savor. (Personally, I would rather fully enjoy a few things than get only a taste of many.) Better to think about coming back over time. As it's been pointed out, the bus ride is very inexpensive, even without a groupon. Thanks anyway for the good thought!

                              3. re: kathryn

                                i'd chime in but kathryn has it covered pretty well.

                                to emphasize certain dishes / places though:
                                - White bear: i'd definitely hit white bear its one of my favorite chinese places in NY, get the wontons in hot oil
                                - Xi'an: xi'an is one of the best places in NY as well, very good. definitely get the lamb burger
                                - temple snacks: i'd recommend getting the gua bao (taiwanese hamburger)
                                - corner 28: i dont think its worth going into, but i do think the peking duck bun at the outside corner stall is worth getting

                                i'd add in nan xiang for xiao long bao (soup dumplings):

                                1. re: Lau

                                  Nan Xiang is #5 on my list! :)

                                  1. re: kathryn

                                    ohh haha ure right, i read it too fast

                              4. i would try to make a stop at m and t restaurant, it's sublime.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: daffyduck

                                  if you do go to M and T Restaurant, I would definitely order the sea intestines with leeks. not only is it delicious, the owner imports sea intestines from China. and it's not available in any of the chinese grocery stores around.

                                  1. re: daffyduck

                                    Ooooh, sea intestines. That would be something new for me. Out of curiosity, what kind of creature are they from? Do they have some resemblance to tripe or are they completely different?

                                      1. re: daffyduck

                                        Thanks! Sounds like a gotta try! But since I have time for only one sit-down meal, perhaps on another trip. That lamb chop is still at number one on my list of "musts".

                                        1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                          it is not a hot dish. neither are the qiagdao noodles. i think they would travel well if you got them to go.

                                          1. re: daffyduck

                                            Oooooh! Thanks for the info. Sounds like a great dish to take home for later consumption.

                                            1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                              yep. both dishes sit in a kind of special sauce (different sauces). the owner advised us to mix it well before eating, if you dont u make get some parts a lot saltier than others.