03/22/13 10:47am

Soybean Chen: Flowers and Tofu, for All Occasions

New York City's only combination florist and tofu vendor.

New York City’s only combination florist and tofu vendor.

Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop is one of the more unique establishments I’ve encountered in my travels through downtown Flushing’s bustling Chinatown. For years I passed by it vaguely aware something good was being sold from the window facing Roosevelt Ave. I’m not sure why I finally stopped to check it out, but I’m glad I did. Some of the freshest, silkiest tofu ever is sold from that window, which upon further examination turns out to be a repurposed Good Humor ice cream cart. A $1.50 buys a small container of sweet or saline style. Ask for the former and Chen or his wife will pour in  a generous ladle of sweet gingery syrup. The “saline” version is topped with a bright spicy sauce made from crunchy preserved vegetables,  and dried shrimp among other things. Either is a great way to get your palate primed for day of eating in New York City’s most dynamic and diverse Chinatown. That’s why it’s always one of the first stops on my Flushing food tours.

Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop, 135-26 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing, 718-321-3982

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