Once upon a time there were many places in downtown Flushing to get a slice of pizza, notably Gloria Pizza and Lucia Pizza. The former is long gone and the latter soldiers on in a space flanked by a Chinese food court and a Korean skin care emporium. And then there was T.J.’s, which served a mean kimchi slice. These days it’s easier to find a spiky durian fruit than old school New York City pizza. Enter C Fruit Life, a new Hong Kong style dessert cafe serving “Golden Pillow Durian Pizza,” a decidedly modern fusion pie.
Is jin zheng tou liu lien pi za as it’s known in Mandarin Chinese the strangest pizza I’ve had in Queens? (Yes, the pinyin for pizza is pi za.) Hard to say, after all the borough boasts both bulgogi and falafel pies. It’s certainly one of the stranger uses of the pungent durian fruit I’ve come across. For the record I happen to like durian and think it has a bad rep.
The pie was tasty enough if a tad under-done. As for the durian it was there but not in full force. The Golden Pillow pie sells for $12.95. There is a $16.95 version, which the waitress tells me uses a premium variety of the fruit. C Fruit Life is not the first chain to offer durian pizza. Pizza Hut tried it in Hong Kong last spring. I’m pretty sure I prefer my durian and my pizza as separate entities, but then again I haven’t tried the top-shelf durian version yet. At what is presumably its first New York City store, the Hong Kong-based dessert chain offers nine other pizzas, including mango love, black pepper beef, and bucolic.
On a return visit I tried something the menu listed in English as Spoiled Milky Crisp ($4.95). “Is it cheese?” I asked the waitress. “It’s milk,” she replied. I wasn’t sure whether to expect fried milk or fried cheese. Cui pi nai su, turns out to be a stack of panko crusted cheese, that I will forever think of as HK style fried cheese curds. I’m not sure whether they were curds or not, but they were quite lovely and not spoiled at all.
The vast menu, which also includes lots of medicinal tong shui soups featuring fish maw among other things, leads off with a manifesto of sorts. “C fruit life Hong Kong dessert, the master of the legendary Chinese modern dessert, brings you the most irresistible flavour and taste you would have ever imagined.” Well, at least they got the imagination part right with the durian pizza.
C Fruit Life, 135-29 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing