“I’ve walked by this place dozens, maybe hundreds of times, until I finally tried it.” It’s a common refrain on my Flushing Chinatown food tours, as we stop at White Bear or Soybean Flower Chen. And so it goes with the $1.25 cài bĭng that I found yesterday at the purple-awninged Super Snack, a counter just outside the 41st Road entrance of the Golden Shopping Mall. I’ve been seeing the veggie sandwiches around for years, and recall Calvin Trillin writing about a similar one in Manhattan’s Chinatown years ago. At $1.25 this “vegetable cake,” is more expensive than the nearby $1 Peking duck sandwich from Corner 28, though arguably better for one’s health. The slightly doughy flatbread is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any. It’s the cheapest , tastiest veggie sandwich I’ve ever had in Flushing.
Super Snack, 41-28 Main St., Flushing, (718) 886-2294
A potage of poultry and potatoes sits atop a bed of hand-pulled noodles.
Dà pán jī—or “big tray of chicken” is a Henanese dish I’ve been meaning to try for some time. I’d forgotten all about dà pán jī until I started seeing it at the New World Mall Food Court, notably at the purple curvilinear stand Stew where it goes by the rather ungainly yet specific English name “chicken potato noodle.” For an additional four bucks one can procure beef, lamb, or fish potato noodle. As I snapped a photo of the Chinese language sign for the dish, which shows Stew’s chef giving a thumbs up and some characters that likely translate to “Best big tray of chicken in the free world,” my friend from the neighboring Stall No. 28 waved me over. (more…)
Can you give me a recommendation for a place in Queens to eat oxtails? Paul Z., Bayside,N.Y.
There are many good West Indian places to eat oxtails in Queens, but I suggest that you go Chinese. The stewed oxtail over rice special at Liang’s Kitchen (133-51 39th Ave., Flushing, 347-506-0115)is quite lovely. For a spicier approach I highly recommend the oxtail and hand ripped noodles atBiang! (41-10 Main St., Flushing, 718-888-7713.)
Whenever I go to the Golden Shopping Mall I find myself very overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds,and aromas. What’s the best thing to eat there? Baffled in Brooklyn
You are not alone, the first time I went there I left without ordering a thing because I was completely overwhelmed. (more…)
Doctoring up Tasty Sweety’s durian sago soup with even more durian.
“If you don’t like durian we shouldn’t sit so close to the counter,” a 40-something Chinese man said to his family as they entered Tasty Sweety a cute little shop in downtown Flushing that specializing in Hong Kong style dessert soups, including those made with durian. As I got up to leave, I smiled at him. “Oh, you must like it,” he said. (more…)
I’m proud to announce that in the interest of sharing the love and deliciousness we all crave C+M’s Photo Friday is taking reader submissions via Instagram. This week’s entry—大嘴饼 Da Zui Bing (literally ‘Big Mouth Pastry) at Liang’s Kitchenor “humongous sesame-studded pastry shells stuffed with minced meat, spring onions and Chinese parsley”—comes from my good friend, Colin Goh, who as always proves to be a font of information about dining in downtown Flushing. To submit your delicious finds simply tag your Instagram photos with #CMSHUNGRY. And while you’re at it check me out on Instagram, joedistefanoqns.
Most people go to Jazz Fest for the music. I go to Jazz Fest for the food, and there is no food I enjoy on the fairground of Jazz Fest more than an oyster po-boy. “What’s the big deal?” ask those who are less obsessed by food. “A po-boy is just a sandwich, right?” Well, not exactly. If it’s just a sandwich then it should be possible to find a well-executed po-boy anywhere in the world. The truth is the probability of finding a good oyster po-boy diminishes the further away you get from New Orleans. Even in the Big Easy, you find many mediocre po-boys but few great ones. (more…)
Malaysian mooncake with pandan filling and a salted egg center.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking tea at Yumcha Yoga in Flushing. It’s a monthly ritual (yumcha means to drink tea in Cantonese) over at the newish yoga school established by the creators of Dim Sum Warriors. This month’s theme? Mooncakes, the dense, sweet Chinese treats eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Theresa Wong of Fang Gourmet Tea paired the cakes with a lovely aged pu-er tea. Afterwards she told me that she’s not really a big fan of mooncakes. So with the moon hanging heavy in the sky and the festival falling this Thursday here’s what I’d like to know. Do you dig mooncakes? Or do you liken them to hockeypucks? And if you do like them what’s your favorite? Mixed nut, Malaysian pandan flavored, the platter sized discus that is Fujianese mooncake,or some other variety? For the record my favorites are the Malaysian ones.
Good day, sunshine! Buttery coconut sunshine, that is.
Forget Cronuts, fauxnuts, and even, dare I say, fresh-filled cannoli. The object of my pastry desires these days is the coconut egg tart from New Flushing Bakery. I used to think the egg tarts at this Chinese bakery on Roosevelt and Main were pretty good. And then I tried the Portuguese egg custard, which was even better. It was only recently that I ate the life-altering coconut egg tart. It’s the jewel in the crown of this bakery that’s known as the Egg Tart King. Think of it as the love child of a macaroon and an egg tart, with the chocolate gene being recessive. Lighter than a macaroon and less eggy than an egg tart, it is truly delightful. The sunny yellow coconut-egg filling has a crisp brown top and sits in a buttery crust. And with the bakery’s buy three get one free deal the price works out to four for $3.99. Trust me, you’ll eat them. Oh and get this, as anybody who’s taken my Flushing food tour knows, the bakery has a satellite location in the J-Mart supermarket.
New York only 10-decker Chinese breakfast sandwich will set you back $1.75.
It’s been said that the breakfast sandwich—an egg or two on a roll with cheese and bacon—is a New York City thing. I’m not sure whether that’s entirely true, but I do know that Chinese breakfast sandwiches are fairly uncommon in Flushing’s Chinatown. Sure jiān bĭng,and other wraps use eggs and are eaten for breakfast, but they hardly qualify as sandwiches. So I was quite excited when one morning I spotted the most extreme breakfast sandwich ever at Sun Mary Bakery. Barely visible through the steamy window of the warming box it appeared to consist of multiple layers of bread themselves encased in dough. As I soon found out it is, in fact a 10-decker Chinese breakfast sandwich. Layer number one is a puff pastry that holds the whole crazy thing together. Inside that ring of flaky goodness are five slices of white bread, alternating with ham, cheese, dried pork sung, and a slab of fried egg. It’s a filling, tasty carb bomb that goes great with a cup of coffee milk tea. Best of all at $1.75 it’s roughly half the price of a classic New York City breakfast sandwich.
Chatime food court, home to Flushing’s fiercest fried chicken rivalry.
Once upon a time not too long ago on the corner of Main Street and Maple Avenue in New York City’s most magical Chinatown there was a food court that went by the name Savor Fusion. Its overlord was a distinguished Taiwanese gent named Bobby Lee, who looked like he just stepped out of a Hong Kong gangster flick. Depending on the day’s vibe, the mustachioed Bobby was either chilling with his attractive and much younger wife, getting into a fracas with rowdy patrons, or giving out fruit to his handpicked roster of vendors who represented cooking styles from all over China. One thing was always certain though, excellent food turned out by two female chefs.
Mind and palate-blowing Sichuan fare—dan dan mian, spicy fried fish, and all manner of spicy pickles—was the specialty of the charmingly gruff Zhū Dà Jiě. Home-style Taiwanese chow, including lovely salt and pepper fried chicken, was the province of the equally gruff matriarch of Taipei Hong. Sadly Savor Fusion is no more, but Zhū Dà Jiě. now has her own restaurant, which is quite excellent. Taipei Hong and its magnificent chicken were but a distant memory. I’d given up all hope of ever tasting it again. Then one day I ran into the chef on Roosevelt Avenue. I’d already eaten a substantial meal at the New World Mall, but she insisted on showing me her new joint. (more…)