When leading food tours of downtown Flushing, I often boast that it is America’s best Chinatown. I’m also fond of pointing out Queens has two Chinatowns: the bustling hub that radiates outward from Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue and a little sister in Elmhurst. Until now there’s been little interchange between the two. All that changed with the opening of Happy Stony Noodle a couple of weeks ago.
“OMG where is that,” more than one friend asked when I sent a photo of Elmhurst’s oddest named and newest Taiwanese eatery. My pals’ surprise can be traced to the fact that Happy Stony isn’t new at all. It’s a reboot of Happy Beef Noodle (Kuai Le Niu Rou Mian) a much-loved spot on Prince Street that closed years ago. (more…)
Just spicy enough to keep me coming back for more.
My love of spicy food is hereditary, passed on by a father who loved everything from Tabasco to Taco Bell Fire sauce. There are, however, some things that are too hot for my cast iron palate. Many fall into the category of “dare you to try” dishes or extreme hot sauces. (more…)
“Wow, you like hot oil,” more than one waiter at the Chinese joint in Levittown would say to my father when he requested a small dish of the stuff. “Hot oil make you live a long time.” Earlier this week Time published an article citing a link between eating fiery food and longevity, based on a study of about 500,000 Chinese.
Lu Qi, the author of the study writes “It appears that increasing your intake moderately, just to 1-2 or 3-5 times a week, shows very similar protective effect,” he says. “Just increase moderately. That’s maybe enough.” Based on that statement I might just live forever. With further ado, please enjoy this list of C+M’s favorite spicy foods in Queens.
1. Kuai tiao Summer, Plant Love House
I may no longer order my food Thai spicy. , but the bowl of Kuai tiao that goes by the name Summer ($12.95) at Plant Love House, remains the most incendiary Thai noodle soup I have ever slurped. “Summer. The heat is real. Dare you to try,” reads a menu insert with a picture of this blazingly hot take on tom yum. A gigantic prawn lolls in the red broth along with a hard-boiled egg, bacon, and a home-made sweet pork patty. The latter is a good counterpoint to the spicy broth which has an undertone of lime, chili, and garlic. There’s a nice smokiness from the bacon, but above all there’s the unmistakable flamethrower heat that comes from plenty of red chilies. Plant Love House, 86-08 Whitney Ave., Elmhurst, 718-565-2010
2. Sandheko wai wai, Dhaulaghiri Kitchen
Whenever I try to characterize Nepali food, I find myself saying, “It’s like Indian food but spicier and different.” Sandheko Wai Wai ($3.50), a Nepalese chaat made from crushed ramen noodles fits both descriptors. The noodles are mixed with onions, raw garlic, tomatoes, red pepper, and plenty of green chilies, among other things. Crunchy and spicy it will have you mopping your brow. Dhaulagiri Kitchen, 37-38 72nd St., Jackson Heights(more…)
A cool bowl of Gui Zhou liang fen–sour, spicy, slippery–just the thing for the dog days.
There was a time and place when cold noodles meant one thing—and one thing only—sesame noodles. The time: circa 1976. The place: any number of strip mall Chinese joints in Nassau County. These days, here in Queens, the cold noodle choices are far more diverse from Korean naeng myun and Tibetan laphing serpo to Sichuan cold noodles and liang pi. The latest entry into Queens’ polyglot noodle pantheon is Gui Zhou liang fen.(more…)
Zhi zi liang fen, slippery cool, and garlicky as all getout.
“What’s your favorite noodle dish?,” is a question I’m asked all too often. As a food nerd I have about a dozen favorites encompassing Thai,Uzbek, and Chinese. One of my top Chinese noodles these days is the ma la liang mian or cold noodles—humming with ma la flavor of tingling Sichuan peppercorns combined with red chilies—from Szechuan Taste.
It’s so good that it’s taken me a year to start ordering the stall’s other cold noodle specialties like zhi zi liang fen, or gardenia bean jelly ($3.75). Despite the English name, there are no flowers in it whatsoever. Just Like its bone-white cousin liang fen, this sunnier version is made with mung beans. (more…)
The canteen located in the basement of the Šri Mahã Vallabha Ganapati Devasthãnam, more commonly known as the Ganesh Temple, is one of my favorite non-Chinese haunts in Flushing. I’m especially fond of turning tour groups on to the 2-foot long paper dosa. In addition to many varieties of the rice and lentil crepes there is an abbreviated selection of snacks and sweets. The other day I tried a ladoo. Slightly smaller than a handball the golden hued treat is made from chickpea flour, and is the elephant-headed god’s favorite mithai.(more…)
Crunchy, spicy, and salty baby squid from Shanghai 33.
As an Italian-American, I cut my teeth on fried calamari. Whether made at home by my old man or at the Long Island outpost of Vincent’s Clam Bar, it was almost always eaten with a marinara sauce spiked with copious amounts of red pepper. The other day I tried a Chinese twist on fried squid at Shanghai 33 that was simply amazing. (more…)
Truly good Chinese sandwiches are few in and far between in Queens. While the yang rou jiao mou—a spicy cumin lamb sandwich from Xi’an Foods—remains a long-time favorite, the house special pork chop from The Crispy Pancake is my current Chinese sandwich crush. A deep fried pork cutlet topped with lettuce and crowned with a runny fried egg is stacked between two shatteringly crisp pancakes, forming one of the craziest, most delicious Chinese sandwiches in downtown Flushing. (more…)
El Salvador’s version of the quesadilla is not what you think.
As one of the only Salvadoran spots in the largely Asian stronghold of Flushing, El Ranchito De Daisy is quite an anomaly. The pupusas are good but the quesadilla Savadoreno ($3) is really quite remarkable.
“What’s that I asked?” spying the golden brown ovoids lining the counter. “Quesadilla,” came the response. “Quesadilla!!? Quesadilla de que?” I asked in my best bad Spanish. “De arroz,” the gent behind the counter replied. (more…)
Peng Shun’s Mongolian roast lamb ribs are astounding.
“Wow I think you renewed my faith in this dish,” a dining companion said the other day. He was talking about Muslim lamb chop a delicacy that rose to ascendancy on cumin-scented wave of glory at Fu Ran neé Fu Run about five years ago. Sadly Fu Ran’s version ain’t what it used to be. On my last few visits it was precooked, rendering what should be gloriously juicy, fatty lamb flesh rather dry and tight.
Muslim lamb chop also called lamb in Xinjiang style is a specialty of Flushing’s Dongbei restaraunts. The version that rocked our world’s can’t be had at a restaurant though. It’s served in a much more humble setting, New York Food Court.(more…)