12/05/14 10:39am
NYFCSICHFRONT

Spectacular Sichuan street food can be had at No. 25.

“It’s the same thing as New World Mall Food Court,” a local restaurant owner said of downtown Flushing’s latest entrant in the Queens Chinatown food court game. Indeed the first thing one sees when entering the month-old New York Food Court is Tokyo Express, a fake Japanese chicken teriyaki joint that looks suspiciously like the one in New World Mall. And, yes just like at New World Mall Food Court, there’s yet another branch of Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles as well as several spicy stir fry by the pound places, including the ridiculously named Incredibowl. Nonetheless I’ve been able to ferret out some good stuff. Let’s start with Szechuan Taste, No. 25, which lies just beyond the jivey Japanese. (more…)

11/26/14 1:03pm
Joe_Rosanna2

Rosanna Scotto and I about descend into the Golden Shopping Mall Food court.

I have a lot to be thankful for this year, first and foremost the gifts of home, health and family. Heck I even got to partake of a turducken. Certainly I am grateful for continuing to eat my way through the most delicious and diverse destination on the entire planet. And the opportunity to turn others on to the wonders of Queens via food tours.

A few weeks ago Rosanna Scotto’s people looked me up and asked if I’d take her on a tour for “Wining and Dining With Rosanna.” So I did, it’s not every day that I get to share air time with folks like Bobby Flay. We hit Flushing and Jackson Heights hard from lamb spine to tawa katakat.  You can watch the episode here. Scotto’s no Andrew Zimmern  when it comes to adventurousness, but then again who is? Hoping you have a delicious Thanksgiving.

P.S. if you’re looking for something to do on Black Friday, I highly recommend the black goat feast at Bang Ga Ne. As for me I’ll be leading a tour of America’s best Chinatown.

10/21/14 10:22am

 jason xianJason Wang, CEO of Xi’an Famous Foods, took a business that his father David “Liang Pi” Shi started in the 36th chamber of Flushing’s fabled Golden Shopping Mall, and made it truly famous spawning a mini-empire, specializing in cold skin noodles—squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things—and other regional specialties. The 25-year old noodle mogul took a break from the Forbes 30 under 30 Conference and was kind enough to answer 7 Questions.

Tell me about the two new Xi’an Famous Foods stores you have in the pipeline? How will they differ from
the other locations?
They’ll be very similar to our later locations in terms of the food, but each location has its own feel. The new Greenpoint location, for example, will have a backyard dining area, the first one of Xi’an Famous Foods with one, and the upcoming 34th Street location will have the biggest space out of all of our stores, with a mezzanine level featuring skylights.

You went to culinary school for a little bit, did that change your approach to the cuisine at Xi’an Famous Foods?
It widened my view of cuisine a bit, as it gave me an idea of how western cuisine is prepared, the fundamentals, and how in the end, it is still similar in some ways to Chinese cuisine. While it did not directly affect our ways of preparing our foods, it does make me more aware of possibilities and possible future applications of western approaches to our eastern ways of cooking. (more…)

09/15/14 12:23pm

With such a diversity of culinary cultures Queens boasts all kinds of noodles from all kinds of places. Cold, hot, spicy, even dessert they come in all shapes, sizes and flavors. Here are seven of our favorites.

BIG-TRAY

1, Da pan ji, Su Xiang Yuan
One of the most surprising things about da pan ji, the Henanese specialty known as “big tray of chicken,” is that it’s actually a big tray of poultry, potatoes, and noodles. And not just any old noodles either, they are the very same springy broad ribbons that grace the specialty of the house at this stand whose name is often translated to Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup. There’s no soup to be found in the tray though. Instead find hacked up bits of bird and chunks of potatoes atop a bed of hand-pulled noodles. The whole thing is crowned with fresh cilantro and shot through with dried chilies awash in a curry-like concoction with just a touch of star anise along with pleasant bursts of saltiness from preserved beans. The noodles are a perfect vehicle for all that sauce. Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing (more…)

07/14/14 10:30am
sichnoodles1

‘Sweet noodles’ lashed with sesame sauce and topped with garlic paste.

Cold sesame noodles are an American Chinese staple that I haven’t eaten in quite some time. It’s not that I don’t like them. It’s just that the hyper-regional, hyperauthentic hawker stands that I frequent don’t serve them. Yesterday I learned that there’s a warm Sichuan version of this dish. It goes by the moniker sweet sauce noodles. Or at least it does at Cheng Du Tian Fu, my favorite Sichuan snack stall in Flushing’s Chinatown. (more…)

05/12/14 10:02am
TIANJINDUMPLINGS

Tianjin Dumpling House’s snazzy new customizable dumpling menu.

One of the coolest things about Golden Shopping Mall apart from all the delicious regional Chinese food is watching the ebb and flow of the various family run hawker stands. Over the six years I’ve been eating at the labyrinthine Flushing food court there have been stands that keep chugging along—Sichuan specialist Cheng  Du Tian Fu and Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup come to mind—and wild success stories like Xi’an Famous  Foods.

Lately one of my favorite stands has been Tianjin Dumpling House. Back when I took Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert to the Golden Shopping Mall the most notable thing about the dumplings at what was then called Xie’s Home Cooking, or Xie Jia Tsai, was an off-flavor that Ripert said resembled cigarette ashes. About a year or so Xie’s was rebannered Tianjin Dumpling House. A menu boasting a dozen kinds of dumplings, including the amazing lamb and green squash, was added. And about two weeks ago things got real deep when my friend Helen rolled out a customizable dumpling menu. For a mere $5 a dozen (a buck extra for shrimp or fish) you can design your own dumplings, which are freshly made and steamed on the spot. Some folks—not me, mind you—might call them bespoke dumplings. (more…)

03/11/14 10:15am
LIANGPI

Cold skin noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods are as spicy and refreshing as ever.

Way back in 2005, Xi’an Famous Foods had but one location, in what I like to call the 36th Chamber of the Golden Shopping Mall. It was presided over by an affable gent who went by the nom de cuisine Liang Pi, after his signature dish liang pi, cold skin noodles. Today it’s become a mini empire with five locations, upscale sister restaurant Biang, and a Brooklyn commissary.

Back in the day the most notable design elements were rickety folding stools and 100-pound bags of wheat flour arrayed like sandbags along the back wall. “My name is Liang Pi,” he would proudly say as he ladled out the dish. Many of his customers came from the same region and seemed absolutely thrilled to find  a dish from back home in Queens. Legions of hungry regional Chinese cuisine fiends were pretty thrilled too. I’d never tasted anything like cold skin noodles before: squidgy, porous blocks of wheat gluten and chewy ribbons of wheat starch, tossed with bean sprouts, cilantro, slivers of cucumber and a “secret sauce” made from sesame paste, vinegar, and chili oil, among other things. “I have it for breakfast at least three times a week,” one fan told me. (more…)

01/22/14 3:43pm

When I was lad there was no such thing as a “polar vortex,” we called it winter—and reveled in it. Decades of relatively mild winters have spoiled me and many other New Yorkers. As a public service to help you thaw out from Winter Storm Janus, C+M presents a bone-warming roster of some of our favorite soups in Queens from Long Island City to Flushing, and points in between.

YUNNANPORKRICESOUP

1. Yunnan rice noodle soup with pork at Crazy Crab
Find this lovely bowl at New York City’s only crab shack/Burmese/Yunnanese  spot. Warm up with tender chunks of pork and a spicy broth enlivened by a fresh squeeze of lime. It’s a taste of Southwestern China by way of Flushing. Not a bad deal at all, for $8.99.  Crazy Crab 888,40-42 College Point Blvd, Flushing 718-353-8188

MUTONKOTSU

2. Tonkotsu 2.0 at Mu Ramen
When the sun goes down and it’s brick cold out, head to over to Bricktown Bagels, which turns into Long Island City’s only ramen-ya. Joshua Smookler’s Tonkotsu 2.0 ($15) is made from six different types of pork bones, including shanks that cook for more than 20 hours. Topped with a slick of mayu (black garlic oil) and wobbly bits of tontoro (pork jowl), the soup is rich and complex. Best of all it has plenty of marrow thanks to all those shanks. Mu Ramen, 51-06 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Tues-Sat 6:30 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (more…)

12/30/13 2:50pm

As 2013 draws to a close rather than offer up a list of resolutions—less chips more gym, save money, etc.—C+M offers a list of 20 of our favorite posts, a highlight reel of the year that was. Let the mostly Queens-focused cavalcade of offal, sandwiches, mashups, secret eats and deliciousness begin.

Crazy Crab’s Yunnan special sliced pork salad.

1. Best use of Pig Face
Crazy Crab’s Yunnanese pig face salad is a spicy sour, salty, and unabashedly funky showcase for swatches of cool, slightly chewy pig skin.

2. Best Fizzy Water for Gluttons
Apart from being the preferred beverage of Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin the selling point of Borjomi, a Georgian sparkling mineral water, is that it “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” or as expressed in more forthright language elsewhere on the company web site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”

3. Flushing’s Cheapest Veggie Burger
The $1.25 cài bĭng at Super Snack, a counter just outside Golden Shopping Mall is packed with crunchy piquant mustard greens and is as fine a snack as any.

(more…)

11/13/13 10:16am
CAIBING

Behold the Chinese veggie burger!

“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