The other day I walked through Golden Shopping Mall, stopping to peer at the picture menu at Cheng Du Tian Fu and waving hello to the ladies at Xi’an Famous Foods, and Tian Jin Dumpling House. I left without ordering anything. This isn’t an unusual occurrence. Since I’m always on the lookout for new dishes I patrol the food court’s grotty corridors weekly. It was breakfast time and I was hungry, but nothing really struck my fancy.
So I headed over to Oriental Express Food, which lies a few storefronts south. The name on the sign—which features a locomotive chugging its way across a bowl of soup—is the only English in the joint. I headed to the last stall in the back, a hawker of thick scallion pancakes the size of manhole covers and other specialties from Tianjin.
A gent at one of the tables was tucking into what looked to be a gigantic Chinese breakfast wrap, containing a yóutiáo, or Chinese cruller. Approaching the counter, I asked to have one of these gigantic breakfast sandwiches. As I handed over three bucks and specified that I wanted it spicy I learned it’s called a jiān bĭng, or fried flat bread. After some five minutes my gargantuan breakfast wrap was ready. A thin pancake coated in egg and studded with chives was wrapped around the cruller and folded in half. It was about half the size of my head and unwieldy, but I chose to eat it with my hands anyway. It’s hard to believe that this tasty gutbomb cost only three bucks.
Somehow this carb-on-carb bonanza makes an old-school NewYork City egg on a roll seem like health food. I probably don’t need to have another jiān bĭng for at least a month. Neverthless it’s comforting to know that it’s there for those rare moments when I find myself bored with Golden Shopping Mall.
Oriental Express Food Court, 41-40 Main St., Flushing