“We’re here at Flushing’s oldest food court,” I tell my Chinatown tour guests as we stand outside the Golden Shopping Mall before descending the stairs to the gritty wonderland of regional Chinese food. “When I first came here, I had no idea what to order because everything was in Chinese,” I continue.
Once downstairs I point out Chen Du Tian Fu, noting that it has wonderful Sichuan food. Typically we forego the fiery fare at this stall in favor of Helen You’s Tianjin Dumpling House, which is a shame because Stall No. 31, downtown Flushing’s O.G. Sichuan street food specialist, is where a decade ago myself and many other non-Chinese speaking Chinese food nerds had our first experiences with Golden Shopping Mall thanks to a legendary Chowhound post by BrianS that translated the then all Chinese red and yellow wall menu. That translation ultimately led me to bring Chinese food expert and Sichuan food specialist Fuchsia Dunlop to Golden Mall in the summer of 2008.
“They’re speaking Sichuan dialect. I love it, Sichuan dialect is so lovely,” Dunlop exclaimed as we tucked into a plate of fu qi fei pian, a tangle of tendon, tripe, and beef bathed in chili oil singing with ma la flavor. In the ten years since my visit with Dunlop, Golden Shopping Mall has been discovered. Zimmern, Bourdain, the Times, even Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien, who I once ran into dining there with his kitchen crew, have all taken a seat at the rickety stools.
The lamb and green squash dumplings at Helen You’s Tianjin Dumpling House were a revelation when I first tasted them years ago at Flushing’s Golden Mall. The tiny packages filled with lamb emit a puff of ovine aroma and burst with juices when bitten into. They remain a feature of my food tour to this day. Three years ago she opened Dumpling Galaxy, a sit-down restaurant. While I love the variety it offers—100 kinds of dumplings—sometimes, really most of the time, I prefer the hawker stand.
When I heard You was offering off menu lamb soup dumplings at Dumpling Galaxy, I forgot all about my preference for the hawker stand and hightailed it over to the restaurant. After all I am as big a fan of lamb as I am of soup dumplings. To the best of my knowledge she’s the only one in New York City offering yang rou xiao long bao.(more…)
Bracing sourness and chilies are a perfect foil for fatty beef.
Most non-Chinese speaking Flushing fans know the Henanese outfit Su Xiang Yuan by its English name, Nutritious Lamb Noodle Soup. And that milky white broth teeming with tender bits of lamb, chewy hand-pulled wheat noodles and other goodies is the star of the show.
Su Xiang Yuan got its start in the Golden Mall but has another location in New World Mall with a deeper menu offering such dishes as da pan ji, or big tray of chicken, and suan tang fei niu, fat beef slices in sour stock. I broke with lamb noodle tradition to try the fatty beef dish yesterday, and I’m glad I did. Normally I doctor up the lamb noodle soup with chili paste and vinegar. Given that it was already a sour soup and the sight of a few chilies I decided to enjoy it as is.
Glass noodles and ribbons of tofu skin lurked beneath the surface of fatty ribbons of beef, crunchy sour cabbage, and pickled peppers. The bracing sour broth and chilies were a perfect foil to the ribbons of fatty beef. This dish also came with a bowl of white rice. I alternated between eating it on its own and putting slices of beef on top. I’ll definitely be back for another bowl or two of this stuff.
It bears pointing out that there is no English name for the New World Mall location, you can easily spot it though. It’s the one in the back right corner playing a loop of Anthony Bourdain eating their soup.
Su Xiang Yuan, No.28, New World Mall Food Court, Flushing
Offal—tongue, tripe, heart, even face, among other so-called off cuts—happens to be one of my favorite things to eat. As with most of my stranger culinary predilections, I blame it on my old man who always made sure to include plenty of hearts whenever he cooked up a batch of chicken soup. Thus I present a list of some of my favorite nasty bits.
Husband and wife offal slices at Golden Mall.
1. Fu qi fei pian, Cheng Du Tian Fu
The story goes that fu qi fei pian, or husband and wife offal slices, are so named because the couple who created this classic dish back in Chengdu, Sichuan, had an especially harmonious union. While that tale may be apocryphal the union of meaty beef tongue; funky chewy ribbons of tripe; and translucent swatches of tendon bathed in chili oil and shot through with peanuts cilantro, and just enough Sichuan peppercorn to set your mouth atingle is especially delicious. My favorite place to dig into this fiery heap of beef offal is Cheng Du Tian Fu in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Cheng Du Tian Fu, No. 31, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main St., Flushing(more…)
Gong Xi Fa Cai! The year of the Wood Horse is upon us. To aid in your celebration of the 15-day Chinese New Year, here’s a short list of some of my favorite dishes in what I humbly consider to be the tastiest Chinatown in America.
Fu Run’s festive looking golden corn pancake.
1. Golden Corn Pancake, Fu Run The granddaddy of Dongbei cookery in Flushing is best known for the Muslim lanb chop, but it’s specials, like the festive lookinghuang jin yu mi lao,or golden corn pancake($15.95)that keep me coming back. Despite the name it’s not stack of hoe cakes, but rather some lovely fried corn croquettes. The loosely bound kernels are interspersed with carrots and peas and laid out in a star pattern. Other standout specials include the spicy fried crabs. Fu Run, 40-09 Prince St, Flushing, 718-321-1363 (more…)
Thanks to Gary Stevens for turning me on to this great piece on Wai Wai, the Nepalese snack that’s become something of an obsession for me. In it the author describes how the noodles eaten raw were the province of the cool kids in his school. Nice to know I’m finally one of the cool kids.
Max Falkowitz waxes rhapsodic about his favorite steakhouse, and it’s not Peter Luger’s, but rather Argentinean steakhouse El Gauchito in Corona. “The crust is a rich, purple-tinged mahogany, heavily dosed with salt; it gives way to a buttery, resoundingly beefy interior without a trace of chewiness,” he writes of the skirt steak. Have a feeling I’ll be going there soon. (more…)