Thursday, June 25, 2015

I Like Chinese... Flushing, New York.

There is no question that there is an unseen world. The problem is, how far is it from midtown and how late is it open?” Woody Allen
When I die take me to a Chinese food mall in Queens.... pleeeease?
Ah, to be back home in New York! Yes, home, because I, unlike billions of unfortunate Earthlings, was actually born and raised here. I don't live in New York any longer, but it lives in me. I live in the unseen world beyond midtown and only come home on annual pilgrimage. I'm in New Jersey, and New York City is a mere five miles away. My first pilgrimage was to Flushing, Queens, New York's largest Chinatown. You can find Chinese food everywhere in the world, but it isn't the same as Queens. Take the 7 subway all the way to the end of the line and there you will find some of the best regional Chinese food in North America.

The cheapest great thing you can put in your mouth in new York.
As you leave the subway, the corner is home to the legendary one dollar duck bun lady. No longer a single lady selling Peking duck buns, this is now a full on snack empire, with several Duck Ladies and the prices have soared to $1.25 for what may be one of the best things for sale in edible New York. Steamed bun, slice of Peking duck, crispy skin, scallion and hoisin sauce. 

Three bites of crispy duck goodness.

Flushing is vast: it would take months to really get a grasp of all the Chinese lunches available here, not to mention huge Indian and Korean populations. While Manhattan's old Chinatown is a bastion of old school Cantonese food, and east Broadway is home to newer and cheaper Fujian places, Flushing is the home base for a much more diverse Chinese community. There are Northern Chinese, Hui Muslim, Szechuan, and various oddball minority Chinese restaurants. There are street vendors, noodle shops, windows selling snacks, dumpling trucks, dim sum and seafood palaces. And most importantly, there are the food courts. 

Aron trying a new herbal iced tea in front of the Jmart-New World food Mall.
The two best known are the Golden Mall food Court a small and decidedly down-market snack mecca. This is where the famous Xian Famous food chain began on the reputation of their hand pulled noodles and the legendary lamb face salad.

Cute little lamb faces chopped into a spicy salad.
For a cleaner, less crowded experience, we walked across the street from the subway to the entrance of the New World Mall. In the basement food court there are about thirty places serving different styles of Chinese cuisine - all at affordable prices. A guy hand pulls noodles to order at one, another does Uigher lamb kebabs at another, and all kinds of dumpling and hot pot stands compete for your appetite. Always looking for something adventurous (remember the poop soup at Bo Ky?) I spotted a Taiwanese shop advertising this. 

Is that a Polish traffic warning or a Chinese lunch?
Stinky tofu! The food so radically repugnant that Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods could not down a serving! I had to try it! Stinky tofu is fermented tofu. And tofu is basically fermented soy beans. So what do you get when you ferment an already fermented food? Basically this is what happens during our digestive process. The result, as we all know from fart jokes, has a distinctive smell. 

Why was this not on my school lunch menu in the third grade?
This consisted of light tofu squares fried crispy and served with a hot sauce and ground daikon radish. It was actually quite good, especially on a hot day, but true to its name it was stinky. It actually did smell like something that had just been digested and... OK, it smelled like shit. Tasty shit, I will admit, but this was truly cuisine de toilet joke. I am glad I ate it, in the same way that I can proudly claim to have eaten raw sea cucumber, jelly fish salad, pig intestine andouillette sausage, and Bo Ky's unmentionable parts of pig soup. 

Crab filled Shanghai soup dumplings. Hand pulled noodles. Discuss.
This place is amazing. What can you say as you take the escalator down into the food court to be greeted by a huge banner advert in Chinese promoting a casino on the Mohegan Indian Reservation in Connecticut? 
As we say in Mohegan, "Côci numits, asu cánaw nupuyôtum"
I have only one answer to that question. I am home!


dlwilson26 said...

I wrote to you before and invited you to our weekly luncheon. We are a bunch of Jewish and Italian guys from Paterson who meet once a week. We are always on the lookout for the next hole-in-the-wall place. We can turn you on to some of the best places in the area. Email me. We'd love to host, roast, and, and toast you.

By the way, did you try the "E-pies" place on Roosevelt Ave. when you were in Flushing?

Anonymous said...

And tofu is basically fermented soy beans.

Not so. Tofu is coagulated soymilk: no fermentation takes place (unless it's fermented tofu, of course).