Jason, in front of Xi'an Famous Foods' new restaurant Biang!. "Since I usually eat by myself, my eating options are limited to food courts or take out from 'over-rice' type of places." It's simple stuff, but it doesn't disappoint.
Stop # 1, Ten Ren
We started our afternoon with bubble tea from Ten Ren, one of the neighborhood's tea and ginseng shops that doubles as a bubble tea parlor.
"I like this place. They really focus on the tea."
Relative quiet on Roosevelt Avenue, perhaps the most sign-splosive street in the neighborhood.
Stop #2, CLOSED
You win this round, DOH. The sign was, unbeknownst to us, posted earlier that day, but we're happy to learn that this restaurant is back up and running after a short squabble with the health department.
Stop # 3, Chinese-Korean Noodles & Dumpling at the Flushing Mall
This Northeastern Chinese dumpling and noodle counter can be found in the retail area of the Flushing Mall, near the furniture stores, ping pong tables, and the...
...right across the hall. Remember that Cows on Parade exhibit from a few years back? Well two of them have settled in the Flushing Mall, in an eternal staring contest.
"Three Kinds Dumplings" stuffed with chives, pork, and shrimp. Definitely among the tastier dumplings we've had in Flushing, with bright fillings and tender, slightly chewy skins. Though we were stuffed by the end of our crawl, we couldn't resist tearing into a few leftover dumplings on our way home as the 7 train left Junction Boulevard.
Because Jason didn't think one huge plate of the dumplings were enough.
Oh, Yeah, and Noodles
Noodles in spicy, meaty broth topped with an egg. Because of course we needed these too.
Northeastern Chinese cooking draws some influence from Korean cuisine, Jason pointed out, explaining the bright red chili on top.
These ladies knew their way around a dumpling skin.
And had some awesome aprons.
Jason On Ethical Eating
We chatted about where people in Flushing go for fancier food. "Seafood's always popular. You can take a date out for seafood."
Eventually the conversation turned to lobsters, the ones in the tanks at restaurants before they become dinner. "I always feel bad for them. They're so meaty and delicious, but they don't run very fast."
That's A Lot Of Cabbage
A not-terribly-unusual sight in the Flushing Mall. "I remember having to take carts of vegetables through downtown Flushing to the store," Jason remarked. Dude, we're really happy you have more staff now.
Because why not ping pong? Half the retail shops in the Flushing Mall are empty, but the food's awesome and the ping pong tables are hopping.
Jason on Urbanism
Now that he has to travel between Queens and Manhattan to keep an eye on the Chinatown and East Village shops, I asked if he'd consider moving there. "Sometimes I feel like I'd want to move to Manhattan...but where would I put my crap?"
For now, he's staying put in Flushing, "a block away from my dad. Thank goodness. I don't think I could take it if we lived together."
Stop # 4, Iris Tea & Bakery
This is Iris Tea & Bakery, and that's a....Teletubby. Yup. Robyn and I thought something might be lost in translation, but Jason was clueless too.
The Teletubby was joined by a muffin, a cylindrical cake, a squid ink baguette, and a perfect cube of...something.
Jason Ponders The Teletubby
Apples and raisins in a sweet glaze...yeah, we're just going to relegate this to the confused pile.
Jason digs into his yogurt parfait; I take a stab at the cake. Despite the skeptical face, it's a nice brioche-ish snack that's less sweet than the typical steamed bao.
Stop # 5, New World Mall
In contrast to the stark, slightly ramshackle atmosphere of the Flushing Mall, the New World Mall is all glitz and young faces. But Jason thinks most of the stalls here deliver a high-gloss experience short on flavor. "People should focus on the food, not the packaging."
Case In Point
Yup, this stall is called Tea Twitter. And no, it doesn't have a Twitter account. But the Flushing kids seem to love it.
Lamb Noodle Soup at M. S. Hon Song Ting
But if you poke around, you can find some worthy eats. Jason is partial to this lamb and bean thread noodle soup, which, when you think about it, isn't that different from the spicy, lamb-laden noodles XFF serves. But he admits that he only eats from a XFF store "about every other day," so I'm guessing this is a meal for those off days.
Don't get in between a Central Chinese man and his spicy lamb noodles. Unless you're on your third lunch of the day and the thought of facing two of these bowls just sounds like torture.
Stop # 6, Pho Hoang Vietnamese Cuisine
One of Jason's "over rice" places, there are roast meats hanging in the window. And then there's this pig head. Hi, pig!
Roast Duck Over Rice
When this is your $6 lunch, it's easy to see why people live in Flushing.