Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall, a Flushing Gem Hidden in Plain Sight
Since its days as a mere dumpling cart stationed on Main Street, Zhu Ji Dumpling has grown as a fixture in the Flushing community. Across the street from Starbucks on Main, Zhu Ji Dumpling is now a small hole-in-the-wall eatery. Most of their sales are conducted at a to-go window, with only 3 stools and a small ledge inside for those looking to linger.
Lines form regularly for their dumplings, traditional Northern Chinese style guo tie, which are handmade daily, stuffed with pork and leeks and fried to a bubbling oily crisp. There is soy sauce and watered-down Sriracha available, but the dumplings themselves contain so much of rich pork soup, additional fixings just seem superfluous.
If you're in the mood for something more substantial, try Zhu Ji's famous shan jian bao: mini pork buns with a soupy broth that are steamed and finished with a quick sear, crisping the bottoms of the otherwise fluffy white bao. Toasted sesame seeds are sprinkled on top each order, four plump buns stuffed into a takeout styrofoam box. Their cong you bing are also delicious hot from the griddle: thick scallion pancakes fried on a griddle and served in a wax pastry bag slick with oil.
For a traditional Chinese breakfast, Zhu Ji offers both sweet and savory dou jiang, homemade soybean milk, and you tiao, fried dough crullers, for dunking. The hot and sour soup comes loaded with tofu and woodear mushrooms, tangy with red rice vinegar. Also available are "sumo buns," enormous steamed buns about 9 inches in diameter.
Most impressive is Zhu Ji's delicate duo hua, a warm tofu dessert ladled from a giant wooden tub. Each custardy pint is scooped to order, served with a salad-dressing-sized container of rock sugar syrup on the side.
This is not a snack stop for the weak-of-artery, but a hearty upgrade from the meat skewer carts that litter Flushing's sidewalks. Most menu offerings are priced between $1.00 and $1.25.
Zhu Ji Dumpling Stall
40-52 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11354 (map)