Flushing, in many ways, is its own world. While only two stops away from Manhattan on the Long Island Railroad, this is a land of $900 one-bedroom apartments and brilliant $4 bowls of noodles. You know you've stepped foot in the right place when the signs are covered in symbols and the pavement jostles with immigrants.
I like to think of it as many the great things I liked about China, without the cabin fever of wondering if people would ever form lines again. (There are some instances here of free-for-alls, but it's easier to think of as "part of the experience.") The problem, however, is that eating here can be intimidating when menus are frequently in Chinese only and guidance can be difficult to come by.
Thankfully, in recent years, many shops have latched onto curious English-speaking clientele with with translated menus. It's now easier than ever to navigate this corner of Queens with little more than a pocketful of change and a willingness to try something new.
Our definitive guide to Flushing food courts, Part I, after the jump.
One of the best introductions to Flushing would be its food courts, where cheap eats from every food-obsessed province are served within spitting distance. A personal favorite is the Golden Shopping Mall (41-28 Main Street; map), where two disjointed floors—one street level, one basement—boast a warren of stalls and shops, where noodle slurpers sitting on folding stools are mere feet away from the insistent thwack, thwack of noodle pullers.
Over the past ten years, I've seen the space go from a T.J. Maxx imitator to half department store, half food court. Today, T.I. Mixx exists only on the sign outside while the mall's tenants frequently play musical chairs.
Since the lineup can get confusing, I've made interactive maps (available as a PDF download) to help guide you through Flushing food courts' dizzying array of offerings.
Today, I'm covering the first floor of the Golden Shopping Mall, which is frequently outshone by its more raucous and famous basement, but it shouldn't be.
Don't leave without stopping by Nutritious Lamb Noodles for an eponymous bowl, one of my favorite eats in the entire mall. The wide, flat hand-pulled noodles are truly addictive: slightly salty and chewy and complemented with a savory lamb broth that's so good even the spice lover in me couldn't bear to add chili oil to it.
Just as unmissable? The surprisingly accomplished cook at Wang-Zheng's Halal Snacks, who might show you his most prized possession under the display case.
I've typed up every menu and translated the Chinese-only menus. If you're using a mobile phone without Chinese characters installed, I've also included a translated menu image so that you can point to what you want.
Check back tomorrow for another printable interactive map, translated menus, and posts about every spot in the basement downstairs. Scroll down for direct text links to all writeups and menus.
Click here to download the first floor map as a printable PDF.
Stay tuned for the rest of Golden Shopping Mall, plus the Flushing Mall, later this week.
Places to Eat in Golden Shopping Mall's First Floor
- Golden Vietnam Bakery
- Jack Yan's / Shandong Dumpling
- Old Wang Ji + translated menu for mobile phones
- Wang-Zheng's Halal Snacks + translated menu for mobile phones
- Nutritious Lamb Noodles + translated menu for mobile phones