Donny: Flushing in Queens, to many, seems like a legend, a myth, a food oasis. Maybe because it’s so freakin far out in freakin Queens that no one really want to be bothered with the train ride. That is certainly my main reason for not going to Flushing as often as I want. On a good day it’ll take me about an hour to get out there from Brooklyn.
My last trek out to Flushing was the Summer of 2008. And 3 years later I thought, “hey what the heck, let’s go check out Flushing!” and also Mr.Howard here has never been.
Howard: Yes, so we’ve been taking about going to Flushing for about three years now, but it was the news that Flushing Mall may be turned into a parking lot that spurred us to actually make the trip. I was concerned about finding vegetarian food, though Donny assured me that wouldn’t be a problem. (Donny: I did?!)
Donny: On a slightly warmer Saturday we met up at Flushing around noon. As expected the streets were extremely crowded. It was hard to navigate around people. The first place I wanted to go was the $1 duck bun place. Yes $1 for a duck bun was a pretty good deal (skin, scallion, sauce, bun). But when I ate it, all I felt in my mouth were the scallion and the bun and tasted only the hoisin sauce. Oh too bad.
Then I took Howard to the Flushing Mall (less intimidating than the basement at the Golden Shopping Center. We walked back and forth trying to decide what to eat. In the end, Howard ended up at Lanzhou Noodles so I followed him. Though instead of getting a noodle dish, I saw on their menu “spicy double cooked pork” and if you’re following me over at Midtown Lunch I’m on a mission to try and find some good ones (don’t try the version at Joe’s Shanghai it was horrible). I thought if it’s in Flushing it has to be good/authentic, right?
When I got my plate of food, the first thing I told Howard was that we totally just blew it. If we were there to sample lots of good eats why the heck did we just order a giant plate of food?! And I love rice so much that it’ll be hard for me to not eat every damn little grains of rice on the plate. Similar to the double cooked pork dish at Joe’s Shanghai, Lanzhou Noodles’ version was also cooked with bell peppers. But unlike the crap I ate at Joe’s Shanghai, this plate was delicious! Beautifully cooked pork belly with a thick sauce and a hint of spiciness. In the end I ate all of the pork belly and controlled myself from finishing all the rice. As expected we were pretty full by then.
Howard: Donny’s right, we totally blew it. Worse than that, the dishes weren’t anything special. I got an order of vegetable dumplings that needed lots of vinegar and hot sauce, and a vegetable noodle dish (top photo) that tasted like lots of other, similar dishes I’ve had before. Again, it was greatly improved by soy sauce and hot sauce.
Donny: After a walk around the mall (hoping to digest our 1st meal) we went back to the food court. Last time I was at the food court, I ate a Taiwanese burger which was like a pork belly bun but was topped with a dusting of crush peanuts. It was a little weird but good. I couldn’t find it this time but instead got a Chinese burger. It had chopped bits of pork belly between 2 buns and it was okay.
Howard: I wasn’t planning to get food from Xi’an Famous because I can get their food elsewhere, but nothing else was appealing to me. Thank goodness I did, because the Liang Pi Cold Skin Noodles were excellent. These are an early contender for best-of-the-year dish, for me. Served at room temperature, the thick, chewy noodles are doused in a fiery chili oil, and paired with crisp, raw bean sprouts and zucchini. For an extra $1 I also got some wheat gluten, which acted kind of like rubbery sponges and soaked up all of the sauce. After I finished the dish my mouth was on fire, but in the best possible way. I can’t stress enough how much I loved these noodles.
Donny: The final thing I ate was a bag of fried salt & pepper chicken from Ay Chung Noodles. In tea houses in LA, you can get the same thing but it comes with pieces of fried Thai basil as well. The chicken from Ay Chung Noodles was good and fried perfectly but it needed more salt and pepper. Though with the wax paper bag, it was a perfect snack to eat while walking to our next destination.
Sago a tea place was our final stop. By then we were pretty much full and tired. I got a small passion fruit green tea and tasted pretty good, nothing too special. While Howard got a taro pudding, purple!
Next time when we’re in Flushing, we have to remember to not go too crazy on one thing. And I hope to explore areas further away from Main St too. I’m sure there are a lot of hidden treasures. (Hopefully this new mall will be awesome!)
– Flushing Mall 133-31 39th Ave, Flushing
– Sago Tea Cafe 39-02 Main St, Flushing