This past Sunday I took a little filed trip with a group from my food blogging class (yes, I’ve been taking a blogging class at FCI, along with everything else) to Queens’ Chinatown. The trip was lead by our instructor, Steven Shaw, who showed us how to eat like royalty for very little money. We each paid in $10 to a communal pot and by the end were all stuffed with tons of food leftover.
Many of the usual suspects one would expect of snack time in China Town were present. At our first stop Zhu Ji Guo Tie, a tiny hole in the wall dumpling shop, Steven emerged with bags filled with dumplings of various kinds, scallion pancakes, and even some type of Chinese empanada. The bags were all marked with splotches of grease – that telltale sign that lets you know that the food is going to be good.
I also bravely tried a tea egg, but it proved to only look exotic. Really, it pretty much tasted like your everyday hardboiled egg.
Oh, by the way, don’t bother looking for the name and the street address, 40-52 Main Street, is only a guideline. It’s off the corner of Main and 41st Street, a few shop entrances down on 41st Street. (Across the street from the Starbucks.)
After the dumpling feast, we headed over to the Traditional Xinjiang Barbeque cart to get a taste of northwestern China. The flavors might not be exactly what you’d expect of Chinese cuisine. Our chicken and lamb skewers were spiced with cumin and just enough chili to give your taste buds a nice kick. They were super juicy, albeit a little fatty.
The cumin appreciation continued at Fu Run Restaurant on Prince Street. We got cumin-crusted lamb to go, and when they say cumin, they mean cumin. This dish was a universal favorite in the group, even amongst those that don’t usually care for the stuff. The lamb was just so tender and flavorful. (If you’d rather make just one stop at a sit-down spot in the area, I’m told this is a good choice, and would have to agree if the lamb is any indicator.)
The eating portion of the trip concluded at the food court at the Flushing Mall, which will sadly be closing soon. The group shared hand-pulled and shaved noodles.
And of course we had to have a little something sweet. Could you pass these up?!
These shaved ices look extremely decadent, but they were actually really refreshing and the perfect palate cleanser to cap off the meal(s).
Thankfully, we walked a good amount between all of these indulgences and explored the area a bit. We dove into several grocery stores to ogle the opulence of interesting ingredients. Vegetables and fruit you don’t see anywhere else.
Beautiful Dragon Fruit.
Ok, so turnips aren't exactly exotic, but they reminded me of the Turnip Spirit in Spirited Away, hence the name of this post.
(Image borrowed from this site.)
They had every kind of seafood imaginable . . .
. . . even some you might prefer to not imagine at all.
You can really find just about anything.
I have to say that despite the fact the streets and stores were teaming with people, it was much less crowded and cramped than Manhattan’s Chinatown. There was actually enough room to be able to stop and take in the variety of colors and the bounty of foods around you without getting shoved around too much, and this made for a much more pleasurable experience.
New World Mall, and it’s yet another world altogether – this time it’s the hyper-modern version of China. Robots shake bubble tea drinks and all the menus in the food court are on flat-screen TV’s that flash food porn at you as you wait. They nearly convinced me that I really wasn’t stuffed, but alas I will have to return to let them seduce me another time.
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Greg came along for the ride and was on camera duty and I think he took some pretty spectacular pictures. I admit that I might have gone a little overboard with the picture selection in this post. Here is the rest of his slideshow:
Here’s one more sit-down option: We didn’t sample any food from the gigantic East Buffet and Restaurant, but a couple people in the group had very good things to say about it in general, and about the Peking duck in particular.
If you know the area and have more suggestions, please share your knowledge so that I might have more fodder for future trips.