The last time I visited Stall Number 27 (a couple of months ago) there was nary a word of English extant: not on the menu, not even the name of the vendor, and certainly not uttered by the folks behind the counter. I had been making the rounds within the New World Mall Food Court, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, to ferret out some good candidates for my Flushing food tour and I might have passed by, but I was riveted by the maneuvers of the chef. He massaged a clump of dough on his work surface, piled a mammoth heap of meat onto it, folded it into a seriously massive cannonball, and proceeded to drop it onto his work surface repeatedly until it was ready to be rolled out and pressed into shape. I guessed he was constructing one of the examples depicted on a sign gracing the front of the booth.
I snapped a photo of it, caught the eye of the woman busy behind the counter, and pointed to the picture I had just taken. I nodded at her with questioning, raised eyebrows, she nodded back in the affirmative, and I waited, hoping for the best. The dish arrived in a tin, sliced into wedges and was surely more than I could consume in a single sitting. She held up a finger which I took to mean “wait”, went to the back, and returned with a plastic pint container filled with an unidentified liquid that she added to the bag.
After some gratifying research at home (admittedly, I have a strange idea of fun), I confirmed that I had just visited the Tianjin Baozi Shop and purchased an order of Beijing Xianghe Meatloaf, a meat pie that unexpectedly comes with complementary Tong Sui (sweet soup). The tong sui was beany, laden with rice, and barely sweet, a good foil for the slightly salty meat patty. I’ve pulled a couple of hunks of the filling out of their pancake cloak so you could see where a lot of repetitive pounding and rolling gets you. (Note that there’s a Tian Jin Dumpling House on Kissena Blvd with a very different menu.)
Oh, and as I’ve mentioned, this is all part of the process of selecting the best of the best for my ethnojunkets, so not all of the dishes I post show up on the tours, of course.
Curious about which ones we’ll actually sample? Take a tour and find out!
To learn more about my food tours, please check out my Ethnojunkets page and sign up to join in the fun!