Corner 28

Instagram Post 11/11/2018

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Pretty good, pretty reliable, and pretty quick (if you get there at the right time) dim sum from Corner 28, 135-24 40th Rd, Flushing because I was hungry, harried, and in a hurry. These Pan Fried Pork Buns, Jiao Zi, Fish Balls, and Bean Curd Skin Rolls stuffed with shrimp, pork, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts hit the spot. (Love the way the meat juices permeate the bun!)
 
 

Luo Zhuang Yuan

Instagram Post 11/9/2018

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As a habitual denizen of the Flushing food court scene, I am forever bringing hungry folks along on ethnojunkets to my favorite stalls. The only downside of this practice is that I invariably order the same reliable dishes so that they can sample the best of the best, but I never urge them to try something I’ve never experienced. I found myself flying solo the other day so I took advantage of the situation. Luo Zhuang Yuan is pretty much the first stall on the left (#26) as you enter the New York Food Court at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave and one of their specialties is Snail Rice Noodle. Of the eight variations they offered, I selected pork, very spicy.

The thin noodles were accompanied by roast pig, green bok choy, peanuts and tofu skin, all very familiar of course, in a broth for which I was completely unprepared. I like snails and I anticipated this tasting like, well, snails. Luosifen (螺蛳粉), a specialty of Liuzhou in Southern China, is all about the soup made from river snails and aromatics and it’s one of those love it or hate it foul-smelling flavors that affect people the same way that durian, stinky tofu, limburger, and couldn’t-these-have-been-cleaned-a-little-better intestines have a reputation for. Now I enjoy many, shall we say, “aromatic” foods and perhaps the fact that I wasn’t expecting quite this level of malodorousness brought me up short. Strangely, the questionable charm of the broth seemed only to intensify as I worked my way through the bowl.

Needless to say, I went home and hit the interwebs in search of more info. I learned that luosifen almost never contains snail meat, but that’s beside the point. On a more curious note, many of the articles and reviews that I found didn’t even mention its pungent nature. A few, however, confirmed that my initial confrontation was not atypical.

So, my friends, I do hope you’ll join me on a food tour soon and I guarantee, as always, that anything we taste will have been thoroughly vetted – and now you know why!
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 5

Instagram Post 11/8/2018

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As I’ve said, Nouveau Sichuan, if you’ll permit my neologism, seems to be the craze among Chinese restaurants these days. Classic Sichuan dishes appear beef cheek by pork jowl with fanciful presentations of innovative altered-state creations on menus that would make a coffee-table book pale into insignificance. Here’s the last in a series from Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall, a prime exponent of the trend.

[1] Tibet Style Lamb with Brown Sugar Rice Cake. First question: I count eight chops in compass point configuration but only two rice cakes. Those rice cakes were tasty – but were they intended as merely a flavorsome garnish? (Upon review, the menu depicted more.) The lamb was good as well, but the undergirding of spicy potatoes, peppers and onions was excellent.

[2] And finally, Stir Fried Cabbage and Bean Vermicelli. Gimmick-free, sans over-the-top-staging; simple, homespun and delicious. And maybe that’s the method in their madness at Daxi Sichuan; they aim to cover both sides of the culinary divide with some dishes that focus on eye-catching presentation and others that sustain us with mouth-watering comfort food. After all, they did just net a 2019 Michelin Bib Gourmand award.
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 4

Instagram Post 11/4/2018

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Another pair of dishes from Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall. Daxi wants to be known for its “modern interpretation of classic dishes” and our experience was certainly characterized by their attention to panache.

[1] House Special Rice & Cured Meat Country Style. The outsized, lavish menu enticed us with a larger than life depiction of this charming presentation of rice brimming with cured meat and other tempting tids and bits. Although the cast iron pot arrived as pictured, the rice was less lavishly embellished than we had anticipated. Still, the dish was certainly good if a bit overhyped. If it had arrived on a standard serving plate, I would have been just as happy.

[2] Sautéed Pork Chengdu Style. Chinese bacon with spicy green pepper and garlic; simply produced and tasty. They do well when they’re not trying too hard to impress with stylishness.
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 3

Instagram Post 10/31/2018

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Dinner and a show at Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall. Exhorted by our server to hurry up and finish taking our pictures lest the crispy rice get soggy, we dutifully complied. She then proceeded to smash the parabolic rice cake with uninhibited abandon using the back of her ladle as a bludgeon until it was well incorporated into the Seafood Crispy Rice Soup. The crunchy bits were certainly tasty, as was the soup, but we were hard pressed to find any seafood in it. So again, although the dishes were certainly good, they were less captivating than the presentation.

More to come from Daxi Sichuan….
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 2

Instagram Post 10/28/2018

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More from the Nouveau Sichuan kitchen of Daxi, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall where creativity reigns supreme.

[1] From the unique and novel side of the kitchen, this is Crispy Mandarin Fish. I’m told that its addictive crunchy pillow is made from deep fried ground dried corn. The sweet fish with cashews (and, um, strawberries?) was delicious, the crumbly cushion a perfect foil for the tender meat. My only wish would be for there to have been a higher fish to crunch ratio.

[2] And from the classic side, Sautéed Kidney with Green Pepper (and red peppers too!) just the way it should be: tender and flavorful with a little kick.

More to come from Daxi Sichuan….
 
 

Daxi Sichuan – Part 1

Instagram Post 10/27/2018

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Nouveau Sichuan, if you’ll permit my neologism, seems to be the craze among Chinese restaurants these days. Classic Sichuan dishes appear beef cheek by pork jowl with fanciful presentations of innovative altered-state creations on menus that would make a coffee-table book pale into insignificance.

Daxi Sichuan, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave on the second floor of Flushing’s New World Mall, is one such exponent of the trend. On a recent visit, we ordered the much touted Tibetan-Style Pork Ribs; they arrived in a bamboo birdcage festooned with plastic flowers. I’m not entirely certain that I get the connection (maybe it’s a pun on rib cage?), but there they were on a plate at the bottom of the cage (where again?), pork squeezed into a sausage casing, sheathing a rib bone, and looking for all the world like a trompe-l’oeil hot dog but tasting like a proper pork rib albeit a little on the dry side.

In contrast, the second photo shows our order of adeptly prepared Stir Fried Eggplant and String Beans; definitely delicious and free from artifice.

I’m assuming the birdcage is unavailable for take-out or delivery.

More to come from Daxi Sichuan….
 
 

Tian Jin Meat Pie

Instagram Post 10/26/2018

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Upstairs at the downstairs Golden Mall.

Folks who are new to Flushing’s OG Golden Shopping Mall at 41-28 Main St often just head downstairs (the former digs of Xi’an Famous Foods) to prowl the labyrinthine basement and enjoy the wares of a handful of vendors including the everything-is-delicious-here Tian Jin Dumpling House. Sometimes, however, they neglect the street level merchants; here’s an example of what you’ll find there from Tian Jin Meat Pie, 天津餡餅.

Top right, a hefty bing (餅, Chinese wheat-flour pancake or pie) stuffed with delicious savory ground lamb; on the left, a chive, egg, and vermicelli somewhat thinner, floppier bing; and a folded scallion pancake for support. Unlike the fried scallion pancakes you typically find in a menu’s appetizer section, this doughy, steamed beauty is perfect for filling with whatever treats you find appropriate, perhaps from the bins there or elsewhere in Golden Mall. Or do as I do, buy some to warm up and experiment with at home.

[1] Chive, egg, and vermicelli bings at the ready.
[2] Lamb bings in front being upstaged by the yellow conical items on the left and to the rear: Chinese cornbread. Yes, it’s a thing.

[1] One of the aforementioned bins…
[2] …and another.
[3] Look for this sign just to the left of the Golden Shopping Mall entrance.
 
 

Szechuan House – Fried Shredded Beef with Celery and Chilies

Instagram Post 10/19/2018

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We had half an hour to spare and my friend @restaurantfairy exhorted @annegrrrll and me to meet her at Flushing’s Szechuan House, 133-47 Roosevelt Ave, for a bite before lunch (yes, we do that). She communicated her desire for the off-menu classic Sichuan dish, Fried Shredded Beef with Celery and Chilies; it was absolutely outstanding and we devoured our pre-game snack posthaste. I tracked down some recipes for Gàn Biān Niú Ròu Sī (干煸牛肉丝), literally dry fried beef threads, and I’m looking forward to doing a little home cookin’ when I get the chance, but in the meantime, I know where to get more!
 
 

Pigs’ Ears and Processed Noodles

Instagram Post 10/4/2018

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Two yummy dishes from a quick trip to the food court downstairs in New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens.

[1] Pigs’ Ears from Sichuan Cuisine, Stall #9. You’re thinking, “Me? Eat pigs’ ears? In a pig’s eye!” But you’ve heard about them now so see what you think! Plenty of scallions and sesame seeds for contrast.

[2] Old Luo Yang Processed Noodle from Old Luoyang, Stall #4. The combination of slippery noodles, absorbent chewy chunks of gluten, and crispy bean sprouts in a sauce that’s spicy and a little sour is one of my favorites.