New Flushing Bakery

Instagram Post 6/2/2018

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Chinese Egg Custard Tarts (dan tat, 蛋挞) are ubiquitous in Chinatown, on display in just about every Chinese bakery case and riding on dim sum trolleys threading their way through restaurants at lunchtime. They found their way to China and Hong Kong decades ago by way of Portuguese pastéis de nata and English custard tarts and are available these days in a wide variety of styles: the basic (plain bright yellow surface), brûléed (Portuguese influence), egg white, coconut, green tea, even strawberry, almond, papaya, and the list goes on. Some time ago, there was a bakery on Mott Street that touted dozens of flavors; alas, they’ve since closed, but it appears that New Flushing Bakery has taken up their mantle.

Here’s a sample of their wares: clockwise from upper right, Strawberry Milk Custard, Lemon Egg Custard, Mango Egg Custard (with tapioca balls), and Purple Potato Custard.

Cutaway views reveal purple potato lurking within one and a strawberry layer at the bottom of another.

New Flushing Bakery is located at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens.

He Nan Cuisine

Instagram Post 6/1/2018

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Continuing with Henan and comfort food themes, here’s a dish from He Nan Cuisine aka He Nan Flavor, aka Henan Feng Wei, formerly connected to what is now Spicy Village on Forsyth St in Manhattan. Located in Flushing, Queens at 136-31 41st Ave, it’s easy to miss; you need to descend a few steps to access this old school super casual restaurant. No English was spoken but the menu provided adequate translations of their fare and I was fortunate that on this particular visit one of my dining pals spoke the language.

I’ve enjoyed Kou Wan previously at Elmhurst’s sadly missed Uncle Zhou. Here, there are eight variations from meat ball, ground meat, and chicken to this one, “crisp meat”, all available with or without noodles. It’s a simple, homespun dish consisting of meat that’s been floured, fried, and simmered in a sauce seasoned with star anise and a touch of black pepper. Despite its name, don’t expect a bowl of crisp meat; I suspect that these nuggets had indeed been crispy bits of pork prior to preparation but the end result is soft, succulent and delicious. With so many more promising dishes on the menu, I’m looking forward to a return visit.

Fuding Wok

Instagram Post 5/31/2018

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I had seen signs touting Fuding Meat at a number of venues in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Since I had never tried it, I was intent upon persuading my dining buddy who was already familiar with the stuff to share a bowl, so we ventured into Fuding Wok at 5216 Seventh Ave. The texture was not unlike a dumpling – not the kind of filled Chinese dumplings you’d find in this neighborhood, but rather more like the slippery, fluffy, slightly chewy pillows that float atop a dish of chicken and dumplings.
Curious about the ingredients, I tracked down a recipe translated (I’m using that word very generously) into English in a clandestine corner of the interwebs. Fuding meat, named for a county-level city in northeastern China, is composed of pork (cut from the hind leg), pork fat, potato starch plus either cassava starch, wheat starch, or corn starch and a touch of seasoning, emulsified, extruded, sliced, steamed and finally served up in soup. (Don’t try this at home, kids.)
At least eight condiments including my personal favorite, Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp, graced each table and provided a playground of flavor combinations to enhance our soup.
Here’s the aforementioned sign that provides the key to tracking down fuding meat at that location and apparently at other comparable outposts. Since I’m a sucker for comfort food, this handily filled the bill. Best enjoyed on a dreary, rainy day, but don’t let good weather stop you!

Old Tang – Part 2

Instagram Post 5/26/2018

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I just learned that the “noodle half” (the other half is a bakery) of Old Tang formerly at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens has closed. (See previous post.) 😢 We hope they return🤞but we will never forget the delicious dishes we enjoyed like this wonderful beef noodle soup.

Sing along with photo #2:
🎼 Should old acquaintance be forgot,
🎵 and never brought to mind?
🎵 We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
🎵 for Old Tang’s Sign! 🎶

Old Tang

Instagram Post 5/25/2018

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There’s about enough room for four people (three if they’ve already eaten) in the tiny but wonderful Old Tang at 135-45 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens. Each time I ventured in, there were new menu items to try; fortunately, it’s a short list so it will be relatively easy to accomplish my customary goal of tasting everything that’s available!
1) This is Dry Sauce Noodles as it appears when handed to you.
2) Like many dishes at Old Tang, it is assembled from perfectly prepared thick, chewy, translucent noodles plus a tiny bit of each of the seasonings ready to be portioned out by an expert hand. Lots of familiar additions, but it was the tahini-like sesame sauce that set it apart.
3) Not a pretty picture perhaps, but oh, so delicious! When all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, it’s practically impossible to tease out individual flavors, but in this case the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And their adjoining bakery has some pretty fine treats for a finishing touch; photos in a future post!

Diverse Dim Sum

Instagram Post 5/23/2018

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Whenever I take folks on an ethnojunket through Flushing’s astounding array of mind-boggling and tummy-filling food courts, I never fail to bring them to Diverse Dim Sum at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave, Booth 12. This New York Food Court mainstay has developed a well-deserved reputation for their excellent Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings), but don’t let that fact dissuade you from trying some of their other delights. Case in point are the Fried Seafood Rice Cakes. Crispy outside, meltingly soft inside, these treats are not to be overlooked; you may have seen something similar elsewhere, but Diverse Dim Sum’s rendition easily outstrips the competition because of the inclusion of just the right amount of tiny shrimp to enhance the flavor and bring it to snacking perfection. So simple, yet so powerful.

(Followed by the obligatory XLB shot!)

He Ji Noodle

Instagram Post 5/22/2018

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So many dishes looked tempting at He Ji Noodle House, stall #25 in the New York Food Court at 133-35 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, but when the prominently placed first item [Lamb Stewed Noodles] in the first section of the menu [Signature Stewed Noodles] looks so good, you just know ya gotta. (Not to mention the huge glowing sign grabbing your attention just daring you to taste anything else!)
With a soup base that was richer than I was anticipating, this bowl of delicious noodles (two kinds) with plenty of lamb, wood ears, greens and other tasty bits (bean curd skin, dried lily buds) was the ideal invitation to come back and try more!

Miss Li Henan Cuisine

Instagram Post 5/20/2018

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I’ve always been a fan of Henan Chinese cuisine. No, not Hunan, I love that too, but Henan food is harder to come by in our fair city and since the disappearance of Elmhurst’s Uncle Zhou, the pickings have grown even slimmer.
Miss Li Henan Cuisine at 133-49 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, Queens, has a number of dishes I need to try, but this visit would be a quick one, a stop on one of our eat-our-way-through-Flushing jaunts, so we only had time (and belly real estate) for one dish – case in point: Handmade Cold Noodles (gan mianpi). 🍜 Dotted with bean sprouts, slivers of cucumber and a few other touches, the spicy, saucy, chewy wheat flour noodles hit the spot on a dreary, rainy day.

Shanghai King

Instagram Post 5/17/2018

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Elmhurst, Queens has a mini mini food court (like three stalls or so) at 86-22 Broadway. We went to Shanghai King (first stall as you enter) and chose the Dry Pot with Sliced Fish from among a field of six and Shanghai Pork Soup Dumplings. The dry pot was tasty but could have used a lot more spice 辣 (remember to stir up the yummy juices from the bottom of the wok – that helps a bit) and since they’re pretty new, we didn’t see a DIY condiment assortment.
The dumplings weren’t bad – very thick skins, even for soup dumplings, but a solid mouthful, especially considering there were no spoons to be found! More to try….

Express Tea Shop

Instagram Post 5/15/2018

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Jianbing (煎餅), literally fried pancake, is one of the more popular street foods in China and I’m pleased to report that it’s caught on in New York City, even outside of our five or so Chinatowns. Half the fun is watching your jianbing being made: a wooden crepe spreader is used to swirl the thin batter around a large, circular griddle; after a few seconds of cooking, an egg is added along with scallions, cilantro and various sweet and savory sauces plus other fillings, some vegetarian, some not. One important addition is the crisp cracker (baocui) placed atop the other ingredients just before flipping and folding into layers – think crisp fried wonton skins and you’ll get the idea. (Some versions use soft Chinese crullers (youtiao) but I greatly prefer the crispy texture contrast.)
As with dumplings, the quality varies widely from purveyor to purveyor. Shown here in its authentic wax paper bag is Express Tea Shop’s version (41-28 Main St, Flushing, booth #26 in Golden Mall with a direct entrance on 41st Road) which in my opinion is one of the very best.