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.
 
 

Doufu Hua

Instagram Post 10/1/2018

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If you fancy finding flowers in Flushing, you might flee to the florist where florae flourish at 135-26 Roosevelt Ave. But once there, you’d also serendipitously encounter a different sort of flower, doufu hua (豆腐花) – “tofu flower”. Soy Bean Chen Flower Shop is famous for their warm, fresh doufu hua or bean curd pudding. Slippery slabs of the Chinese snack were ladled up with a sweet ginger syrup on the side although a savory sauce is available as well. It’s so light and it goes down so easily that one of our food tour party who had claimed only moments before, “I couldn’t eat another bite,” ravenously polished it off!
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Chengdu Dragon Handwriting

Instagram Post 9/26/2018

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These light dumplings came from recently opened Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park. The combination of a little knowledge and more research leads me to think that menu item “Chengdu Dragon Reading Hands” (成都龙抄手) might be better translated as “Chengdu Dragon Handwriting” but that’s still not much help in determining their contents or the derivation of their fanciful name. Can anyone enlighten me?
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Fish Flavored Eggplant

Instagram Post 9/25/2018

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Fish Flavored Eggplant. Don’t be misled by the phrase “fish-flavored” – it neither contains nor tastes like fish; rather this delicious Sichuan yuxiang (魚香) sauce refers to a combination of ingredients, a little sweet and sour, a little spicy and salty, often used in preparing fish. New kid on the block in Sunset Park, Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave, Brooklyn, did a nice job with this one.

Stay tuned; more to come….
 
 

Snowy and Icy Mooncakes

Instagram Post 9/24/2018

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Today’s the day! In addition to the traditional mooncakes that abound in almost every Chinatown bakery for Mid-Autumn Festival, you might see these trendy versions that hail from Hong Kong. Think mooncake meets mochi: rather than dough-based and baked, the skins are almost like the sweet Japanese glutinous rice cake, but not quite as chewy. These snowy and icy mooncakes must be kept chilled. Here are four of the many delicious varieties.

The snowy flavors are contemporary: strawberry, mango, orange, pineapple, honeydew, peach, peanut, taro, chestnut, green tea and red bean; one version featured durian flavored sweet bean paste with bits of the fruit, enveloped by a skin of almost almond paste texture and flavor. Icy mooncakes come two to a box with imaginative flavors like pandan bean paste with chocolate pearls (tiny crispy, candy bits, crunchy like malted milk balls, but probably puffed rice), dark chocolate bean paste (the skin is like mochi with chocolatey paste on the inside and a piece of dark chocolate or a bit of cream cheese nestled within), durian, mango, blueberry, custard, chestnut, black sesame, strawberry, and cherry.

To learn more about the holiday and these delicious treats, please check out my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified post.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! 中秋节快乐!
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Mixed Fungus

Instagram Post 9/23/2018

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Classic Sichuan cuisine, this Mixed Fungus (巧拌木耳) from newcomer Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park is elegant in its simplicity. The wood ear fungus is lightly touched with a tangy soy/vinegar/sugar dressing and accented with red and green chili peppers, garlic, and a bit of red onion.

Stay tuned; more to come from Chuan Tian Xia….
 
 

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival – 2018

Instagram Post 9/21/2018

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A visit to any Chinatown bakery this time of year will reveal a spectacular assemblage of mooncakes (月餅, yue bing) in a seemingly infinite variety of shapes, sizes, ornamentation, and fillings, all begging to be enjoyed in observance of the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated this year on September 24th. Here are two pandan mooncakes, one with preserved egg yolk and a mini version without, from Fay Da Bakery at 83 Mott Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown.

To learn more about the holiday and these delicious treats, please check out my Chinese Mooncakes Demystified post detailing their similarities and differences in an attempt to shed some light (moonlight, of course) on their intricacies.
中秋节快乐!
 
 

Chuan Tian Xia – Pork with Garlic Sauce

Instagram Post 9/20/2018

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Sichuan restaurants are rare in Brooklyn’s Chinatown and Chuan Tian Xia at 5502 7th Ave is the newest in Sunset Park. First in a series, here’s an attractive presentation of Pork with Garlic Sauce; cucumber slabs provided the foundation for this creative bit of architecture.