Instagram Post 6/29/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

In Elmhurst’s new HK Food Court at 82-02 45th Ave, the Chinese characters on Stall 15’s marquee translate to “Hang”. More to the point, on the left it reads “Taipei”, on the right, “snacks”, and therefore likely a potential stop on my Elmhurst food tour, but taste testing always comes first. (Well, right after the photos, I guess.) Taiwanese style popcorn chicken and its marine mate, squid, are hallmarks of the cuisine around these parts; crispy yet juicy and traditionally topped with a bit of fried basil, they’re easy to track down and everyone has their favorites.

Shown here, serviceable fried [1] Salt & Pepper Chicken and [2] Salt & Pepper Squid; the chicken was marginally better, the squid more attractive by the same degree. A few more decisions to make before the Elmhurst ethnojunket goes live – but we’re close!

Legend Chicken

Instagram Post 2/25/2019

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Seems like I always discover tremendous treats in the teeniest mini-malls when I visit Flushing; Legend Chicken, tucked away in stall number 2 (of only 4!) at 135-15 40th Road in Queens, is a notable case in point. They obviously take pride in offering cage-free, hormone-free, halal-certified poultry, but the fact that all their Taiwanese street food is truly delicious and cooked to order is what won me over. Three examples:

[1] Leg Cutlet prevailed over Legend Pops and Legend Chicken in the “which one should we get” deliberation. Tasty – and there’s always a Next Time to try the others.

[2] Blood Rice Cakes. Don’t be shy, you might like ’em. You won’t know until you try.

[3] Hashbrowns. Your comfort zone reward for trying the blood rice cakes 😉.

There are additional chicken variations on the surprisingly extensive menu along with specialties like Taiwanese sausages, taro and turnip cakes, Venetian tofu and a few items I had to ask about: amid avian accessories like gizzards, necks and hearts, spades made the cut. Nope, not card suits. Turns out those are tails, aka the Pope’s nose, aka the part that goes over the fence last. The real deal.

Tian Jin Meat Pie

Instagram Post 10/26/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

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.

Taiwanese Pineapple Shortbread

Instagram Post 9/7/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Taiwan has a long-standing association with pineapples. In the early twentieth century, it was the world’s third largest exporter and because of the fruit’s surfeit, its supplementary role in baked goods became popular. Still a significant part of the economy, there’s even an annual Taipei Pineapple Cake Cultural Festival.

I recently learned that these little gems are available in Manhattan’s Chinatown at Audrey Bakery, 12 Chatham Square. The three characters along the left side of the package read “pineapple shortbread” and it’s delicate and delectable. There are packaged versions of similar fruit filled shortbread cookies easily found in just about every Chinatown market, but these treasures are a world apart.

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 4

Instagram Post 9/1/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

A few more dishes from our group dinner at Q Town Asian Cuisine, 82-87 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. In no special order:

[1] Three Cup Chicken. A Taiwanese classic, theoretically made using one cup of soy sauce, one cup of sesame oil, and one cup of rice wine, but usually tweaked a bit and fleshed out with additional ingredients including garlic, ginger, sugar and red chili. They did a good job with this one.
[2] Sizzling Black Pepper Short Ribs with onions and bell peppers.
[3] Striped Bass swimming in Spicy Black Bean Sauce dodging slabs of tofu. Very fresh and truly delicious.

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 3

Instagram Post 8/23/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

A few more dishes from our group dinner at Q Town Asian Cuisine, 82-87 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. In no special order:

[1] Clams with Basil. Tasty and flavorful. The basil flavor comes mostly from the basil leaves in the dish, not the sauce itself, but that’s fine.
[2] Sautéed Squash – the loofah variety. It’s a gentle dish with a pleasant crunch, a change of pace for the palate; as such, it succeeded.
[3] Kidney and Liver in Sesame Oil. If you’re an offal aficionado and a liver lover (like me), this one is for you. Perfectly cooked, tender meat with welcome slices of ginger to kick it up; they did a good job here.

More to come from Q Town Asian Cuisine.

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 2

Instagram Post 8/18/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

A few more dishes from our group dinner at Q Town Asian Cuisine, 82-87 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. In no special order:

[1] Crispy Fried Shrimp. They did a great job with this one. Tempted to try their crispy fried oyster or cuttlefish next time.
[2] Cuttlefish and Squid with Yellow Chives. I understand that this dish is subtle, but even with that, it was lacking in flavor. Fresh ingredients though.
[3] Homemade Tofu Pot – Pork and Oyster. Delicious, but I wish there had been a little more pork or oysters in evidence. In fairness, that observation may be attributable to the fact that we were a convivial group of 14 and it’s truly difficult to portion out dishes like this one equitably, but their flavors made their presence felt. Or tasted, perhaps!

Lots more to come from Q Town Asian Cuisine.

Q Town Asian Cuisine – Part 1

Instagram Post 8/17/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

There’s another new kid on the block in Elmhurst, Queens: Q Town Asian Cuisine at 82-87 Broadway. They specialize in Taiwanese cuisine, but their extensive menu (some 300 options) tiptoes into mainland cuisines as well. At the outset, I should report that we were a party of 14 with somewhat divergent tastes so our ordering attempted to cater to a cross section of palates. A few dishes we tried, in no special order…

[1] Beef Tripe with Hot Pepper Sauce. I know this dish as fuqi feipian (aka husband and wife lung pieces, although there’s really no lung in it). This Sichuan dish consists of spicy beef tripe with one other cut, usually tendon, but this seemed more like beef shin to me. Q Town Asian Cuisine did an excellent version of it.
[2] Oyster Pancake. A classic Taiwanese appetizer.
[3] Fly Heads. Another example of Taiwanese home cooking, this dish calls for garlic chives, bits of pork, and fermented black beans (the ingredient that looks like flies’ heads). On the downside, this version would have benefited from a slightly heavier hand with the pork; on the upside, for all the many times I’ve enjoyed this dish, I’ve never had a version that was quite this spicy. I don’t know about its authenticity, but I certainly liked that aspect of it.

Lots more to come from Q Town Asian Cuisine.

Yu Tea

Instagram Post 8/17/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)
For all the times I’ve visited their neighbor, Pata Market, I had never made it into Yu Tea at 81-18 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens until now. Without hesitation, I went directly to the Cheese Fruit Tea Smoothie section of the menu and selected Cheesy Doubleberry (strawberry and blueberry). The three layers you see here are meant to be well stirred, but of course I had to sample each individually: the bottom was sweet and a little syrupy, the middle represented what the final mixture would taste like without the final fillip from the top layer which is where the salty, cream cheesy magic happens. If you’ve ever had cheesecake flavor ice cream, imagine a strawberry/blueberry combo of those; now liquefy it, thin it out, sprinkle in a bit of salt, and mix well. This popular admixture of cheesy-salty-fruity-juicy can be found in malls around your favorite Chinatowns, and yes, it totally works!

Fan Fried Rice Bar

Instagram Post 7/6/2018

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

A relative newcomer (about three months) to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and certainly a welcome one is Fan Fried Rice Bar at 525 DeKalb Ave. A cozy, sunny spot with only a few tables, they offer a number of Taiwanese delicacies like Popcorn Chicken, Fried Bone-In Pork Chop, Taiwanese Sausage, and Mushroom Mapo Tofu, but the real focus is on their novel fried rice variations.

[1] Numb Numb Pastrami Fried Rice with chili paste, scallions, pastrami, onions and peanuts. I get a pronounced Szechuan málà peppercorn hit delivered with a lot of char (as opposed to wok hei); the pastrami itself is salty, moist, and a little smoky, but unlike the deli style pastrami you might expect from the name. Definitely good eats.

[2] Breakfast Fried Rice is good any time of day with tasty thick cut bacon, eggs, peas and carrots, and everything-bagel seasoning. No numbing peppercorns in this one, but plenty of salt, intensified by the toss of potato chips atop.

And yes, I’m a fan of the Fan. 😉