Ever since the NYTimes published the article on where to eat in Flushing, I’ve been meaning to make a trip out there to try out the Chinese food. You see, I can’t really read Chinese so I usually end up relying on my parents to order for me (it’s always been like that). Now that I don’t live with my parents, I have to rely on what I grew up with on my summer trips to Taiwan and China and just hope for the best. Pointing at things other people have ordered also helps.
So, on Sunday, six of my friends took 7 train ALLLL the way to Flushing to meet up with me to start the food tour. I was so excited that I texted Justin at 9am. Here’s the conversation:
Grace: Justin! I’m so excited about the Flushing food tour! Aren’t you excited, too?!
Justin: Yay! I’m excited too but I’m going to sleep more.
Oops! I guess I shouldn’t have messaged him so early
Anyway, our plan was to try a bunch of places on the NYTimes list, some places Justin’s visited before, and random places we found interesting. We all put in $20 into a main fund (Justin’s pocket) and he was in charge of paying for things and keeping track of the money. I figured $20 would be more than enough and we’d just re-distribute the money after lunch.
First stop: White Bear
The sign is kind of small, but it’s the White Bear Dumpling Shop and it was one of the restaurants written about in the NYTimes. We only had 5 people at this point, but the place is really tiny and the shopowners didn’t seem too happy to see so many people crowd her restaurant. Initially, we were going to get the dumplings to go because there were so many of us, but we decided to sit in a little corner and share seats:
Julie and I know enough Chinese to order dumplings, so we put in two orders of wonton dumplings with hot sauce:
The dumpling filling was pork and veggies and the hot sauce was surprisingly not hot at all (although there were also pickled vegetables that were pretty tasty). Justin liked the sauce and pickled vegetables so much that he ate them straight from the container:
Total Spent:$9 for two orders of wonton dumplings with hot sauce
Our next stop was going to be a soup dumpling place, but we had 7 people and it just wasn’t going to happen. Plus, Julie and Justin said that Joe Shanghai in Manhattan was better than the place we were going to visit in Flushing. We ended up at Best North Dumpling Shop, which is located around the corner from White Bear.
Second stop: Best North Dumpling Shop
We thought White Bear was small, but Best North Dumpling Shop is actually a woman’s kitchen with a couple of bar seats and two tables that seat two (or four if you really squeeze). While Julie and I were deciding what to order, Joe, Justin, and Blake goofed around the rest of the shop, which included a cell phone retailer, a seamstress, a sushi shop, and an herbal medicine shop:
We ended up going with pork and fennel dumplings, shrimp and leek dumplings, and cabbage, celery, and pork dumplings. They all looked like this:
The dumplings are handmade by the woman that owns the dumpling shop – she told us that she wanted to open a cart in Manhattan to sell the dumplings but her English wasn’t good enough to start the venture. All of the dumpling skins were really chewy and well cooked (she only has one stove so if a lot of people go into the shop, you’ll have to wait quite a while to get your order in). Julie, Justin, and I liked the pork and fennel dumplings the most, Paul, Blake, and Joe like the leek and shrimp dumplings the most (even though Joe is allergic to shrimp), and Steph’s favorite were the cabbage, celery, and pork dumplings.
The owner of the shop was really nice and even posed for this picture:
I don’t know if I’d go back to White Bear, but I’d definitely revisit Best North Dumpling Shop.
Total Spent:$9.75 for 30 dumplings
Third stop: Flushing Mall (various stalls)
Our third (and final) stop on our food tour was the Flushing Mall. Initially, I planned to visit another food court, but I could tell that everyone was getting full. Julie, Justin, and I decided to split up the money and order at a bunch of different places while everyone else saved us seats. Justin and Julie have been to the Flushing mall before and knew where the good stalls were and I just wanted soymilk, so it just seemed logical.
Julie ended up ordering from Hand-Drawn Noodles:
There is actually a restaurant that specializes in beef noodle soup, but this restaurant is supposed to hand pull their own noodles, which was a big selling point for us. She brought back two orders of beef noodle soup with hand pulled noodles:
The noodles were kind of thin (I thought they were going to be fatter for some reason), but the soup was really delicious (lots of star anise, cilantro, and beef!).
Justin ended up going to two stalls – one place for the best dumplings in hot sauce:
And one place for cold noodles in peanut sauce (one of my favorite dishes from my mom’s kitchen):
The dumplings from the unknown stall were the best I had all day – TONS of garlic (who was I trying to impress?), lots of hot sauce, and a delicate dumpling skin wrapping a nice piece of fatty pork inside. The cold noodles were o-k, but I think my mom makes them better. I’ll have to get the recipe and post it (if she wants to share her secrets!)
Finally, I went here for soymilk:
While I was standing on the wrong end of the counter, I saw a woman make some kind of dish with yo-tiao (fried dough that you dip in sweet or salty soy milk), pork flakes (ro-song), and pickled vegetables all wrapped with white rice (what a magical treat!) Obviously I had to order it because it looked so good. I also noticed these breads (bings):
During my summers in Taiwan, my dad would sometimes take us to get soymilk, yo-tiaos, or those pieces of bread before heading into his office for the day. Sometimes, you can get the bread filled with all types of different meats – at this stall, they filled it with scallions, hoisin sauce, and beef:
Here’s my total order:
The soymilk was actually not that big of a hit (after ordering it, I kind of wished I could’ve gotten do-hua instead), but the yo-tiao and the flaky bread with hoison sauce and beef were both a huge hit. I forgot to take a picture of the rice log (with the magical surprise inside), but that was a favorite as well.
Almost everyone at the table before we demolished all of the food:
After we ate all of that food, I suggested we move onto another food court, but was shot down by everyone as they were loosening their belts. Instead, we decided to go for dessert – shaved ice!
The shop sells all kinds of fruit drinks, shaved ice, and ice creams. Enough to make you go crazy because you want to try all of them but don’t have enough room in your stomach to fit it all in! Actually, I remember when we landed in Taiwan in 2006, my mom and I dropped off our luggage and were promptly driven to the night market (Shilin) where we filled up on all kinds of goodies, including lots of shaved ice. My dad also used to take me to a place that had shaved milk that was sweetened with fresh fruit, ice cream, and condensed milk. This stall had a similar idea of shaved ice and condensed milk, but they didn’t have the shaved milk (I’m actually not sure it’s milk – it might be milk and condensed milk?) We ordered one fruit based dessert and one bean based dessert. All of the toppings are pretty amazing (lots of fruit sauces, beans, and other things that are not good for you):
We went with one traditional shaved ice (with lots of beans):
It sounds weird, but all of the beans are cooked in sugar so everything is sweet, not salty. There’s also a syrup that goes between the ice and the beans in case you need more sweetness. Joe, Julie, and I really liked the dessert (maybe because we grew up on it), but everyone else was kind of ‘meh’ about it. On the other hand, the fruit dessert was a huge hit:
It might’ve been the mango ice cream…or the fresh mangoes…or the condensed milk over all of that goodness, but the shaved ice was was pretty much finished in a matter of seconds. It was pretty impressive, especially since we ate a ton of food right before starting dessert.
After the Flushing mall, we walked to Ten Ren for some bubble tea and then headed back to Manhattan on the 7 train. I was in a food coma by the time I got back to my apartment, but I was also super happy that I finally made it out to Flushing to try some of their awesome foods. In total, we spent $70. For a ton of food. Isn’t that amazing?! I’m going to organize another tour in May, so hopefully the people that couldn’t make it to this tour will be able to go on the next tour!