Flushing NYC

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Beneath a bridge in Queens in a mall plaza sits Grimaldi’s pizza, home of one of the more delectable pizzas in New York. Famed for its coal fired brick oven style pizza, the Grimaldi pizza has that slightly burnt yet intriguing taste in the crust. A little history from Grimaldi’s…

In the world of pizza, Grimaldi’s is an institution. Grimaldi’s history of coal-fired brick oven pizza cooking can be traced to the first pizzeria in America back in 1905. Coal-fired brick oven cooking gives pizza a unique smokey flavor and a crisp crust that is just not possible with gas, convection, or wood ovens.

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The pizza was pretty good

Grimaldi's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I love street meat.
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It was a blistery night in January. The wind howled, testing our Florida skin against the New York icy cold winter. A few of my brothers and I were out and about in the city this evening, and were headed back to the Flushing Sheraton for some much needed rest. Outside on the corner, protected from the winter wind by blue tarps on all sides, stood a stall of street meats perfuming the air with its freshly grilled lamb, chicken, and beef kebabs over coal.

Inside the cart, a elderly couple worked the place: the husband at the grill, twirling the meats by their bamboo sticks, and the wife at the front end collecting the orders and cash.

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Overall, it was a pretty good deal. About a dollar for a stick of meat, fatty and juicy, freshly cooked and spiced with cumin. A lovely way to warm our tummies after a long cold night.

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White Bear Dumplings – Flushing Queens NYC

On a recent trip to New York, I dropped by this small hole in the wall (New Yorkers love hole in the walls by the way), for some yummy dumplings.

White Bear sits in the heart of downtown Flushing right off of the Main Street sidestreets. Inside the interior is very much like Prosperity Dumpling, in which there is basically just a counter and two tables. The atmosphere is not what you would call their selling point, but rather its all in the dumplings.

ITs a quick to go place for some cheap eats on a cold winter day. They have a heaping of freshly steamed dumplings and doused in spicy soy sauces, fried onions and scallions.

behold the white bear dumplings.

Check it out if you’re ever in Flushing, I know I will again 😀

White Bear on Urbanspoon

On my latest trip to New York, I was privileged to try a few of the delicious bakeries in the Flushing area….

Koryodang Bakery – Flushing Queens New York City

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This is my first time in a Korean bakery, at Koryodang Bakery in Flushing off of 39th Avenue on Union Street just a few blocks away from the Main Street Metro station. I thought it was pretty classy inside and their baked goodies looked marvelous, but I also recognized a few buns that are popular in Chinese bakeries. Coincidence? Methinksnot. The decor is very classy, maybe too classy for a bakery.

My grandlil Thierry of the University of South Florida thoroughly enjoyed it though, especially his fruit danish.


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A look inside Koryodang Bakery, a franchise from South Korea

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Danishes! one of my favorites of types of pastries of all time!

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Thierry enjoys his danish from Koryodang Bakery

Koryodang on Urbanspoon

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Tai Pan Bakery – Flushing, Queens, New York City

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A little bit north of the Downtown Flushing Main Street metro station is a favorite bakery of mine: Tai Pan Bakery. When stepping inside, your senses are immediately overwhelmed and intoxicated by the sweet aroma and flavors of the pastries and cakes. I love it.

Sweet, sweet glorious buns…

I order a few buns from Tai Pan Bakery with Eric including the pork filling bun, a coconut cream bun, and an egg custard tart as well as some soy milk to wash it all down with. They also have a unique almond egg custard that is colored white and has a sliver of almond in the middle. The perfect breakfast for me. The prices are relatively cheap, with most of the items ranging around $1.00 more or less.


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A look inside Tai Pan Bakery

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Tai Pan’s home made delicious sweet soy milk

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Flushing Tai Pan Bakery’s Almond egg custard

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Another one bites the dust at Tai Pan Bakery

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Tai Pan Bakery’s Creamy coconut bun

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Tai Pan Bakery’s Traditional Egg custard

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Tai Pan Bakery’s Pateso?

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Indeed it is!

4.5 out of 5 Tasty Chomps!!!

Tai Pan Bakery on Urbanspoon

Spicy and Tasty
Szechuan Cuisine
Flushing, Queens, New York

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I first heard about Spicy and Tasty from one of my brothers, Victor Yin. It was lunch time during our conference and a few of the places in the area were already full with customers. Luckily Spicy and Tasty was open and could take in our party of 18 (we split into three tables of 6).

Spicy and Tasty is renown for their Szechuan style of food, noted for its spicy and tasty textures and flavors through the liberal use of Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, and chili. The Szechuan peppercorns have a slight lemony taste and create a tingly numb feeling in the mouth unlike traditional black pepper. I am actually not a fan of this taste usually, however with the dishes we ordered here, the balance of spice and taste was perfect.

First we ordered some chinese vegetables such as the chinese spinach with beef and another chinese greens dish. Both were quite tasty, but our favorite was the Sam Ding Gai / San be ji or Three cup Chicken, a traditional Taiwanese dish, cooked in a earthen clay pot with thai basil and peppers and marinated with a cup of rice wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil (the three cups). It is said a restaurant that can not cook this dish well, would not be a good restaurant at all. The dish was indeed very good and reminded me of my grandma’s home cooked chicken dishes that she once made for me as a child.


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Sambeiji, Three Cups Chicken!

After lunch, we went back to the conference where we enjoyed some dumplings and I also noticed this cool jacket worn by Ernie Luk from the University of Florida.


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Dumplings from Flushing Mall

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dumplings at the conference yes

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Berserk

It was made by One Greek Store, a dependable, reliable, quality store that makes jackets, apparel, and gifts all for a very great price. The website has been recently renovated as well with more features, check it out at http://www.onegreekstore.com/ Shout out to my Big Dennis Ngin and brothers Tony Tran and Nick Leung for working hard on One Greek Store.

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Spicy & Tasty
(718) 359-1601
Flushing
39-07 Prince St
Queens, NY 11354

Spicy & Tasty on Urbanspoon

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After lunch, we decided to take a walk around Flushing to walk off our soup dumpling breakfast and headed east on 39th Avenue past Main Street. Here is where we encountered the Xinjiang meat cart, the merchant of magical meats based out of the Xinjiang region of China.

Xinjiang, north of bordering Tibet, is the province where the recent Uyghur unrest occurred where ethnic strife between the minority Uyghurs and the majority Han Chinese sparked days of rioting. Thankfully the only rioting that will be going on here in Flushing is the riot my tummy will make for some skewered meat. The great thing about these skewers is that its only $1.00 for lamb or chicken or beef grilled on a stick peppered with spices and dusted with cumin. Ah yes, meat on a stick – a perennial favorite street food.

The man behind the stall is quite friendly and jovial, dishing out his meat with agility and speed to the consumers waiting nearby. He asks us, “Spicy?” which we reply, “yes” of course.

I enjoyed the lamb and chicken skewers as they were fresh off the grill, juicy, fatty, and packed a spicy punch. Definitely eat these with something to drink to cool off the spicy-ness.

Note that these stalls do not open for business till around 10AM or so, and before 10AM, there are donut/breakfast carts set up around Flushing instead.


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The happy meat man from Xinjiang

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Lamb shish kabob, peppered with cumin and spices

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Lamb shish kabob, peppered with cumin and spices

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Chicken Shish Kabob

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Chicken Shish kabob

Xinjiang BBQ Cart on Urbanspoon

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao – Flushing, Queens NYC
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The line outside Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, or Nan Shiang Xiao Long Bao as it is sometimes spelled, is renown for its Xiao Long Bao or Little Dragon Buns aka the notorious soup dumplings. As I write this to you this day, my mouth is already salivating from the thought of the steaming soup filled dumplings, bundles of tasty rapture.

My first encounter with soup dumplings was at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown in Manhattan NYC and it was there that my obsession for these steamed juicy buns of pork or pork and crab began. Just looking at the pictures of my last trip to Joe’s Shanghai would trigger a almost Pavlovian response to salivate and imagine tasting the soup dumplings again. Soup inside your dumpling, not dumplings inside your soup. Whoa.

It was around 11 am and my brothers and I were hungry. There was about a 15 minute wait to get into Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao located diagonally across from the Flushing Sheraton on Prince Street. We were lucky to get in under a relatively short amount of time because when I looked outside, there was an even longer line forming to get into the tiny restaurant store which held probably no more than 30 diners at a time.

When we got to our table we immediately began our order for 2 crab and pork soup dumplings and 1 pork soup dumplings. I could see from my seat the Chinese ladies by the steamers making the buns and cooking them to a near perfect freshness.

I ordered a tofu pudding dish (tofu fa) drizzled with honey syrup, a great start for breakfast. The tofu was light and sweet as I slurped it up with my spoon.

We also ordered a round of sweet soy milk, regular pork dumplings, and these scallion pancakes rolled with beef. They were all great but the stars of the show were the soup dumplings.

The soup dumplings were the first to arrive, still steaming in their steam bamboo dishes on a bed of cabbage. We pick the dumplings up, taking care not to burst the skin. Novices / N00bs at eating soup dumplings would put them in their mouth right away to bite them; only to wince in pain as they release the hot steaming soup inside and burn their tongues.

The way that I eat them is by placing them onto my soup spoon first, puncturing the skin with my chopstick, releasing the soup onto the spoon, and allowing you to blow on the dumpling to cool before devouring the dumpling morsels. I don’t know who invented these things but they are one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. Thank you soup dumpling maker, where ever you are.

The atmosphere of Nan Xiang is strictly no frills, almost Chinese-speaking only. We actually had some troubles with our first waitress because she couldn’t understand our order a few times, which was a bit exasperating. Luckily there were other waitresses who could help us out. Whew.

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
38-12 Prince Street, Flushing NY 11354 (map)
718-321-3838


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Tofu pudding, sweet and tender loving

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My lil brother Johnny Nguyen from the University of South Florida, enjoying his soy milk

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A tower of soup dumplings to enjoy

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The yellow center top means its a crab and pork soup dumpling

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juicy soup dumplings ready to eat

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Pork Soup Dumplings

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Scallion pancakes with beef

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Scallion pancakes with beef

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pork dumplings

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nom nom nom

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao Soup Dumpling House on Urbanspoon

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Corner 28 located just north of the LIRR Railroad track on Main Street has a special for 2 pieces of roast “peking” style duck for $1.00. When we first arrived, the lady there told us the sifu (master) of the peking duck roast has yet to arrive so come back later after 10AM. So we walked around and came back and there she was slicing the duck with the skills of a shaolin kung fu master, what deft knife skills. I wouldn’t want to get into a street fight with this old lady.

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They are fans of Michael Jackson here in Flushing Queens!

The duck came wrapped in a tortilla like bread roll that was soft and fresh. Topped with some chinese barbeque sauce, the crispy duck bread rolls were delicious, and for $1.00 it was a really good deal!


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The front of the Corner 28 restaurant

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The deal: 2 pieces of duck for $1.00! the duck leg with bone for $2.50 yum

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Assorted goodies for ducks!

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The master at her chopping board with the roast duck

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chop chop chop…

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a few of our new friends, pledging to keep flushing clean!!

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sure buddy!

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Duck duck duck


overall it was a good, tasty street food chomp! i would definitely recommend it as a quick snack on the run!

Corner 28 on Urbanspoon
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I saw this poster of the new Blood! Last Vampire Hunter movie adapted from the Japanese anime hanging on a few stall windows, starring Jun Ji-hyun from My Sassy Girl.

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The Flushing Mall is a two story indoor “mall”, which sadly to say is going the way most underperforming malls in America are: down under. Many of the stores here are closed and the ones that are open sell random dollar store stuff or are just plain random. The mall itself is kind of decrepit and probably has seen better days. Nevertheless there is one section of the mall that continues to see business: the Food Court.

The Food Court of the Flushing Mall is a long area where there are food vendors dishing out various Chinese specialties. At this time in the morning – a little bit before 10 am – there were still a few stores not open yet. We try our luck with the Shaved Ice lady and ask her if we can have a special combo icee. After a few tries at translation, I hand her the money with about 10 cents in pennies. She pushes the pennies back to me, “No, I don’t want, no one wants this!” A little bit annoyed, I look around for a dime for this ridiculous cashier lady. -_-

When we got the shaved ice, it came in a huge bowl topped with mung beans, red beans, condensed milk, syrup and more goodie sweets and jellies. Overall I enjoyed the shaved ice but wish there were more fruits!


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A few doors down is a stall with another Chinese lady who was more cordial and friendly. We ordered a pretty large dumpling for about 80 cents. I paid her with a bill.

It was overall a great steamed pork bun and juicy to the bite. I wish I had more!


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The lady with the nice buns!

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What a nice bun!

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The pork filling inside the bun! Delicious and juicy!

Overall. Buns were fun, shaved ice was not the best experience due to the long argument with the cashier lady.

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Eric and I walk another block on our journey through Flushing, Queens. I’ve been here before, year after year, but never knowing what places were good and so in our own fear of disappointment, we would always try the same things again and again. This time would be different. This time, we had it all planned out.

Downtown Flushing is a bustling crossroads of sorts, even in the early morning time, buses, cars, people all out and about moving from here to there, to markets and to breakfast, to work. The experience takes your breath away for a moment before you too have to move through the crowds and find your next destination.

Ours was the AA Plaza beneath the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) tracks on Main Street. This takeout stall is a long glass case with their grills right along the glass window showcasing their foods. Greasy, nasty, cheap, delicious food: the definition and embodiment of street food.

They sell turnip pudding cakes, oiled-up scallion cakes, steamed pork buns (4 for $1.25), fried chicken wings, lo mein noodles, and more to go. We decide to get some of the curry fish balls (1$). It is all dirt cheap and tasty to boot.

The curry fish balls are plump and tender, spongy and dripping in its sauce, tasting a bit spicy yet also fresh. I always love any meat served on a stick.

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The AA Plaza beneath the LIRR in Flushing, New York

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The window stalls at AA Plaza

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Lo Mein noodles ready to eat!

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Curry Fish Balls waiting to be bought and eaten, marinating in the curry sauce

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Precious plump balls of fish

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Delicious!

Beware of having to go flushing after wards tho…

Rating
4 out of 5 Tasty Chomps!!!!

AA Plaza on Urbanspoon

Flushing Adventure – New York City

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The conference began early Saturday morning in Flushing, Queens borough of New York City. Since I am an alumni and didn’t need to go to some of the workshops, I decided to take a gastronomical tour of eats in downtown Flushing near the metro station. I mostly used a guide from chowhound.com as well as this map from the New York Times of Eats in Flushing and the NYTimes article “Finding Beijing in Flushing”

My brother, Eric Ho, and I rode the Q65 from Jamaica Hills to Flushing which took about 20 minutes and stopped right off of Main Street. The first place we went to was the “Golden Mall” which contained in its basement a smorgasbord of Chinese street food style vendors.

First, we stopped by Xian Foods, a small stall in the center of the Golden Mall basement. Xian Foods was actually featured in the NY times article and even visited by Anthony Bourdain before. The city of Xi’an, located in Central China and one of the oldest cities of China, was home to the imperial tomb of the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang and his famed terra cotta warriors.

Eric and I decide to split a spicy lamb burger ($2.50). The lady at the counter takes out a piece of frozen lamb meat from the freezer pre-prepared and sets it onto the sizzling pan on the stove in the back of the stall. I was hoping it would be fresh rather than frozen but you can’t expect much when ordering from a basement stall. There were also a few other stalls there in the basement of the Golden Mall, but I did not know what to get as the signage was all in Chinese and I also didn’t want to have to go “flushing” after wards (if you get what I mean).

The lamb burger was wedged between two slices of bread roll, and had a spicy gamey taste to it made with cumin and pepper. Ah, the perfect way to start a morning in Flushing. Overall I would give this lamb burger a 4 out of 5 tasty chomps….


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“The Golden Mall” – not really golden nor a mall

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What does it say? Who knows? I just want to eat!

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Xian Foods stall, in case you are ever in the Golden Mall basement

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A photo gallery of Xian Food’s offerings, with english subtitles thank god

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yummy frozen lamb

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the Lamb burger is complete!

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Xian Famous Foods on Urbanspoon


Next Stop:

The Sun Mary Bakery is located right off of Main Street on 41st st. We get a few bakery items such as egg custard, pineapple bun, and the taro ball. I liked the egg custard the best because of its flaky, pastry crust, something that many egg custard places neglect to perfect. Overall, this is a 4 out of 5 tasty chomps!!


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Taro Ball

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Pineapple bun!

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Delicious Egg Custard!

Sun Mary Bakery on Urbanspoon

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