New York City

Friday July 17 2009
St Johns House – Flushing, Queens – 10:30 AM
I wake up and realize that it literally feels like sweaty balls in the room, looking around at my friends and remembering that most houses in New York have no central cooling, only central heating for air conditioning. It’s okay as I am used to the feeling of sweaty balls in Florida.

Today I will embark on a grand gastronomical journey into the inner intestine of Manhattan. I am dropped off at Main Street and Roosevelt in Flushing by my brother Victor Yin of Stonybrook University (who joins the crew at East Palace for dim sum). There on the corner I meet up with brother Andrew Kayserian of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute, who is of Armenian descent and lives a few blocks away on Northern Boulevard. On our trip a few years ago, Andrew was the one who opened his basement for us to live in for a few days, all 8 of us on a fold up futon, and a place where I will forever remember his mother’s home made sausages. A graduate of Stuyvesant High School, Andrew is familiar with Manhattan but himself has never had a lot of the items on the list today and decided to join me on this epic journey. Good food always calls for good company. Besides, it’s no fun to eat alone!

The Plan
After making a mega list and google map of the places that I wanted to try out, mostly of cheap eats, we decide to start in the Chinatown area after getting off the Chinatown Van ($2.50) from Flushing to Catherine Street in Chinatown. From there we will walk up Eldridge St, up Mott St, Across Houston St, Up 1st Ave, and then all around East village. Its a plan partially planned and partially left up to the fates and the capacity of our tummies.

Tips
Don’t wear sandals like I did because you will get blisters from all the walking. Maybe it is better to wear sneakers. Dress light as it is hot and humid (think sweaty balls) in New York during the summer. Also, bring lots of cash: all the cheap places take cash only, even some of the not so cheap places take cash only, so bring cash! Also it is a plus to have an I-phone and the yelp app to search and detect where you are along the journey. Make sure you go with a friend or two, preferably two but no more than 4 as it can get cumbersome with too many people. Remember you are on a mission.

First Stop:
Prosperity Dumplings
, 46 Eldridge St # 1
11:45AM

After taking the quick Chinatown van from Flushing, we hop off at Eldridge St and head north. Around us, Chinatown, after over 100 years of existence, is alive and kicking with fresh fruit markets and bakeries and all the fake chanel and louis vuitton bags hidden in back alleys you could ask for.

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If you walk too fast, you just might miss Prosperity Dumplings where you can find the delectable items listed on the “Best of Cheap Eats 2009” list by the New York magazine.

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There is not much to this store front operation: the decor is minimal and there are only 3 seats by the window and plastic utensils for wares. A hole within a hole in the wall, where sometimes the best foods in the world can be found.

For here they serve 5 pork filled dumplings for $1.00 ! What the heosauce?

We order one and it serves as an appetizer for the beginning of our trip.

The gentleman behind the counter quickly opens a wok and plops 5 out for us on a styrofoam plate.

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stupid bloggers

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the chef at work: whisk off a top and voila!

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The dumplings are fried and crispy on the bottom yet soft from the top. The skin is slightly chewy and tasty, the pork and chived fillings are savory and delectable. Not bad for $1.00, I would say even better than some dumplings I’ve had for five times that amount.

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Here as many places around Manhattan, I observe the reach of the California based spicy red sauce known as Sriracha aka the spicy Rooster sauce. This is the first of many times we will meet the Rooster along our trip. We add a dab to spice up our dumplings.

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Tasty Chomps rating!!!!
4 out of 5 Tasty chomps !!!!

Prosperity Dumpling on Urbanspoon

After our last bite of the dumplings, we get up and continue our journey up through Chinatown to get our next New York fix: the Vietnamese sub sandwich aka Banh Mi at Banh Mi Saigon on Mott St and Grand.

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New York City, the city that never sleeps, the city that keeps moving, a gritty city full of millionaires and beggars, of street meat vendors and world-class dining, a beautiful “movable feast”. This isn’t my first time in New York, but it would be the first time for me there on a mission: to enjoy and taste the tastes of New York within the days that I am in NYC for business.

During my first trip to New York in 2006, my senses were immediately overwhelmed upon entering the city: the lingering pungent smell of hundreds of years of American civilization, the cacophonous sounds of car horns and the clatter of the subway on the train tracks, the push of millions of people shuffling through the streets, all came together to sucker punch me in the eyes, ears, nose and skin. After the 9th trip in three years however, I got used to it all and began to move like crowds did: quickly, stubbornly, on a mission.

The only sense left was my taste: all these trips had been a rush, a quick jot into the city and out again after a day or two unable to fully enjoy its culinary offerings. After days pouring over advice on message boards like chowhound, yelp, and emails and messages left on this very blog, this was my chance to get a taste of New York.

Thursday July 16th 2009
9:00 PM – Flushing, Queens

Touchdown at the Laguardia Airport in Flushing, Queens NY. Flushing…what a name for a city huh? We hop on a taxi cab to meet my partner’s family off of Main Street. The taxi driver doesn’t know how to get to Main Street. But luckily, we arrive safe and sound at the hotel.

The city is hot and humid, maybe I brought a piece of Florida with me here.

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10:08PM – Prince Street, Flushing, Queens
A walk around the Best Western lands us in Canton Gourmet, a Cantonese style restaurant that luckily for us is open till midnight. Ah, the comforts and perks of living in a predominantly Chinese city in America: restaurants open late nights.

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Upon entering the restaurant, we observe the offerings displayed in large brightly colored poster board photos along the wall. The images are crispy and make you salivate.

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After a moment, the tables are ready for our party of 10. We begin with a traditional start to a Chinese meal: soup. We order the crab meat and fish maw soup ($10.95) which is a huge bowl enough for our whole group of 10 and divided into individual soup bowls by our friendly and often comedic waiters. Fish maw, if you haven’t had it before, has a foamy, springy texture with little taste.

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Crab meat and fish maw soup!

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Next to arrive is a plate of house style clam ($14.95), a heaping of clams and also fried garlic that they apparently love to use on every dish here at Canton Gourmet. Alot of garlic, not a lot of clam.

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Famous silver golden egg fried rice ($10.95) – my favorite fried rice, made with golden raisins a la biryani style and topped with goodie chinese toppings.

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Stir fried string beans ($10.95) – crispy and fresh string beans

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Pi Pa To fu ($7.95) stuffed with chinese sausage and turnip.

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Peking Porkchops ($8.95) – my favorite style, sweet and sour but so good

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Rack of Lamb ($17.95) – a rack of tender, slightly gamey lamb topped with that fried garlic stuff

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Crispy Squab ($14.95) – a dish with squab (aka pigeon) roasted.

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Garlic Crispy Chicken ($10.95) – Garlic Crispy chicken was my favorite dish out of all, made peking duck style with a extra crispy skin and succulent flavorful chicken topped with that fried garlic that they use on everything here.

There is something homey about the place, as if the dishes could have been cooked by my grandfather if he were still alive today.

Overall I enjoyed Canton Gourmet, and although it may not have been the greatest thing I ever had, it was pretty good, a little bit above the offerings we have in Orlando and definitely with a lot more authentic dishes.

Tasty Chomps rating!!!!
4 out of 5 Tasty chomps!!!!

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After dinner, we head back to the hotel and I say farewell to my partner who will join her family on a tour of Niagara Falls and upstate New York for the next few days.

Friday July 17 2009
1:08 am I am picked up by one of my brothers, Andy Meng of St Johns University. I will be graciously staying at the St John’s house during this trip with 20 or so other brothers from Florida headed up this weekend for the National Pi Delta Psi Fraternity Inc. Summer Meeting.

Andy picks me up and we quickly zoom off to the city to hit up Club Touch in Manhattan. A party was going on and Andy was a promoter. Following Andy, we literally skip the line and walk through the doors into the clubs like big shot callers. Whoa.

Hip hop dance music bumped as the bodies of young men and women rhythmically grinded in the darkly lit night club.

At the club, I enjoyed a delectable corona and lime as well as a few generous shots of jaegerbombs. At the end of our night we rode away back to the house and I crashed on the third floor.

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Good night Times Square, NYC

Canton Gourmet on Urbanspoon

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