New Yorkers are obsessing over hot pot this month—funny how a single-digit cold snap will do that—and Lau's found a hound-worthy place to get it in Flushing. Mapo Szechuan (a.k.a. Baidu in Chinese) satisfies the craving with six or seven choices of broth and uncommonly good stuff to cook in it.
Angus beef, short rib, and seafood and vegetable platters are notably fresher than at rival shabu places, Lau observes. Among the broths, Kurtis likes the duck soup and one of the two spicy options. He'd also pass on the larger platters (his seafood combo included some questionable oysters) in favor of smaller orders of individual items. (Mapo Szechuan, as its name suggests, also has a separate Sichuan menu, which hounds have yet to explore.) The two-level space, more upscale and modern than your average Flushing joint, includes a self-serve station with a rice cooker and more than 15 ingredients for DIY seasoning. Aspiring sauce-ologist Lau recommends his own blend of minced garlic, cilantro, sesame and chile oils, and house-made soy sauce.
Mapo Szechuan [Flushing]
37-04 Prince Street (between 37th and 38th avenues), Flushing, Queens