I am embarassed to admit it, but I had never been to the Flushing Mall Food Court until Sunday. Since I haven't lived in NYC for more than three weeks at a time in the last two years, a trip out there just never happened for me.
I went out to Queens on Sunday to check out the Hong Kong Dragon Boat Races, which was a disappointing bust. Well, I'm sure it was fun if you were in one of the races. Besides the many tents set up for the teams, however, there was barely a festival to speak of. The only booths were from banks giving away promotional junk. There was a Mr. Softee truck and a bakery booth with some wan looking items. The only food line was for... corn on the cob (and not on a stick, I might add). Very disappointing.
So I trekked back to the 7 train and made it to the Flushing Mall. After surveying the offerings several times, I finally settled on the Chengdu booth in the far right corner. What I really wanted was a nice bowl of ma la noodles in soup. From the cryptic descriptions, I wasn't sure I'd find them.
My first order (#6 on the menu) misfired. It turned out to be cold noodles in peanut sauce, with crushed peanuts, sprouts and cucumber ($3.25). Despite the cashier's promise, these were NOT spicy. They were delicious, but not what I wanted, so I had them packaged and ordered #27 -- wontons in hot oil ($2.75). Not noodles, but definitely "ma," the cashier assured me.
These were AMAZING. It had been so long since I had eaten fresh wontons. Filled with pork and chive, these golf-ball size dumplings were loosely formed and served in a smallish bowl of devlishily red oil (and maybe some broth) with a heaping of minced raw garlic tossed on top.
The dumplings were so fresh, they almost had a xiao long bao effect of gushing their broth in to the liquid. The garlic gave the dumplings an awesome kick (though I had to chomp through two pieces of gum afterwards to get rid of the flavor). And I got my "ma" fix.
I also found out after I ordered that probably what I wanted was #5 on the menu (Hot and Sour Noodles). I saw someone order a giant bowl of dark red broth heaped with scallions and cilantro -- next time!!!
Also, I was ecstatic to find a street vendor serving spicy lamb + lamb fat kebabs, Xinjiang style on 38th Ave off of Main Street. There is another guy on 39th Ave too. I talked to the vendor on 38th and lo and behold -- he actually is from Urumqi.
I may be late to the Flushing game, but I am psyched to find a place in NYC to fulfill my my cravings. If you (and you alone) are craving Sichuan ma la food in NYC, these offerings very well could satisfy your craving too.