first of all, big ups to Colin the Pathetic, and Anne the Harmony of the West for handling the quest across Flushing for the best in dumplings, buns, noodles and whatever else they happen to sell in Flushing's three food malls (Golden Mall at 41-28 Main Street, J&L Mall at 41-82 Main Street: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/339644, and Flushing Mall near College Point Blvd).
I just got back from a food trawl which started at 1:45pm at the Golden Mall. Having navigated MTA's suspect train schedule on the weekend, we finally met in Flushing and headed immediately to the "Fantastic Lamb Noodle Soup" (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/350358), Straight to the back, I was planning to order the lamb fried dumplings that come 18 to an order, but they ran out, so we just got a bowl of small noodles each, and their summer special, cold noodles in sauce. We also had an order of the pork and cabbage fried dumplings from Shandong Dumplings as well. the noodles, which I've had, were continually fantastic; great portions of meat, wonderful noodles, great broth. the cold-style noodle was also a wide noodle, cold, doused with bean sprouts, tofu, a bunch of spice and basically, a hot and sour cold noodle salad, with a lot of liquid. delicious, and perfect for the heat. the room, btw, had no a/c, except for some fans. painful.
the guo-tie from Shandong was great, the filling was a bit crumbly, but there was a nice crust on the bottom and it almost seemed as if the bottom of the dumpling was thicker than the top, better to fry the bottom and steam the top I suppose, there was also the signature lacy cobweb of cornstarch binding them in pairs and triplets. great dumplings.
we then picked up a meat "patty" which is the closest to what it could be described as, like a jamaican beef patty but with a pan fried crust instead of flaky and baked, and with seasoned chunky ground beef inside. delicious at $1.25, and from the same place that has the lamb ro bing, but today, they had no lamb filling, so I didn't want the bing (I was secretly preparing for the muslim place's small bing at J&L). We went downstairs and checked out some of the offerings (there was a large garlic pork sausage that one vendor was selling, looked like giant kielbasa, and also crowds of people ordering a similar henan-style wide noodle served both hot and cold, not lamb huei-mian dish, but the chili version doused w/ bean sprouts and chili and vinegar.
off to a good start, we picked up some cold soy milk and drinks as we contemplated the next step. we were full enough that we walked all the way to the botanical gardens and back, before heading into J&L Mall, where we had Sichuan food. There was no mapo tofu, as the proprietor said it was too hot for it, so we just had: ma la beef (chinese roast beef drenched and marinated in ma la peppercorn oil), pickled cabbage (hardly pickled, but more like extremely salted, and not good), cucumber salad (delicious cucumber pickeled and then dowsed in chili oil), and their hot and sour rice noodle soup (shuan-la-fun-tong) which was the one floating in hot oil, bean sprouts, noodles like japchae, with roast peanuts on top. I picked up two plain bings from the muslim place (2 for $1, and they recently renovated their food display a bit) and it was the perfect starch to the strong and thrilling flavors of the sichuan food. our bill there was $14 which was great. I was really tempted to get the egg-jian-bing (discussed here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/385253) but the whole time we were eating there, no one ordered it, and so we didn't brave it this time. The piles of fried sheets were there, and a tray of raw eggs so I figured it must be the same thing, but it still looked too heavy). The muslim was also selling a similar thing which is basically like shao-bing-you-tiao but instead of a tiao, it was actually a big sheet of fried dough about 10" square, doused briefly with egg, I think, and then rolled tightly inside a split shao-bing, basically, an enormous starch fest for $2. I saw one customer gripping the thing in his hand, the other hand handling a bowl of soup and dipping this monster into the broth; it was crazy.
at some point, we also had lamb kebabs at a $1 each (across from North Fork Bank, absolutely delicious and cooked almost rare, with a deep cumin dusting, and big chunks of lamb fat rivaling the deliciousness of those from the uzbek places in rego park), fried dumplings and mini shen-jian-bao (both 4 for $1) from the original fried dumpling place across from Starbucks, and ate those on the steps of the library, and also had a few iced coffees, iced teas, iced yin-yang (milk tea + coffee), some peking duck sandwiches from corner 28, before heading to the Flushing Mall for some boiled dumplings on the second floor of the back part of the mall. I'm not sure how to describe the location, but the dumplings are from a chinese/korean stall which served their delicious boiled dumplings (pork with chive, 18 for $6.50) with a wonderful cabbage kimchi, and korean chili powder dipping sauce. this is the place that also serves naengmyun, and has signage in both korean and chinese. excellent dumplings, great texture of the skin, which tasted porous but at the same time held in the filling, juicy as any soup dumpling I've ever had. we headed down to the main part of the Flushing Mall and checked out the shave ice and the Taiwanese Temple Eats, but ultimately had nothing, since we were totally full. The second floor store which sells Malaysian snacks and drinks was really interesting (if you come in the main entrance of the mall, its the first store on the right, if you go immediately up the right staircase when you come in from the entrance across from Ocean Jewels). They had some great southeast asian packaged goods.
on our way back out to Main Street, I contemplated a "taiwanese hamburger" from Lu's Seafood to go but that was negated, and even the idea of a turnip bing or salty soy milk or even taiwanese oyster pancake from King 5 Noodle was vetoed; we were done, by a vote of 2 to 1, but I don't even know if I could've sustained any additional square inchage inside my stomach. I recalled that White Bear on the short part of Prince Street specialized in something, but we didn't go in. We also stopped at A&N (Kam Sen) and picked up all sorts of sundries (kecap manis, lee kum kee chili garlic, black vinegar, and also those delicious banana flavored cubed mochi, the pink and white ones).
we walked nostalgically down 41st Ave (at least I think it was) which was the original "restaurant row" in flushing, which now is bookended by two new buildings; squeezed in that tiny row was shiao-du-huei (family-style chinese), curry leaves (a fine malaysian restaurant with great breakfast takeout options), and many other places jam-packed in, but it seemed that the area for culinary eats has expanded way beyond this little block. many of the restaurants which used to be there have turned over (go-bu-li, szechuan capital, even the all-you-can-eat sichuan hotpot place). now, it just seems like a crowded, haphazard block.
looking back, or typing back I should say, we didn't really eat that much, or at least, I can think of so many other foods that we could've tried but I guess that's round 2. we stayed focused, we stayed alive, and we had a great time.