It's New York's emerging "power corridor" for northern Chinese food, suggests scoopG—the neighborhood centered along Main Street and Kissena Boulevard just south of downtown Flushing. The newest arrival, joining hound favorites like M&T and Golden Palace, is Jiang Li, whose menu ranges across several northern regional cuisines.
The high point of scoop's recent meal here was a hearty, soupy casserole of pork and lightly pickled cabbage, enriched by a topping of crab. "Absolutely wonderful," scoop sighs. Jellyfish head was another standout, marked by contrasting soft and crunchy textures and seasoned with sesame oil and black vinegar. Other winners were salt and pepper frog, cumin lamb ribs, pork skin aspic with garlic sauces, and butterfish (mistranslated as tuna) with salty, sweet, slightly sour "special sauce." If you read Chinese, be sure to check out the specials listed on the wall. That's where scoop's party scored succulent, delicious Shandong pork belly, served with choi sum.
Things change fast around here, and Jiang Li is a good example. Its owner used to run Hong Yi Shun on Main Street, which has been succeeded by a new restaurant called Rural, specializing in rich, rustic Dongbei chow from China's northeast. scoop and friends recently frolicked in "waves of deliciousness" highlighted by cumin flounder, hot and spicy frog, home-style beef tendon, and long-pickled sour cabbage with vermicelli.
Ask the staff about off-menu specials, which might include garlic tips with scrambled eggs or crispy/spicy Fifth Watch intestines. Rural lays out a budget banquet; "you can pig out like we did for $17 per person," scoop reports, "and that included a very healthy tip."
If your appetite is running less toward sit-down feast and more toward grab-and-go snacks, check out the street-level outposts of the mostly subterranean Golden Mall. Sharing a small storefront on the 41st Road side are two vendors, Home Noodle and Halal Food. scoopG sampled a Fuzhou-style peanut-topped bun at Home Noodle and pronounces it "very tasty."
Jiang Li [Flushing]
44-18 Kissena Boulevard (near Blossom Avenue), Flushing, Queens
42-85 Main Street (near Blossom Avenue), Flushing, Queens
Home Noodle [Flushing]
41-28 Main Street (entrance on 41st Road), Flushing, Queens