While modest in scope, I led a group of 10 (including myself) on a fun food crawl through Flushing on Saturday. It would have been a total mess if not for the invaluable posts from fellow Hounds regarding various Flushing establishments. Here are my thoughts:
Started at 11:15 a.m. at New Lok Kee (36-50 Main Street). We shared four dishes: clams with black bean sauce, Fried duck with chopped almonds, ginger scallion lo-mein, and scallops with mayonnaise, crispy walnuts and broccoli. The scallops were the big hit, the lo mein was bright and bracing (unlike any other lo mein I'd ever tasted), the clams were good, and the duck brought up the rear.
Gave everyone instructions to go into the Food Court (36-58 Main Street), and go to the back to smell the tofu. We did - initially, it smelled like manure (no offense), but then it sort of grew on you. We didn't eat anything, though some of the stalls looked good.
Next, to Sweet n Tart (136-11 38th Ave). It was absolutely jam-packed at about 12:30 in the afternoon, though that didn't really affect us. I was just going for the taro pudfding, which had been recommended by many Hounds. They only had mango pudding, so I got a bunch for all to taste. Everyone loved it.
From there, we walked over to Prince Street as we ate our puddings. We briefly checked out the menus at Pho, Green Papaya, and Laifood, but opted to head to Spicy and Tasty (39-07 Prince St). There we ordered five dishes: Tea-smoked duck, shredded bean curd with celery, cold noodles with red chili sauce, twice cooked pork, and dry sauteed green beans. The duck was the big hit, though all of the dishes were very good and unusual. Many said it was the best duck they'd ever eaten. As for the noodles, some in the group didn't like the tingling numbness from the red chili sauce, though I enjoyed it. It was funny how it made the tap water seem like seltzer.
From there, we backtracked half a block to the Relax Tea House (SE corner of 39th and Prince) to let our stomachs take a breather. We ordered 7 different drinks: Green Tea Smoothie (the best of the bunch - sweet, but not overly so; tasted like a green tea ice cream milkshake), Almond Milk Tapioca Tea (nice, but tasted a bit too much like imitation almond extract, and a little too sweet), Lychee Black Tea (with nice slivers of lychee floating in it), Green barley juice (like a nice tall glass of lawn juice, but WAY too sweet), Hong Kong style Coffee with milk (which its purchaser enjoyed), Mung Bean Shake (kind of like a sweet soy milk smoothie with more beaniness), and a cocktail of OJ, Passion Fruit, Lemon, Honey, and Guava Juice, which was clearly the most sophisticated of the bunch. We killed some time, drank slowly, chatted, then moved on.
Next, we hit Mai Xiang Tan (40-09 Prince St) for some octopus balls. The best part was watching the twenty-something counterman deftly use what looked like a fondue fork to turn octopus chunks encased in splashes of batter into perfect little golden brown balls. He topped them with a loose wasabi paste, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. It was almost sweet tasting, and the creamy mayo, salty bonito, and sharp wasabi rounded it out nicely. Beware, those who don't like fishy-fish: it is very fishy-tasting, which some of us loved, and others weren't crazy about. (If you were raised on whitefish salad and lox, like I was, the fishiness was like a taste of home. Yum!)
From there, we went to Fay Da Bakery (135-16 Roosevelt) for our second dessert - we were beginning to feel like hobbits. We snagged some tables, and split the following: Fruit Tart, Strawberry Mousse, Red Bean Bun, Pecan Cheesecake, Green Tea Red Bean Terrine, and an Egg Tart. All were well received, and much better than the coffee mousse I'd had there a few weeks ago.
Third dessert: we went from Fay Da straight to Parisien (?) Bakery, which seemed like a Japanese/Korean place (39-02 Union). Based on a previous Chow post, I got one tsubushi-an-pan (pureed sweet azuki bean pastry) and a kuri-manju (chestnut pastry). Each of us had a sliver. Both were good, but my wife seemed to like the Red Bean bun at Fay Da better than the azuki bean one here. She said the fillings tasted basically the same, but Fay Da's bun was better.
We headed south on Union, rounded the corner, and stopped at Lucia's (136-55B Roosevelt) for a slice of pizza, a break from the Asian flavors we'd inundated ourselves with. It was good, not great, but almost seemed like a waste of valuable, and rapidly diminishing, stomach space.
We then headed to the Mayflower Plaza Food Court (40-48 Main St). I was eyeing the plate of 6 pieces of eel sushi for $5, but my stomach flat out denied me. Everyone in the group enjoyed the noodle-making demonstration by the noodle guy directly across from the sushi counter. Good stuff.
We were winding down, with no room left for food, but took a walk down Main Street to Kam Sen Food Products (41-79 Main), and enormous Asian grocery store, where I was delighted to find Haw Flakes, thin round pepperoni-sized slices of dried apricot puree. Just like I remembered from when I was a kid.
All in all, a fun day. Some good food, and definitely a good time. Thanks again to all the Hounds whose posts made it possible.