I finally overcame my boroughphobia and planned a full on outer borough eating day for my wife's birthday last week. Everywhere we ate was planned from a loose idea in my head based on numerous reccomendations I've read over the years here so thanks to everyone for helping to make the day extra special.
First up was breakfast at the Taiwanese favorite Captain King in Elmhurst. The only thing throwing us off was the place isn't called Captain King any longer. The awnings and menus had changed over to Sunny King. I thought we had surely stumbled into some evil doppelganger as the place was totally empty and I had expected to be packed in between families of recently immigrated Taiwanese families and groups of hip teenagers with soy milk mustaches. Alas it was just my wife and I with one waitress who acted puzzled and rolled her eyes after every dish we ordered. Explanations were few and far between and they were out of the bread rolls and sesame cakes are weekends only so choices were limited.
We started with a cold and sweet soymilk which was much more grainy than the refrigerated stuff I'm used to. It was very sweet and filling and almost slowed down my appetite...almost. First came the fried buns with chives & eggs. It was actually one fried bun about the size and shape of a Hostess fruit pie(oh how I miss my processed food eating days). Crisp on the outside and filled with light and fluffy eggs, bits of beancurd, and lots of chives. It was a great start. Next a Scallion Pancake Rolled with beef was much sweeter than I imagined. It was a perfect scallion pancake filled with the kind of Shanghai cold aromatic dry beef and a smidgen of a sweet smokey sauce, akin to Hoisin. This ended up being my personal favorite. The steamed meat buns were indistinguishable from Shanghai soup dumplings only these were a bit heavier than I was used to. We also got a pancake with egg that was nice but not very memorable. Although our stomachs were crying for mercy at this point I had to gild the lily a bit and order a noodle dish which I thought was a Taiwanese specialty. I threw a dart at the menu's full page of noodle dishes and came up with Dai Rou Mein. It ended up being a thin, noodle type affair with strong sesame aromas and the noodles were nicely intermingled with shredded pork. It was a hearty dish, a meal in and of itself. Not special enough to be a speed bump in our eating Grand Prix I had it wrapped up for lunch the next day(an Iron Frank first!)
A short subway ride brought us to Flushing, the Asian food Mecca we had waited too long to make a pilgrimage to. We wandered around wide-eyed and stomach's bulging hoping to find a Dance Dance Revolution machine to work off the dumplings. The arcade in the Flushing Mall is still under construction so shopping was our only calorie burner. The shops were all kind of sparse and the place was totally empty. The only place calling out to us was the food court and it was the best mall food I've ever come across. Mexican, Taiwanese, Ramen, Sushi ,Shabu Shabu, Dim Sum, it was all there appearing to be of higher quality than would be expected given the surroundings. A bit confusing to order though as multiple menus/concessions are all ordered through the same cashier with little English exchanged. We got a sesame pancake with some spicy beef that was almost exactly like the beef from Sunny King but the wrapper was a multi-layered pancake studded with golden sesame seeds. I assume this is the sesame bread cake that Sunny King serves on weekends? Several bowls of porridge looking stuff(not congee) with large glutinous balls of starch and black bits in it called to us but the cashier refused to give it to us. It could have been drain cleaner for all I know and she might have been saving our lives but it sure looked unstoppably edible. A bowl of sweet tofu with ginger sauce was covered with boiled peanuts and was a bit of a letdown. It seemed more like a comfort food that we hadn't grown up with so we put it down and marched on for bubble tea at Sago Tea Cafe. The Taro tea was lacking in flavor and sweetness, my barley green drink was more likable but I'm sure there are better cafes out there(is the one upstairs in the new marketplace off of the mall any good?). After time-absorbing shopping we wandered a stretch of bakeries on Roosevelt Ave in Flushing and settled on a Taro bun and some sort of purple, coconut covered marshmallow at Fay Da. Both were tasty though the marshmallow was a melted mess by the time we ate it on the subway.
At this point it was down to Brooklyn on a long subway ride in the rain for my wife's first trip to DiFara's.
Our appetites restricted us to one slice of artichoke, one of anchovie, and a sicilian slice. It was an off hour and I don't think the round pie slices were in top form but still were enough to blow the needle off my wife's pizza meter. The anchovie was incredible with more fillets than a Neapolitan would use on an entire pie filling up that slice. The fresh from the oven Sicilian was erupting with cheese and was charred to perfection. As with all slice places the fresher from the oven the better and the unadorned Sicilian slice was definitely my favorite.
The day didn't end there but I'll continue it on the Manhattan boards where our trip ended up.