Think Manhattan’s Chinatown is overwhelming? That’s like an empty suburban shopping mall compared to the Chinatown out in Flushing, the last stop on the 7 train.
Here’s the real deal. No tourists, no trendy basement speakeasies, no American Apparel. Just lots of people, dumplings and incredible cheap eats.
You may also be wondering what the hell EFAC stands for. That’s the Ethnic Food Adventure Club I started with some friends. The first EFAC (pronounced eefack) took us to Brighton Beach for Korean-Uzbek fusion, you can read all about that here. Each month we’re venturing to a new ethnic neighborhood to try the most beloved restaurants as well as stock up on staples from the local grocery store.
So where is Flushing Chinatown? It’s far, but only about 30 minutes from Grand Central by train. There’s lots of parking if you’ve got wheels. Take the 7 train to Flushing Main St. and you’ll be spit out right in the thick of it.
Should you make the journey out to flushing, you should absolutely visit these spots:
41-10 Main St, Queens, NY 11355
This new-ish spot is owned by the X’ian Famous Foods people. If you don’t know what X’ian famous foods means then you are seriously disturbed and I suggest you visit one of their locations immediately. They are famous for hand pulled noodles in delicious spicy spicy sauces. I’m partial to their cold cucumber salad. Did you know there’s a X’ian outpost in the weird industrial part of Greenpoint? That’s right…just blocks away from the BQE overpass in an industrial wasteland is the X’ian warehouse. There’s a little store front that serves their full menu from noon-8pm every day. CASH ONLY and conveniently a 10 minute walk from my apartment. But back to Biang! The menu is larger than the noodle shops and it’s a proper restaurant; exposed brick and everything.
What to order at Biang!:
Spicy & Tingly Fish “Tofu” Skewers- Tofu that tastes like fish? WHAT? OH yes.
Fiddlehead Fern Salad- Incredible. I’ve only had fiddleheads grilled in fancy hipster steakhouses, but here the pretty ferns are roughly chopped and mixed with a spicy dressing. Divine.
Spicy Cucumber Salad – Order this, don’t ask questions.
Stewed Pork Burgers- I was unimpressed with the description on the menu. But HOLY S*** that stewed pork was good. Get one for each person at your table.
Liang Pi “Cold Skin” Noodles – If you get one thing, get this. Don’t be afraid of Seitan (not Satan), this is not your everyday Whole Foods crap Seitan.
Spicy Cumin Lamb Biang-Biang Noodles – What they are famous for. Definitely for lamb-lovers.
Tous Les Jours
39-02 Union St, Queens, NY 11354
New favorite bakery ever. Koreans do everything right. This bakery could easily pass as an excellent croissant shop in Paris. BUT there are added treats that break all the rules. YOU MUST get a sesame donut! TRUST ME. There’s also a location on 32nd St in midtown…
Golden Shopping Mall
New World Shopping Mall
4021 Main St, Queens, NY 11354
Located seconds from the subway, you could spend all day in here. There are weird little asian beauty and clothing boutiques, a giant fancy banquet-style dim sum restaurant on the top floor and a very impressive, multi-floor supermarket called J-Mart. Definitely visit J-Mart for good prices. Check out my complete guide for what to buy in an Asian supermarket here.
Anyone obsessed with Bioderma’s Crealine H20 Solution micellaire like I am? If you’re not you should be! It’s what all the French girls use! And this is the only place I’ve ever seen it in AMERICA! It takes make-up off in one swipe and has zero oil. I’m telling you, this product is like phoenix tears.
J MART (Inside New World Shopping Mall)
4021 Main St, Queens, NY 11354
SO! Now it’s time to stock up on groceries at J Mart to make the miso black cod below! Black cod is REALLY expensive at Western markets (like Whole Foods and Citarella) because of one man: Nobu Matsuhisa. His Miso Black Cod sent foodies into a frenzy in the early 2000s and we just want more more more! BUT at Chinese and Japanese grocery stores with large fish sections, black cod can be found for less than $10.00 a pound! For a complete list of what to buy at an Asian market, click here.
Miso Black Cod
You will need:
3/4 lb. fresh black cod (cut into two portions)
1/4 cup mirin
1/2 cup white miso paste
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons sake
1. Combine the mirin and sake together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils turn the flame down to a simmer and add the miso. Stir constantly with the back of a spoon to combine completely. Then turn the heat back up to high, add the sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from flame and cool to room temperature.
2. Combine the marinade with the cod in a tupperware container or plastic bag and let it marinate for at least 6 and up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat your broiler. Remove the fish from the marinade so it’s coated but not dripping. Place it on a broiler pan coated in foil (add a little non-stick spray or oil to prevent it from sticking). Broil close to the flame for about 5 minutes until patches start to burn. Then turn off the broiler and allow the fish to cook for another 10 minutes in the hot oven. It depends how your oven is set up. I have a broiler drawer so I remove the fish from the drawer, turn the boiler off and the oven temp to 400 and place the fish in the main oven.
Serve with wasabi mashed potatoes!