The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Flushing Like I've Never Flushed Before

This post originally took place on March 8. Kathryn wrote a great summary on Chowhound if you want the quick version of our day. And you might, because this entry is looong. I've taken some notes from Kathryn, who is considerably better at remember what the hell is in stuff than I am.

Also, in case I haven't mentioned it before, I have a manatee blog. I've gotten many tips about the floppy manatee from Cute Overload, so yes, keep the manatee goodness coming (although you should probably check my manatee blog first). :)

You know you've had a good day when you semi-unintentionally embark on a three and a half-hour gorging tour of Flushing.

I say "semi" because the original plan did entail hoofing it to Flushing (about a 90-minute subway ride from my apartment in Bed-Stuy) to meet at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao before moving on to a series of yet-to-be-determined destinations that required open maws, digestive fortitude, and ignorance of one's stomach being on the cusp of explosion.

Nan Shian Dumpling House
If I were taller you could probably see the name of the restaurant.

But then plan changed when Nan Xiang was too crowded to easily accommodate our group of six—Kathy, Kathryn, Joe, Greg, Diana, and me. Our raging dumpling cravings directed us around the corner to a soup dumpling-less dumpling-erie that was mostly devoid of humans.

Dumpling Heaven


Dumpling Heaven! Apparently also known as Dumpling King. But their official name seems to be Best North Dumpling House in case that makes things any less confusing. Nope.

Best North Dumpling Shop menu chinese menu

The dumpling stall displays their menu in English and Chinese...unless the Chinese menu is completely different, not that any of us would know because we can't read Chinese. American-Born-Chinese fail, ha...ha.

We settled on two kinds of boiled dumplings ($3.25 each for 10 pieces) to pace ourselves for the afternoon of gorging that was to come.

tray pork and fennel innards
Pork and fennel.

The pork and fennel dumplings were one of my favorite dishes of the day: juicy, tender, porky, and with a slight herbaceous fennel scent. The filling wasn't too salty (I find that sometimes with pork dumplings—not that that stops me from eating them) and the thin skins were soft with a bit of chew. If you've never had pork and fennel before, EAT IT! I should've stopped here before leaving Flushing to bring some frozen dumplings back home.

the aquatic one aquatic innards
The aquatic one.

The leek and aquatic food dumplings (hey, that's what it says on the menu) were similarly juicy, tender, not offensively seasoned and had the same nice skins, but they tasted more like pork than aquatic.

White Bear

Ice cream!
They have no ice cream.

We continued our dumpling feast at White Bear, a tiny shop that, despite the awning's declaration, doesn't offer ice cream. Or yogurt.

It's actually a travel agent
Curiouser and curiouser...

A closer look reveals an even more outdated awning for a travel and realty office.

White Bear
Another sign.

This sign might say something about dumplings. Or it might say "candy factory." So many possibilities. Don't be put off by the shabbiness—there be dumplings inside, waiting for you.

It's food! Thank god.

Step inside and their menu reveals a rather wide selection of wontons, noodles, dumplings, rice dishes, and more, with no dish over $5.95. I'd kill for a place like this near my office. Sigh.

wontons with chili oil innards

We shared one order of the wontons with hot sauce ($4.50), easily the most beautiful dish of the day. A dozen delicate pork-stuffed wontons neatly packed in a take-away tray, topped with chopped scallion, bits of pickled ginger, chili pepper goo, and lots and lots of fluorescent orange hot oil. Despite the generous oil dousing, the dumplings weren't actually that spicy. I mean, not "burn your mouth off and give you the runs" spicy. But they were really good...for reasons...I cannot explain. And by that, I mean I forgot. All I know is that in the heat of the moment, they were freakin' awesome.

Greg is eating Joe's arm?
From Greg's blurry face bursts force Joe's arm.

Look at the eaters go! I'm surprised no one suffered from a chopstick stabbing.

scoop up all the little bits WON TON, MEET UR DOOM
Greg, the nom-uhnator.

Greg made the grand finish by scooping up the gingery-peppery detritus into his spoon alojng with the final wonton and shoveling the whole thing into his mouth.

Xian Famous Foods

Xi'an Famous Foods
And the hawks swoop in.

Xian Famous Foods may look like just another crowded unkempt stall in the steamy basement (but the most awesome steam borne forth from A GAZILLION FOOD STALLS) of Golden Shopping Mall, but it's not. They have their own website, if that's any indication. It has also been graced by Anthony Bourdain's presence. And for good reason: It's mega delicious.

Liang Pi Cold Noodles
Noodles...delicious noodles.

You have to get the noodle dish liang pi ("cold skin"), the stall's most popular item. I can't describe it better than Joe so I'm just going to rip off his description from Serious Eats:

Liang pi doesn't contain any flesh, though. It's a cold salad of squidgy wheat gluten chunks and wheat starch noodles mixed with cilantro, bean sprouts, a touch of chili oil and some Chinkiang vinegar. And it's one of the best things I've eaten in a long time.

It's one of the best things I've eaten as well. Every mouthful has a bit of squidgy, chewy, spicy, crunchy, and herby. If I ate it every day I'd probably get sick of it, but since I only get to eat it on infrequent Flushing excursions, it retains indefatigable awesomeness. AND IT'S ONLY $3.50.

lamb and cumin burger
I cam smell the cumin from here.

The stall is also known for their lamb and cumin "burgers." It's too cumin-y for my taste, but still very good because tender, juicy lamb chunks tucked inside crispy and chewy pita-like bread can't be bad. I prefer the spice-less pork burger, which is like a Chinese pulled pork sandwich.

lamb face salad?
A salad of chopped face.

I don't think the lamb face salad is on the menu, but it exists. If you so desire. Face of lamb. Chopped up. In a salad. It has all that refreshingly spicy and raw vegetable action found in the liang pi, but instead of noodles there' face. I got a chunk of something crunchy and cartilaginous. Greg picked up a nugget of something that could've been the lamb's nose, but it was hard to tell. Every bite a surprise that you may or may not want. Definitely a unique dish, if I may describe it in a way that doesn't endorse or vilify it.

Flushing Mall

it's so asian!
Welcome to ASIA!

The Flushing Mall is probably unlike any other mall you've been to, unless you're Asian. (Something about the bright color palette feels Asian to me. I'm not sure how to explain that, but having been to many department stores in Taiwan and Japan, I'll pretend it's some kind of subconscious reaction.) And what do we love most about Asian shopping malls? Food courts! It ain't stocked with your typical Chinese take-out or Subway-type eateries; it's stuff you'd go out of your way to eat.

plate o breads
Plate of carbs...ok.

It was not my idea to stock up with a plate of carbs—more specifically (according to the receipt), a sesame seed big pancake, Chinese pancake, fried cruller, and beef patty pancake. It was mostly Kathy and Kathryn's idea, for the purpose of doing this:

dip in the hot soybean milk

...wrapping the greasy cruller in the Chinese pancake and dipping the carb-wrapped-carb in a bowl of hot, unsweetened soy milk for a bite of moist, bready goodness dripping with soy squeezings.

Kathy goes nom
Kathy is unstoppable. Diana thinks, "Huh."

I think Kathy enjoyed it more than the rest of us. Not that it was bad—it just didn't hold as much importance to us (also, I was pretty full and fluffy chunks of bread = gutbomb). I did eat crullers dipped in soy milk sparingly when I was little, only when my family would make the special outing to a Chinese restaurant on Route 17 in New Jersey (now a Starbucks, sigh).

beef stuffed in this bread thing

My favorite item of the carb plate was the beef patty pancake, thinly sliced beef seasoned with a sweet soy sauce-like sauce, sandwiched in a thin, slightly chewy pancake with scallions. Yet another thing I wish with all my might would escape the confines of Flushing, preferably to somewhere within walking distance of my office.

red bean and green tea ice cream
Ice cream!

Diana unintentionally got two large cups of ice cream when all she wanted was the green tea. The red bean became the errant cup after the cashier interpreted "red bean topping" as "red bean ice cream." Oops. But none of us would refuse bowls of creamy deliciousness.

mango shave ice

...Except it lay in the shadows of the towering mango shaved ice, a mountain of shaved ice (not the ethereally fluffy sort, but good enough) topped with mango chunks, a tennis ball-sized scoop of mango ice cream, mango syrup, and rivers of condensed milk. I can't imagine you can get a better combination at the shaved ice stall, although they have a gazillion different toppings of various colors and jelly-like substances and syrups and beans-in-syrups to please every palate, especially the ones that love jelly, beans, and syrup.

Nan Xiang

pork soup dumplings
Soup dumpling win!

And then we made it back to Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao to finally get a taste of their coveted soup dumplings. Although we were 250% stuffed by this point, we were determined to fit in just one more dumpling.

Gather round..

The six of us probably looked ridiculous huddled around a too-small table hungrily eying one meager order of pork soup dumplings. But if only the rest of the restaurant had known what substances had already traveled down our gullets that day...if only they knew.

Hello, pork!

This was probably the biggest, soupiest soup dumpling I had ever eaten—more pouch-like than dumpling-like. I can't find anything to complain about when it comes to thin skins filled with salty porky matter (topped with a spoonful of gingery black vinegar, of course). Is it the best soup dumpling in New York City? I don't know, but it might be the soupiest. (Never ask me where to get the best soup dumplings; I don't know. I like most of them.)

The day almost ended with soup dumplings. But then. It didn't.

Sun Mary Bakery

Sun Mary
Sun Mary lives here.

At Kathryn's request, we headed to Sun Mary Bakery in search of egg custard tarts and whatever other desserts looked good.

dissimilar season same good mood

From the bakery's window: "Dissimilar season / same good mood." Yeah. That's what I've always been telling people.

panda cake

Inside, I was most intrigued by the cute cakes. Like Disembodied Panda Head Cake.


And Fat Pig Head Cake.

Their selection was more varied than some other bakeries I had been to (look at Kathryn's review for more info), although I was too full to indulge in the crazy selection. Not even their steroidal chocolate cream puff got my tummy rumbling. (I love that they had to get special dome-shaped packaging just for that puff.) Another unique offering was their fresh pineapple cakes with salted egg yolk-centers, as seen in Kathy's blog.

longan walnut cakes
It's a muffin. Kinda.

I picked up a half sugar longan walnut cake to eat later when I would inevitably regain my hunger. Unfortunately. it did little to fulfill my craving for...anything. Not sweet enough to be cake, or even a muffin, and too tough of a texture to be like cake, although it wasn't quite bread either. These could also be reasons to like it—if you want something that's just ever so slightly sweet and not cakey.

But when in doubt, you should probably get an egg custard tart. It tends to be a no-fail food.

UPDATE (6/2): Jessica commented that the egg custard tarts aren't so hot, so it sounds like you should skip them. Aw.

Although I desperately wanted to take a nap when I got back home, I probably spent the rest of my day editing these photos. I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THEM.

I Think I Want to Eat Everything in Flushing, Mostly at Golden Shopping Mall
The Good and the Bad at the Flushing Mall, Plus Mooncakes
Beef Noodle Soup and Ginormous Shaved Ice in Flushing


Best North Dumpling Shop
135-08 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

White Bear
135-02 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

Xian Famous Foods (basement of Golden Shopping Mall)
41-28 Main St
Queens, NY 11355

Flushing Mall
133-31 39 Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao
38-12 Prince St
New York, NY 11354

Sun Mary Bakery
13357 41st Rd
Flushing, NY 11355


James / March 30, 2009 2:51 AM

Those xiaolongbao are huge! I'll be sure to check out some of these eats the next time I'm in the hood, especially anything featuring the word "pancake." How fortuitous that we both just posted on Flushing.

keersten / March 30, 2009 3:29 AM

it looks like disembodied panda head cake has feet. front ones at least.

and my oh my, that flushing mall. i want to go to there.

teresa / March 30, 2009 6:00 AM

I prefer 359 (King 5 Noodle)'s Taiwanese breakfast. They have soymik and salty sticky rice roll. You should definitely try it during your next trek. It's best you go before 12:30 because things sell out quickly.

Lee Anne / March 30, 2009 6:29 AM

This post is killer. KILLER. T__T
Crullers in soymilk! :sob:
I can hear my tongue and stomach conspiring to flee my body while I'm sleeping tonight and book it to either Taiwan or New York.

(By the way, that sign says nothing about candy factories, but it does say "Shanghai Wontons, ShanDong Dumplings" and "Authentic." BETTER THAN CANDY.)

SuperChomp / March 30, 2009 6:35 AM

lol at White Bear. Even if you could read Chinese, you wouldn't be able to guess which sign was the right one!

Dammit, you always trigger off a craving for xiao long bao... And there isn't anywhere handy I can get them!

I'm not familiar with the double-carb cruller and pancake dipped in soya milk. I would have more expected a sweetened condensed milk thing like with fried mantou. I guess that must be an Asian kid nostalgia thing :)

TBF, longan isn't actually that sweet. Perhaps they should have added more sweetening. Can't say much for the unusual texture though. You're definitely right about egg tart being a safer option.

Rosebud / March 30, 2009 8:10 AM

Hola from healthygirl on SE (; -- in my travels to Flushing, White Bear remains a strange experience! I went inside looking for helado, and came out with a very similar dumplings I didn't even know I wanted. but still am nonplussed by the sign. Why? Is there something else going on inside there? Hmmmmm...

roboppy / March 30, 2009 9:21 AM

James: I too love most things involving the word PANCAKE!

keersten: Feet...or..useless nubbles? Head nubbles.

Jesse: I hope to have more soon. :)

Teresa: Thanks for the rec!

Lee Anne: Ahh so there is a correct sign in there...good to know. We have a lot to eat when you come back.

SuperChomp: I'd prefer the sweetened condensed milk with mantou combination. Or anything with condensed milk.

Justin: And there is SO MUCH MORE I need to try...

Rosebud: That's what White Bear has: dumplings you didn't even know you wanted. I wish they had ice cream too though. ;)

anna / March 30, 2009 10:13 AM

That all looks really good first thing in the morning. Except for the lamb face. But that's what I get for being veg. I wouldn't, however, turn down the panda head cake. And I think the fat pig wants to be friends.

Jen S / March 30, 2009 11:10 AM

wow! my bf and i were meaning to take a trip out to flushing to gorge on asian food and also to eat at the original joe's shanghai for their soup dumpling. but thanks for posting the addy's of all the places you went to.

Terry / March 30, 2009 12:37 PM

oh yes, flushing is awesome. glad you hit up all those spots! glad to see there's mango ice though i would think it's a bit cold for that right now...=P

Annie / March 30, 2009 12:59 PM

So jealous. Flushing begins to seem like The Promised Land, and I may never get there. Would it have been funny if Sun Mary had had a Lamb Face Cake? Or just frightening? Hmm.

Kathryn / March 30, 2009 5:19 PM

Good God, woman. You did all of this in one day? I'm super impressed (and hungry).

Also, I can't believe I haven't said anything yet -- SO NOT FAIR that you have a friend who spells her name the exact same way that I do, who gets to enjoy these gutbusting adventures with you. Every once in a while I pull up your site and read about what delicious things you ate with "Kathryn" and get very confused, and then very sad. I need to get back to New York.

rhianna / March 30, 2009 7:00 PM

*yay!!* i missed these long rants... god i felt vicariously full by the time i got to the end :-)

Sarah / March 30, 2009 8:27 PM

Flushing, you make me proud. And Robin, you make me hungry. =P I'll be sure to check out these eats next time I roll through Flushing.

Lee Anne / March 30, 2009 8:52 PM

Actually, we should just GO TO TAIWAN, together! :D Like we've been saying for ages! That comprehensive ShiLin night market photo tour you linked to on SeriousEats made me hella nostalgic.

More realistically though, yeah. Watch out, Flushing! >:D I'S COMIN.

Janet / March 30, 2009 9:54 PM

Thanks for posting this. I had this sudden urge to visit Flushing the other week. Now I must! Love the cakes, by the way!

Christy / March 30, 2009 11:58 PM

Oh my goodness. Reading this post makes me miss home! Can't wait to go back to Flushing... and EAT. You just made my week with your pictures :)

roboppy / March 31, 2009 1:12 AM

Yoko: Damn, I need to join that club.

Anna: Yeah, lamb face is not something you wanna...wake up to.

Jen: You will gorge sooo muuch. If you find anything else I haven't tired, you better tell me about it!

Danny: My kids will be even less knowledgable about Chinese than I am.

Terry: Nope, not too cold for ice cream. :)

Annie: If I lived there it probably wouldn't be the promised land. Funny how the great distance makes it seem even..better?

Kathryn: I'm kind of freaked out by how much I ate in one day.

My freshman roommate also spelled it Kathryn!


Janet: You're welcome! I hope you get to visit soon.

Christy: I'm glad I made your week!

Julie / March 31, 2009 3:39 PM

For reals, catching up on your blog made me happy. The French toast. Oh-em-gee.

Chinese restaurants with "Grand" in the name: they really do seem to be grand. When I visit my boyfriend's parents in Oklahoma City, we go to The Grand House, and it's the best Chinese food I've ever had.

There's a band called, I think, The Mouldy Peaches, and they do a manatee song. At least, they mention manatees in it. It cracks me up.

Edd / March 31, 2009 5:45 PM

wow long post but such nice looking food. The Wontons with hot sauce look mmmm gooood!! Your so lucky living in somewhere like NYC with such a choice of foods, id drown under the choice

roboppy / April 1, 2009 1:24 AM

Julie: I need to find all the manatee songs out there and make a manatee mix. I like the sound of this one.

Edd: Yup, NYC is great for food variety. And thankfully, public transportation to get to these far off places.

pat / April 1, 2009 5:19 PM

Love your postings, but Liang Pi is not named after the owner! It's a famous dish from the City of Xi'an in central China, where the First Emperor of China built his vast underground tomb with thousands of terra-cotta soldiers.

roboppy / April 1, 2009 5:27 PM

Pat: Whoops, thanks for the correction! I got confused because the owner uses the nickname liang pi. Fail.

emak / April 2, 2009 2:04 AM

nan xiang do have the best soup dumpling in nyc, not only because they are the soupiest ,but they make the thinnest dumpling skin!! did you only try the regular ones? the dumpling with crab was also very very good!

Jamie Watson / April 2, 2009 1:36 PM

Hi! I just thought you might find it funny that I found your blog because I was looking for pictures of donuts. What a great looking blog. Aloha!

Michael / April 2, 2009 3:53 PM

Sounds like a great day! I've got to try Nan Xiang.

Those dumplings with pork and fennel sound very cool. I've never seen fennel in a dumpling before. It looks in the picture like they used the stem part of the fennel--is that right?


roboppy / April 2, 2009 10:59 PM

Julie: That doesn't make being a manatee sound very good. Aw.

emak: Oh yeah, we only tried the regular ones...we were so full by then! Haha.

Jamie: Thanks for visiting!

Michael: Yup, it's the stem. I want to make some!

Jasmine / April 5, 2009 4:16 PM

Everything looks good, especially the cold noodles with veggies thing. I'm getting hungry even though I just had a bowl of ramen not that long ago!

jaymie / April 5, 2009 10:54 PM

I love crullers with soy milk.. its more like you tiao and dou jiang for me..but crullers taste awesome dipped in anything..savory congee especially..

LaserLiza / March 20, 2010 8:02 AM

Crap, I wish Boston's chinatown was closer to my house. Or that I was old enough to drive under the state's annoying laws. Or that there was a subway nearby and my mom wouldn't freak with over-protectiveness if I took it alone. SO MANY OPTIONS Anyway, I am drooling over that food. Especially the mango ice.

Jessica "Su Good Sweets" / May 27, 2010 12:13 PM

I went to Sun Mary based on your rec and man, they must have changed the egg custard tart recipe. The crust wasn't flaky at all (more like shortbread) and tasted like twice-fried oil. The liquid in the filling separated. Pineapple cake was really oily and tasted rancid. Green tea roll was actually pretty good. Lamb face salad (on the menu) and liang pi noodle at Xi'an were awesome.

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