Throughout the past several decades, Flushing, Queens has become one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese diasporas outside of Asia, even within New York City itself. Flushing can be quite daunting to the outsider who’s not familiar with the area or traditional Chinese cuisine. Fortunately, after many visits through the bustling streets, seemingly endless restaurants, and surrounding parks, we have put together a day long walking guide to help give you a taste of the food, sightseeing attractions, and culture. Read on after for this guide for the top architectural sites in Flushing.
Suggested Group Size: 3-4 people (come hungry, very hungry)
Estimated Food Cost: around $50 total (bring cash as most places do not accept credit cards)
Starting point: Flushing Main Street (last stop on the 7)
Google Map of Locations: Click Here
Recommended Dish: Shanghai Soup Dumplings (listed as Steamed Pork Bun on menu) [order one for the table – 6 pieces for $5.25]
We must admit that the Shanghai Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) from Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao are some of the best outside of China. This little restaurant off Main Street consistently pumps out soup dumplings full of broth exploding with flavor in an ever so delicate steamed pork bun. Note to soup dumpling novices –DO NOT eat this like a normal dumpling! Soup dumplings contain a hot broth that must be slurped out before eating the whole thing in one bite (read this article for a little soup dumpling eating 101, but in short, pick the dumpling up by the knot with the tongs or chopsticks, place it on your spoon, nibble a tiny hole with your teeth, and slurp away!).
Recommended Dish: Wonton with Hot Sauce [order one – 12 pieces for $4.50]
Listed as #6 on the menu, these pork dumplings from White Bear are some of the best you’ll find in Flushing, with a perfect amount of roasted chilies, pickled vegetables, chili oil, and greens to compliment the dish. It’s a very tiny restaurant, so you might have to eat them curbside.
Recommended Dish: Peking Duck Sandwich [order one per person – 1 sandwich for $1]
By far the best bang for your buck in Flushing, Corner 28’s street-side stall serves $1 made-to-order Peking duck sandwiches that feature a strip of mouth-watering duck in duck sauce tucked in a very fluffy, doughy taco shaped bun. The women behind the counter will know what you want and probably ask you first if you want the duck sandwich, so just tell them how many, give them some dollar bills, and enjoy (on the curb since there’s no seating).
Recommended Dish: Fried Small Buns [4 pieces for $1.25]
The big star with these pork buns from Zhu Ji Guo Tie is the dough: soft, warm, and buttery brilliance. Did we mention you get four of them for only $1.25?! Once again, curbside eating only.
No other venue in Flushing epitomizes Chinatown quite like The Golden Mall: dingy, cramped, and the most authentic Chinese food outside of China. While the ground level floor has an array of small eateries, shops, and even a hair salon, it’s the basement that has garnered a global reputation. While this particular self guided tour only has you eating at one of the food stalls, definitely come back to check out stalls like Lanzhao Pulled Noodles to see the cook thwack fresh noodles on the counter, or Xi’an Famous Foods‘ original location for their Anthony Bourdain approved Lamb Cumin Burger. Get a closer look at the basement from our one of our previous articles by clicking here. And do check out the excellent restaurant, Biang! on Main Street, also by Jason Wang of Xi’an Famous Foods for a more restaurant, sit-down experience.
Recommended Dish: House Special Salad [order one – 1 salad for $3.50]
While many Sichuan restaurants that tout their hot-and-numbing dishes are usually more talk than walk, Chengdu Heavenly Plenty does not disappoint with its novocain-level numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The House Special Salad is a cold glass noodle dish with seaweed, chopped scallions, carrots, and a generous portion of the hot and numbing dressing. While it’s quite refreshing for a couple bites, it quickly turns into one of the strangest eating experiences as your tongue turns to plastic and cheeks begin to tingle (don’t be frightened when the Poland Spring you’re drinking tastes rancid — your mouth will return to normal after 5 minutes).
While this mall might look like any other indoor shopping mall in suburbia at first glance, you’ll quickly notice that almost every fashion, goods, and food retailer caters specifically towards the Asian community. New World Mall is frequently used for community and promotional events — such was the case on our last visit when the Cantonese television station TVM invaded the food court. Built in 2011, New World Mall (officially the largest indoor Asian market in New York state) houses a supermarket, dim-sum restaurant, banquet hall, 28 room karaoke lounge, and over 100 retail shops. Get lost and explore the three story, 165,000 square foot behemoth as there’s nothing quite like it in the NYC area.
Recommended Dish: Mango Glutinous Dumplings [order one – 3 large dumplings for around $3.50]
If you’ve learned anything on your tour so far today, it’s that amazing food in Chinatown usually presides in basements. Beautiful Memory Desserts, formerly known as Manji Dessert (we like the new name much better), contains one of the most delicious and fantastical foods we have encountered in the past couple years. It’s a bold statement, but the texture, consistency, and satisfying taste that come with your order of three Mango Glutinous Dumplings are hard to deny. The soft glutinous rice ball covered with shredded coconut and a gooey piece of fresh mango on the inside make you slip in and out of conciseness, so make sure you can find a seat in the crowded food court before taking a bite.
Recommended Dish: “Portuguese’ Egg Custard [order one per person – 1 for $1.25, 4 for $3.75]
A good egg custard is hard to find in NYC, but you won’t have to travel too far from the New World Mall to find it at New Flushing Bakery. This tiny bakery is home to the renowned ‘Portuguese’ Egg Custard, a perfectly crusted, buttery, and creamy egg custard with the optimal mix of vanilla and almond that will quickly satisfy the dessert compartment deep within your stomach. It will be tough to turn down the 4 for $3.75 deal once you step inside!
Recommended Drink: Taro Milk Tea [order one per person – 1 for $3]
We had trouble finding a decent bubble tea in Flushing for the longest time, and had given up hope until we took a sip of the Taro Milk Tea from Coco Tea & Juice. The taro milk tea is extremely sweet and easily one of the most refreshing drinks for a hot summer day. Since you’ll be walking to Corona Park after this, order a medium or large as it will take some serious determination and will power to not chug it before the end of the block.
On your way to Corona Park, take a quick stroll through the last major mall in Flushing, known simply as Flushing Mall. Unlike the weekend crowds in The Golden Mall and New World Mall, Flushing Mall is usually oddly quiet except for a couple members of the Ping Pong league and food court crowd in the main vestibule. All the shops are open, and as expected, are cheaper than any brick and mortar you’ll ever find in Manhattan.
Recommended: Italian Ice, any flavor [order one per person – 1 small for $1]
After walking due West of the park, you’ll come across the Lemon Ice King of Corona, which has served the community delicious italian ices for over 60 years. Grab a scoop (or four) and sit down at William F. Moore Park (referred to in the neighborhood as Spaghetti Park) across the street to see the locals play a couple games of Bocce.
Read on for the architectural guide to Flushing!