11. The Golden Mall in Flushing, Queens
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll likely miss the entranceway to the Golden Mall. The Golden Shopping Mall, a street-level food court, sits directly above the Golden Mall, and for our purposes is not where you want to be. Its storefront real estate dwarfs the small portal into this underground society of traditional food. You’ll want to look for the entrance pictured above, which will take you down a steep set of aging stairs into the basement, where a culinary world you’ve never seen the likes of before awaits.
Germaphobes and neat freaks be warned: the entrepreneurs in the Golden Mall are all about food, not presentation. The basement is literally packed with tiny food vendors, and its hallways are undeniably dirty, cramped and claustrophobic. “Grade Pending” signs dotting the walls are the icing on the “does the New York Health Department know about this place?” cake. I urge you, however, to overlook what you see, and instead embrace what you taste. After all, locals and world-renowned chefs eat here all the time, and don’t seem to mind at all.
See our photographic journey of the Golden Mall here.