Based in Toronto and New York City

, Nancy Matsumoto is a writer and editor who covers sustainable agriculture, food, sake, arts and culture.

Archival posts from my former blog, Walking and Talking

Visit to Flushing, Queens Chinatown

Touring Chinatowns with Buddakan Co-Executive Chef Yang Huang has become a habit that we can't seem to break. Since we've already visited those in Brooklyn and Manhattan for Edible articles, Yang suggested we check out their Queens counterpart, centered on the terminus of the Number 7 line at Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue.

So along with his new bride Christy (they were married in September before 400 family members and friends) and Buddakan wok chef Mr. Lee, we took our empty stomachs to Flushing.

At our first stop, the humongous Grand Restaurant, on the third floor of the shiny New World Mall, we sampled a selection of dim sum, including some perfectly prepared shrimp hargow, my favorite pork wrapped in yuba skin, and beef siu mai. There were also marinated and steamed chicken feet and beef tripe in a soy-based sauce, which Westerners and Japanese almost never order, and which I consider a rare treat when I'm with an all-Chinese group.

The most novel dishes to me, though, were three desserts that Christy ordered, a silky sweet pumpkin and corn soup; a red bean, coconut milk and rice flour squares that were in texture like a cross between flan and chiffon pie, and an amazing lao sa bao. The white bao look like pert Japanese azuki-filled manju, but are instead filled with a rich, oozy yellow filling made with butter, sugar, and custard powder, according to Yang. They are served steaming hot and because of their grainy texture, are known as "running sand" bao in Chinese.

The happy newlyweds, Yang and Christy.
(Retiring Mr. Lee had momentarily disappeared.)

After admiring the extensive seafood tanks at Grand Restaurant and meeting CEO Tim Cheng, we headed downstairs to a different kind of diner's paradise, the New World Mall food court. There, the highlight was a bowl of hand-pulled noodles swimming with beef in a dark broth from Lanzhou Handmade Noodle. Named for the capital city of Gansu Province in Northwestern China, where they are a specialty, these amazing noodles are endowed with an addictively perfect chewiness, a bite-to-resistance ratio that, on first taste, solves the mystery of the shop's renown.

And as if that weren't enough, Yang was determined to hit one more Flushing favorite, Corner 28, where we sat upstairs, watching bustling Main Street traffic below and crunching our way through the crispiest and most delicious version of this dish I've ever had.

Now that we've successfully invaded and taste-conquered three major Chinatowns in New York City, we've decided on our next goal: a Japanese izakaya, for rustic pub food and beer.  

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