The thing about reading and keeping up with lots of food blogs is that you read about all this incredible food that you don’t always necessarily get to go eat. You can go the high end, expensive route, but my job doesn’t quite allow my wallet down that road just yet. You can go the cheap eats route, but I would get so fat so fast, well, I don’t want that (not until after I get married *wink* is what I tell the BF all the time!). So I try very hard to encompass the mid-level – I’m a “normal” – err, poor choice of word – average? still not quite accurate, but basically, I’m pretty sure I’m not alienating anyone with my food habits. I’m the everywoman, eating in NYC without an expense account – which means occasional splurges, many not-cheap-but-not-expensive meals (which, by the way, tend to be THE most mediocre… I feel like I should concentrate on cheapCHEAP food and only every once in a while splash out for a huge expensive mind-blowing meal… but that’s a different story, I guess), and sometimes some creative cobbling.
Anyway, one day during my stay-home-vacation (aka staycation, gahhh, that’s one portmanteau I’m not in love with), I decided to get off my butt, run into Flushing, run around and hit up a couple of places, grabbing food from each, then run home. Thus… the Flushing Run.
The first place I wanted to hit, Gu Shine, was out of the pork buns I’d heard Salty Savory Sweet describe as ‘…beats the hell out of Momofuku’s pork buns,… at less than half the price for nearly four times the size…’ They had vegetarian ones, but really, I wanted to try the pork one. I mean come on, look at that photo, wouldn’t you? (The cashier simply said “All out” – it was about 4 in the afternoon at this point; I’m not sure if it was my lack of Mandarin skills that led her to give me absolutely no explanation whatsoever?)
Next, I ran over to ‘the bunch of stalls underneath the LIRR tracks’ – if you’re familiar with Flushing at all, it’s next to the KFC and the stairs that lead to the LIRR. If you’re not, well, it’s along Main Street, if you walk up Main Street towards the LIE. I really am not good at Flushing directions – in fact, when I first got off the train and wandered around a little, I walked in the wrong direction to find Gu Shine and stumbled across “Queens Crossing” which prompted me to text my friends “Where am I? What is this? What happened to Flushing?” because that area of Flushing suddenly looks so modern, big, and… clean! One friend responded by asking me how long it’d been since I’d gone to Flushing, and after some thought, I realized the last time I’d actually walked around Flushing for the sake of walking around, I was probably in high school. Since then, I’ve only been driven to Flushing to eat at specific restaurants; get out of the car, go into the restaurant to eat, get back in the car and go home. No sightseeing. Amazing, considering I live pretty close by, and I am one train station away at least 2-3 times a month (for ball games).
Anyway, I tried to peer through the windows, but was quickly reminded that you do not get in the way of hungry Asian people. (In fact, if you happened to catch the episode of No Reservations about street food that was on recently- August 4th, I believe- you can hear a woman screaming at Anthony Bourdain in Cantonese to stop blocking the way and hurry up, since he’s standing there peering at the offerings. Pretty funny.) I snapped a quick pic before making an executive decision to buy starting from the windows on the left.
In my heavily accented Cantonese, I requested, literally, “one curry fishball[s]” (Chinese isn’t much for plurals or conjugation), and “cold milk tea” – which prompted the lady to pull out a milk tea already made, show it to me, and ask me something. Blank look, and she asked me 2-3 times, while I stared at her, uncertain what she was asking me. I’m pretty sure she subsequently mumbled in another dialect, “f*cking retard” before bagging up my goodies, but… Well, it’s a hazard of knowing enough Cantonese to order comfortably and looking Asian, but being partially deaf and being unable to understand much that’s thrown my way. I almost wish sometimes I were actually not Asian looking at all, because then at least she’d know right away to not bother speaking to me in any form of Chinese! Whatever, I got my sweet, milky tea, 16 ounces of it to be exact, for $1.25. Starbucks, which is less than a block away, can suck it. (This stand also offers iced coffee, same size, same price, which has enough caffeine to put me into cardiac arrest.)
Next was… steamed pork buns, from the same row of windows but a few stations down (closer to Roosevelt Avenue)! These are not “char siu bao” (roast pork buns) with the slightly sweet, reddish pork bits inside. I can’t explain it, except I’m pretty sure they’re called “choi yuk bao” – which means veggie meat bun – although I’m also positive the above sign does NOT say that in Chinese. Don’t ask.
After that, I continued walking back towards Roosevelt Avenue and stopped at the windows below “Corner 28” the restaurant. All sorts of raw skewers, just waiting for one to order them and be grilled, but I already had my fishballs, and I wasn’t sure how to order these anyway – sure, I could point, but what if she asked me how I wanted it cooked? Curried or not? Some word I didn’t understand and had to stand there gaping awkwardly? Yeah, sometimes my fear of being treated like an outsider paralyzes, but whatever, I was on my way to creating a feast. Besides, I really was at Corner 28’s window for something else, something much, MUCH better…
Do you see what I am looking at? -yes, I did want duck wings, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to eat them all comfortably – I used to split a box with my mom and sister when I was a kid, and damn those were good… mmm, I kind of want some now! – but no.
I was there for the $1 Peking duck [buns]!!! No, they didn’t cut it fresh, but that’s fine, I don’t need to watch, I just need to eat it. She stuffed my buns super quickly and with a good amount of meat.
After that, instead of walking straight back down Main Street towards Roosevelt Avenue, I turned left at the corner and looped around until I hit White Bear. Loyal/longtime readers might recognize I went there last year as part of my birthday lunch (yes, in Flushing, though I didn’t wander around the area, I just went to three specific places then went home).
Funny enough, I mentioned last time about not speaking Mandarin, and all that, but I walked in, stared at the menu, and ordered… in English. I simply said “Can I have dumplings in hot sauce?” and the guy looked at me and said “You want wontons in hot sauce, not dumplings, it’s better,” and I shrugged and said okay. I know there’s some difference to the two – wontons and dumplings – but I like that style of food, so it doesn’t register in my head often that there’s a difference. But look: I lucked out and don’t need to speak Mandarin to eat here!
You’re probably wondering “WTF Yvo? You talk about all this food, where are the pictures of the food? Who cares what the menus or the stands look like! SHOW US THE FOOD!” Well, I actually turned around and lugged all this crap home via public transportation after that. It took me 30 minutes because the MTA wants to make us all miserable – it should have taken 15-20 minutes, really – but whatever, this was also a test to see if I should do this more often, to see how the food could hold up during that train ride.
First up: $1 for a skewer of curry fishballs. Spicy – almost too much for my wussy tongue – but very tasty, still hot. Yum! Next time I’ll man-up and get from the place that cooks them fresh. The first stand will be relegated for iced drinks, and they had a sign – chicken drumsticks, 2/$1. Or was it 3? If it’s 3, I expect the little ones, but if it’s 2, that better be the big ones… FRIED. YUM.
Here are the pork buns! I didn’t take a picture of the insides, but this was exactly what I’d hoped they were. Kind of like a meatball inside, juicy, delicious, but not saucy or overwhelming. This is actually the perfect breakfast; I didn’t even eat one right then because I uh, ate everything else.
The Peking duck suffered a little only in terms of appearance. Yeah, some of the hoisin sauce rubbed off, but mostly they remained intact – this may be due in part to my having ordered 3, which meant they were snug in their box as opposed to one loose one rattling around the container. In any case,
for $1, this was definitely win.
Yeah, some duck meat fell out before I took this side view to show you how much duck was in it, so yeah… these were damn tasty and well worth the price. I can’t say it’s the best Peking duck I’ve ever had – actually, I don’t even have a criteria for Peking duck, because I eat it so rarely – but this is incredibly worth it, especially for the single eater (or just two people, even). Think about it: everywhere else, you’ve got to buy the whole duck, and then what? You can’t eat anything else or you eat other stuff but then have leftovers for days and by the end you may be sick of it. Ok, that’s a lie, but I find this a cost-effective way of getting to eat Peking duck with lots of other stuff. It’s a brilliant business idea and I commend Corner 28 for thinking of it and implementing it through a window – complete genius. I’ll be back… for sure.
The wontons! (See, I’m learning.) I have to say, maybe I just hyped them up in my mind, but it wasn’t as good this time around. There was a slightly tinny or metallic taste to them and the skins weren’t quite as pliantly thin as I recalled, but this could be due to the transportation time, boo. I still ate them happily, don’t get me wrong, but they just didn’t live up to my memory of them. I’d still get them again though! You can’t fault a place if it was completely amazing one time and almost a year later, simply mediocre – you’ve got to go back and try it again to figure out which time was the fluke. Right? Right!
The complete feast (minus the iced milk tea, which I finished on the train ride back, so no photo, but I assure you, it was 16 ounces – I looked on the bottom of the cup 😉 – oh and minus a fishball that I ate before I took pictures cuz I was super hungry, hahaha):
which, my dearest friends and readers, came to a grand total of $11.
Bear in mind, that was way too much food for me to eat in one sitting (maybe I could have, but I wouldn’t have liked myself very much afterwards). The pork buns were reserved for breakfast, snack, and two bentos, while I ate all of the fishballs, hmm maybe half the dumplings? and 1 or 2 Peking duck buns right away. So this was mostly two really full meals for me, and could have been more (or less) depending on my mood. So would I say that’s worth it for maybe 30-60 minutes of running around, dodging tourists and old people and trying not to inhale the awful stench of parts of Flushing?
HELL YEA!!! I would definitely do this again, and probably will, sometime soon, and add some noodles into the mix for a private feast with the BF. Delicious.
Happy eating! Are there any places I missed that you recommend I hit next time???
*I decided to give you my own map of my exact route, which makes it look less troublesome than it really was, as it’s all within a block radius of the train station – minus the misstepp with the attempted pork buns at the top of the entry…
View Flushing Feast in a larger map