Saturday, November 27, 2010

Flushing Mall

There are two major food courts in Flushing - the Golden Mall and the Flushing Mall. Each have their charms, but for today, we are concerned with the Flushing Mall.
This is a modern food court experience compared with the rabbit warren-like den that is the Golden Mall. Plenty of seating, cleanliness, bathrooms, I can see why some prefer this spot. But really, the Gua Bao is the single most important reason to visit. I'll get to this in a moment.
Lamb Noodle Soup, Dan-dan Noodles, and Boiled spare rib:
The Flushing Mall contains about a dozen food stalls in the main area and an additional Korean Dumpling stall upstairs. Some common favorites are present including the amazing and famous X'ian Famous Foods, which also has it's original stall in Golden Mall and outposts on St. Marks St and Chinatown. There is Korean, Japanese, Hand-pulled noodles, Szechuan, Taiwanese, etc. We settled in with some surefire hits. Everything I am about to describe was, simply, fantastic.
From the far right of the court, we started with the only Szechuan stall, Chengdu Snacks. From here we chose some Dan-dan noodles and boiled spare ribs. The problem with ordering spicy foods from many ethnic places is that proprietors rarely believe your delicate palettes can handle the heat. Even though these were ordered by an Asian-American who insisted he could handle it, the Dan-dan noodles were not hot in the slightest. Somewhat of a disappointment. Insist on the heat. The boiled spare ribs were breaded, although the breading was mushed by the cooking, and incredibly tender. Very juicy pieces of meat.
Next, Stan and Beth ordered some hand-pulled noodles (also in the right side of the court). They are completely fine and comparable to any of the good Chinatown noodle joints.
We were sure to hit up the western Chinese cuisine of X'ian Famous Foods. This is pure food - it is focused on several major ingredients. Our choices were all centered on two ingredients: lamb and cumin. It is serious cumin. Below are short, flat lamb noodles in a spicy broth.
This is the lamb burger. It rules and is probably their most cited dish amongst western eaters. Again, cumin.

And now this brings me to the Gua Bao. This is basically the hamburger/sandwich of Taiwan. A squishy dough pocket filled with pork belly, pickled veggies, cilantro, scallion and a great crushed peanut-sugar mixture. The Gua Bao here blows away those served at Baohaus and I can't say exactly why (and I love Baohaus). They are certainly cheaper and much larger. Can't say the ingredients are any nicer. The setting sure is more authentic. Something about these things is just so overwhelmingly satisfying. For me, it is the combo of big meaty chunks of pork belly and a great peanut-sugar combo. Just really fantastic stuff.

I'm amazed:
Tim basically cleaned up our mess. He finished every morsel left over from our order, which was much larger than our stomachs could handle. And after eating it all, he still had a smile on his face.

Finally, Tim purchased a totally superfluous kimchi roll - he basically took the thing down himself: Dudes, Flushing Mall: GO NOW.

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