Essential restaurants: Dumpling Galaxy, Fu Ran, Joe’s Shanghai, Mapo BBQ, New World Mall Food Court, Szechuan Mountain House, White Bear
San Francisco lays claim to America’s first Chinatown, but NYC presently boasts the most impressive one. And it’s not in Manhattan. Downtown Flushing is home to one of the largest Chinese populations on this side of the globe. As such, it boasts some of the best Chinese food anywhere. By that, we mean all kinds: from classic Cantonese and spicy Sichuan to lesser known regional cuisines like Uighur. And dining here is by no means limited to the many influences of mainland China alone. Take a quick look around the New World Mall food court and you’ll quickly get a sense of the continental Asian scope: dumplings, noodles, shabu shabu, teriyaki, takoyaki, oh my!
Nearby, White Bear on Roosevelt Ave serves up the most incredible wontons in chili oil, while Fu Run, just around the corner on Prince St, offers delicious Northeastern-style cumin-covered Muslim lamb, and the original Joe’s Shanghai, on 37th St, keeps cranking out perfect soup dumplings like it has since 1995. In fact, there’s a dizzying array of specialties throughout the surrounding streets, like excellent Indian dosas at Ganesh Temple Canteen and respectable Korean-style grilled meats at Mapo BBQ.
Flushing is also the birthplace of one of the city’s most addictive and fastest-growing restaurant chains, Xi’an Famous Foods, home of the tongue-tingling hand-ripped spicy lamb noodles, which could soon reach juice bar-level ubiquity in the city. With 11 locations (and counting) there’s a little bit of Flushing now in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, but virtually nothing of Manhattan and Brooklyn in Flushing. Not foodwise anyway.
You could spend an entire day here eating up the neighborhood’s international smorgasbord and still spend less than a single meal at some Michelin-starred restaurant in Midtown. It’s the epitome of destination dining in New York City, and the closest you’ll come to Hong Kong without shelling out for the 16-hour flight. All you need is a subway card. And a tremendous appetite.
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