Thursday, October 1, 2009

Boro Magic

Last week we went to Flushing, to Chinatown and also to Little India.
I left the trip -- three hours of walking around and eating -- exhausted, awed and also bewildered that I don't make the trip off my usual paths more often. We live in one of the food capitals of the world, and you don't have to be loaded to enjoy delicacies and treats from all over the freakin world. What is wrong with me? Why am I not having soup dumplings and samosas and kimchee all the time?

Anyway, here are some highlights from the trip. Some of the photos -- the nice ones -- were taken by my classmate Stephenie Stolp. I've marked the ones that were by her. Thanks Steph!

Joe's Shanghai
136-21 37th Avenue

This was one of the most delicious stops, the original of the Joe's Shanghai chain.

Soup dumplings.

What else can I say? You hold them in your spoon, you pierce a little hole, you suck out the soup, you eat the dumpling. It's done, it's perfection. There's nothing I can add to that excellent experience.
(Dumpling photos by Steph. )

Hong Kong Supermarket
3711 Main St

We went to Hong Kong Supermarket, which has an outlet in every Chinatown in the city. The Manhattan one is more touristy, the Brooklyn one is more ramshackle, and the Flushing one is more upscale. They all have incredible deals on fish sauce and noodles and fruit-flavored beef jerky. Also live frogs and fish, congealed blood, produce both exotic and tame, and... seaweed knots. Should you have a need. Which you may.

Ten Ren Tea and Ginseng
3518 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing

At some point in the blur of the day, we went to TenRen Tea Salon and got bubble teas. Here's another in my long list of shameful confessions eking their way out on this series of food tours: I've never had bubble tea before. I've known about it for years, and yet, had no great desire to slurp up gelatinous balls of probably genetically-modified tapioca in a highly sugared, artificially flavored drink. I'm funny that way. But, here I was on this food tour and imbued with a great spirit of adventure. So.... slurp slurp. Delicious! They really are.

I especially liked the Taro Root. With a name like Taro Root, how bad can it be? Okay, never mind, that's a rhetorical question. Lalalalala, please don't anybody send me the ingredients of bubble tea!
I also tried the Coffee Tea, which was made with Nescafe and... tea... and was also quite delicious.

Han Ah Reum
141-40 Northern Blvd

This was one of my favorite stops. It was like Hong Kong Market in that it had all the noodles and soy sauce varieties I could ever dream of, but also every Korean item, plus more Japanese items, plus gallon tubs of kim-chee and an entire aisle of grains and beans that, were I able to read Korean, I strongly suspect I might have recognized the word "organic" written all over them. The packaging had that brown paper Whole Foods, zen look to them. Also, everything was beautiful. They are open 24 hours and have a parking lot. Just something to keep in mind.

Thank you, Hanh Ah Reum, for putting in the little green grass strip with the mackerel. It's those little touches that will make it worth the trip out to Flushing.

I love this fish soup combo.

Subzi Mandi
7230 37TH Ave

This grocery store stocks most of the foods you'd need to make an Indian meal. After the snack food of Hong Kong market, it was a relief to see vast aisles of nuts and all the gorgeous russet and ochre hues of the spices.

Also, how can you not love a store named Subzi Mandi?

The produce was beautiful and exotic.

And I love the labels of Indian foods. There are this tradition of sweet, old fashioned illustration that is still being used everywhere.

This one was a little scary. Non-stop energy, eh? And that's... a... good thing?

After Subzi Mandi we went to a "sweet shop" across the street. Sweets means snacks, both savory and sweet. We got these plates of tidbits, got off our aching feet and snarfed it all down. Delicious. I love this food! Why do I not eat Indian food more often?

(all the LIttle India photos except the two close-ups of the labels were by Steph.)

By then I had to run to make it back to Brooklyn to pick up my kids. I brought them a 'sweet' -- a very un-sweet samosa -- to stave off the usual after school starvation. My son took one very game bite, recoiled in horror and handed it back to me, shaking his head frantically. My daughter wouldn't even try it. I think I just remembered why I don't go for Indian all the time.

But we are definitely going for soup dumplings.

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