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Where to Eat in Flushing’s Chinatown

From warming hot pot to hip new skewer spots, here’s where critic Robert Sietsema says to eat in the thriving Queens Chinatown

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As early as the 1970s, Flushing began its transition from a predominantly Italian and Jewish community to a Chinese one. The first newcomers were primarily Taiwanese, and eventually, beginning in the 1990s, immigrants from Fujian and then from northern and southwestern provinces arrived. Regional Chinese restaurants popped up that in some cases eclipsed the Taiwanese ones already there. But a new infusion of capital, some of it from Taiwan and Hong Kong, returned in the modern era to remake downtown Flushing, erecting skyscraper hotels and shopping centers.

The Chinatown you now see is buttressed by Korean and Indian communities, and now constitutes one of the city’s most active commercial centers, linked to the rest of the city by the Long Island Railroad and the 7 subway line. The streets are bustling with shoppers seeking out dumpling shops, bakeries, sprawling fish and vegetable stands, beauty shops, apothecaries, and restaurants. And walking down Main Street from the terminus of the 7 train is as close to being in Beijing or Taipei as one is likely to get in New York City.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

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136-59 37th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 762-8881

This Shanghai-based hot pot chain with over 300 locations in China features a logo of a smirking baby lamb with barrettes in its curly hair, and a dining room that’s a maze of airy, semi-private booths. Select thin-sliced meats, leafy vegetables, noodles, fish and beef balls, and dumplings, along with choice of broth from a check-off form. Then concoct a dipping sauce from a sideboard with dozens of sauce and spice offerings (a favorite is raw crushed garlic mixed with sesame tahini) and cook everything yourself in the bubbling pot. Big fun for any number, and a $13.95 pre-set special available at lunch is a fantastic deal. Beer and sake available.

The afternoon hot pot special

2. DaXi

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136-20 Roosevelt Avenue #2R
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 621-9999
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Several recent establishments have rewritten the book when it comes to NYC Chinese restaurant design, and DaXi did so in 2017. The restaurant occupies a sprawling second floor space in the New World Mall and has connections with a 35-year-old restaurant in Chengdu. Bright blue walls, bird patterned fabrics, and circular peach colored booths establish the design motif, and spectacular platings bring the food to the tables. Jumbo shrimp tumble out of a rice paper box, while cumin scented pork ribs arrive in a birdcage decorated with plastic flowers. Spiciest dish of all: house special sliced fish in hot chile oil. Expect a wait during prime times.

DaXi Photo by Ian Stroud

3. Szechwan Absolute

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39-16 Prince St Ste209
Flushing, NY 11354
(917) 983-6666
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Of the three exceptional Sichuan restaurants in the handsome and suburban looking One Fulton Square development, Szechwan Absolute is the most no-nonsense, plus slightly cheaper than other two. Hidden away on the third floor and approachable by elevator, the menu mainly sticks to Sichuan standards like ma po tofu, sliced fish in chile oil, and Chongqing chicken, here improved with the stylish dough twists called mahua. Also don’t miss non-Sichuan dishes such as boiled beef with Chinese sauerkraut. 

Szechwan Absolute Flushing

4. Asian Jewels

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13330 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 359-8600
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If craving top notch Cantonese dim sum, such as is readily available in Sunset Park and Manhattan Chinatown, Asian Jewels is the place to go in Flushing. The dumplings go around and around on carts, often delivered only minutes after they’re made and steamed. The huge dining room is elegant and relentlessly red, and dim sum is served well into the afternoon. Pillowy vegetarian rice noodle rolls and minced beef balls scented with orange peel are particularly recommended, as are steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce and honeycomb tripe with black pepper sauce. Humongous servings of soup such as fish maw with diced seafood will satisfy an entire table.

Asian Jewels Flushing

5. Miss Li Henan Cuisine

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133-49 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354
(347) 368-4442
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For a simple breakfast or lunch, drop by Miss Li Henan Cuisine, a newish, mural-decorated lunchroom loosely representing the cuisine of Henan. How about a bowl of cold skin noodles, not in swatches but in tendrils, slickened with chile oil and decorated with yellow chives. For handheld snacks, egg-stuffed bing are available, as well as the stuffed dough pocket called pork and chive cake. A version of the Xinjiang favorite known in Henan restaurants as big tray chicken is here rendered as a spicy brown stew. It stays open until 4 a.m.

6. Shanghai You Garden

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135-33 40 Rd
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 886-2286
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The soup-squirting dumplings known as xiao long bao are damn near perfect at Shanghai You Garden, whether you pick the plain pork or the pork with crab. In fact, their only local competition is at Nan Xiang on Prince Street. But, in an elegant coffee house setting, You Garden goes far beyond the usual coffee shop menu, offering dishes featuring mushrooms and gluten, pig feet, lion’s head meatballs, other types of Shanghai dumplings, and rice cake stir fries, another dish associated with the city.

Mushrooms and gluten at Shanghai You Garden

7. Fu Run Dong Bei

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40-09 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 321-1363

The mother of all northern Chinese restaurants in Flushing, and one of the most popular, is Fu Run. With a rectangular dining room, it presents the food of Dongbei, along with other northern dishes. The most arresting dish is called “Muslim lamb chop,” which turns out to be a hulking rack of lamb crusted with cumin seeds and way delicious. But one also shouldn’t miss baby corn with pine nuts, country style green bean sheet jelly, and pork with sour cabbage and rice noodle.

Muslim lamb chops Fu Run Flushing

8. Corner 28

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135-24 40 Rd
Queens, NY 11354
(718) 886-6628

For a decade between 2005 and 2015, a window at the corner of 40th Road and Main Street dispensed wonderful duck bao at the astonishing price of $1 apiece. These tiny sandwiches wrapped dark slivers of duck, crisp skin, julienne cucumber, and chives in a steamed bun, then squirted on hoisin sauce. The duck window disappeared a few years ago, but the duck concession reappeared in the Corner 28 carryout, now moved westward down 40th Road. Go to the counter deep inside. Still only $1.25 apiece.

Duck bao

9. Qing Dao Restaurant

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40-46 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354
(347) 732-0929

Named after a port city on China’s northeast coast that was once occupied by Germany, where Tsingtao beer has been brewed since 1903, Qingdao Restaurant trundles a wonderful display of snacks out into Main Street, all priced at a dollar or two apiece. There’s steamed corn, bulbous roast sweet potatoes, a pastry called chive box, and the fried dough called youtiao. Inside, find a worn utilitarian dining room pleasing in its plainness, with offerings that run to sliced fish with sauerkraut, sea slugs in tendon sauce, and a lively cucumber and pig ear salad.

Snacks for sale at Qingdao include roast sweet potatoes. Robert Sietsema

10. Golden Palace Gourmet

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140-09 Cherry Ave
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 886-4383

Not to be confused with another restaurant in Flushing called Golden Palace, Golden Palace Gourmet features a wonderful menu mainly from Dongbei, located in northeastern China. The menu was revamped three years ago, and the interior spruced up, and now the highlights include steamed lamb dumplings, dough drop with seafood soup, homemade blood sausage, dry fried silkworm chrysalises, the stuffed pastries called pork cabbage cakes, along with a steamed round cornbread loaf or a bowl of sorghum, both staple grains in Dongbei.

Pork cabbage cakes, Golden Palace Gourmet Flushing

11. Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet

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5910A Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 886-8788
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One of the best traditional Taiwanese restaurants in town is found just north of the LIE on Main Street in what constitutes almost a mini-Chinatown. The place calls itself Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet and has been in this spot since 2000, about the time northern Chinese and Fujianese became more prevalent in downtown Flushing and Taiwanese restaurants moved to other neighborhoods. All the classics are found here, including stinky tofu, three-cup chicken, oyster omelet, and meatball mochi, also known as ba wan or “Taiwanese meatball,” — meat tidbits embedded in gooey sweet potato starch. 

Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet

12. Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao

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59-16 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355
(718) 661-2882
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Off the beaten path (unless you happen to be driving to the Long Island Expressway), Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao is a modest spot that does dumplings very well. But the place also excels at a commonplace Shanghai menu that you’ll notice the minute you step in the door, as you are regaled with a display of cold dishes like wine-cured chicken feet, dried bean curd with pea shoots, and the now-standard garlic cucumbers. But also stop here for great rice cakes and pork, with plenty of pickled mustard greens.

Rice cakes Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao Flushing

1. Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot

136-59 37th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11354
The afternoon hot pot special

This Shanghai-based hot pot chain with over 300 locations in China features a logo of a smirking baby lamb with barrettes in its curly hair, and a dining room that’s a maze of airy, semi-private booths. Select thin-sliced meats, leafy vegetables, noodles, fish and beef balls, and dumplings, along with choice of broth from a check-off form. Then concoct a dipping sauce from a sideboard with dozens of sauce and spice offerings (a favorite is raw crushed garlic mixed with sesame tahini) and cook everything yourself in the bubbling pot. Big fun for any number, and a $13.95 pre-set special available at lunch is a fantastic deal. Beer and sake available.

136-59 37th Avenue
Flushing, NY 11354

2. DaXi

136-20 Roosevelt Avenue #2R, Flushing, NY 11354
DaXi Photo by Ian Stroud

Several recent establishments have rewritten the book when it comes to NYC Chinese restaurant design, and DaXi did so in 2017. The restaurant occupies a sprawling second floor space in the New World Mall and has connections with a 35-year-old restaurant in Chengdu. Bright blue walls, bird patterned fabrics, and circular peach colored booths establish the design motif, and spectacular platings bring the food to the tables. Jumbo shrimp tumble out of a rice paper box, while cumin scented pork ribs arrive in a birdcage decorated with plastic flowers. Spiciest dish of all: house special sliced fish in hot chile oil. Expect a wait during prime times.

136-20 Roosevelt Avenue #2R
Flushing, NY 11354

3. Szechwan Absolute

39-16 Prince St Ste209, Flushing, NY 11354
Szechwan Absolute Flushing

Of the three exceptional Sichuan restaurants in the handsome and suburban looking One Fulton Square development, Szechwan Absolute is the most no-nonsense, plus slightly cheaper than other two. Hidden away on the third floor and approachable by elevator, the menu mainly sticks to Sichuan standards like ma po tofu, sliced fish in chile oil, and Chongqing chicken, here improved with the stylish dough twists called mahua. Also don’t miss non-Sichuan dishes such as boiled beef with Chinese sauerkraut. 

39-16 Prince St Ste209
Flushing, NY 11354

4. Asian Jewels

13330 39th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354
Asian Jewels Flushing

If craving top notch Cantonese dim sum, such as is readily available in Sunset Park and Manhattan Chinatown, Asian Jewels is the place to go in Flushing. The dumplings go around and around on carts, often delivered only minutes after they’re made and steamed. The huge dining room is elegant and relentlessly red, and dim sum is served well into the afternoon. Pillowy vegetarian rice noodle rolls and minced beef balls scented with orange peel are particularly recommended, as are steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce and honeycomb tripe with black pepper sauce. Humongous servings of soup such as fish maw with diced seafood will satisfy an entire table.

13330 39th Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

5. Miss Li Henan Cuisine

133-49 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354

For a simple breakfast or lunch, drop by Miss Li Henan Cuisine, a newish, mural-decorated lunchroom loosely representing the cuisine of Henan. How about a bowl of cold skin noodles, not in swatches but in tendrils, slickened with chile oil and decorated with yellow chives. For handheld snacks, egg-stuffed bing are available, as well as the stuffed dough pocket called pork and chive cake. A version of the Xinjiang favorite known in Henan restaurants as big tray chicken is here rendered as a spicy brown stew. It stays open until 4 a.m.

133-49 Roosevelt Ave
Flushing, NY 11354

6. Shanghai You Garden

135-33 40 Rd, Flushing, NY 11354
Mushrooms and gluten at Shanghai You Garden

The soup-squirting dumplings known as xiao long bao are damn near perfect at Shanghai You Garden, whether you pick the plain pork or the pork with crab. In fact, their only local competition is at Nan Xiang on Prince Street. But, in an elegant coffee house setting, You Garden goes far beyond the usual coffee shop menu, offering dishes featuring mushrooms and gluten, pig feet, lion’s head meatballs, other types of Shanghai dumplings, and rice cake stir fries, another dish associated with the city.

135-33 40 Rd
Flushing, NY 11354

7. Fu Run Dong Bei

40-09 Prince St, Flushing, NY 11354
Muslim lamb chops Fu Run Flushing

The mother of all northern Chinese restaurants in Flushing, and one of the most popular, is Fu Run. With a rectangular dining room, it presents the food of Dongbei, along with other northern dishes. The most arresting dish is called “Muslim lamb chop,” which turns out to be a hulking rack of lamb crusted with cumin seeds and way delicious. But one also shouldn’t miss baby corn with pine nuts, country style green bean sheet jelly, and pork with sour cabbage and rice noodle.

40-09 Prince St
Flushing, NY 11354

8. Corner 28

135-24 40 Rd, Queens, NY 11354
Duck bao

For a decade between 2005 and 2015, a window at the corner of 40th Road and Main Street dispensed wonderful duck bao at the astonishing price of $1 apiece. These tiny sandwiches wrapped dark slivers of duck, crisp skin, julienne cucumber, and chives in a steamed bun, then squirted on hoisin sauce. The duck window disappeared a few years ago, but the duck concession reappeared in the Corner 28 carryout, now moved westward down 40th Road. Go to the counter deep inside. Still only $1.25 apiece.

135-24 40 Rd
Queens, NY 11354

9. Qing Dao Restaurant

40-46 Main St, Flushing, NY 11354
Snacks for sale at Qingdao include roast sweet potatoes. Robert Sietsema

Named after a port city on China’s northeast coast that was once occupied by Germany, where Tsingtao beer has been brewed since 1903, Qingdao Restaurant trundles a wonderful display of snacks out into Main Street, all priced at a dollar or two apiece. There’s steamed corn, bulbous roast sweet potatoes, a pastry called chive box, and the fried dough called youtiao. Inside, find a worn utilitarian dining room pleasing in its plainness, with offerings that run to sliced fish with sauerkraut, sea slugs in tendon sauce, and a lively cucumber and pig ear salad.

40-46 Main St
Flushing, NY 11354

10. Golden Palace Gourmet

140-09 Cherry Ave, Flushing, NY 11355
Pork cabbage cakes, Golden Palace Gourmet Flushing

Not to be confused with another restaurant in Flushing called Golden Palace, Golden Palace Gourmet features a wonderful menu mainly from Dongbei, located in northeastern China. The menu was revamped three years ago, and the interior spruced up, and now the highlights include steamed lamb dumplings, dough drop with seafood soup, homemade blood sausage, dry fried silkworm chrysalises, the stuffed pastries called pork cabbage cakes, along with a steamed round cornbread loaf or a bowl of sorghum, both staple grains in Dongbei.

140-09 Cherry Ave
Flushing, NY 11355

11. Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet

5910A Main St, Flushing, NY 11355
Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet

One of the best traditional Taiwanese restaurants in town is found just north of the LIE on Main Street in what constitutes almost a mini-Chinatown. The place calls itself Main Street Imperial Taiwanese Gourmet and has been in this spot since 2000, about the time northern Chinese and Fujianese became more prevalent in downtown Flushing and Taiwanese restaurants moved to other neighborhoods. All the classics are found here, including stinky tofu, three-cup chicken, oyster omelet, and meatball mochi, also known as ba wan or “Taiwanese meatball,” — meat tidbits embedded in gooey sweet potato starch. 

5910A Main St
Flushing, NY 11355

12. Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao

59-16 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355
Rice cakes Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao Flushing

Off the beaten path (unless you happen to be driving to the Long Island Expressway), Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao is a modest spot that does dumplings very well. But the place also excels at a commonplace Shanghai menu that you’ll notice the minute you step in the door, as you are regaled with a display of cold dishes like wine-cured chicken feet, dried bean curd with pea shoots, and the now-standard garlic cucumbers. But also stop here for great rice cakes and pork, with plenty of pickled mustard greens.

59-16 Main St
Flushing, NY 11355

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