Eating For Under $10 in Flushing

By: Cyndi Amaya

You know that craving you sometimes get for authentic Chinese food? Not the greasy-house-special-fried-rice-and-duck-sauce-stuff, but the real food that if you live in NYC would have to trek all the way down to Chinatown for. You know the kind I'm talking about- those perfectly pan-fried dumplings, the warm steamed pork buns, and the meticulously-cooked Peking Duck hanging from the window of a restaurant that's been in the neighborhood for years. Well luckily for me, I don't have to trek to Chinatown for it, and living in Queens, I don't even have to trek to Manhattan for it. Queens has its own special Chinatown, or should I say Asiatown, in the city of Flushing and as luck would have it, I live in the next town over.

I say Asiatown because Flushing not only has a concentration of Chinese shops, restaurants, and other establishments, but it also houses numerous (and I mean numerous) Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese businesses as well. It's totally worth a trip over to Flushing because when you do arrive, it's like you walk into the downtown section of an East Asian country- the language on signs change to characters and vendor after vendor sell a different variety of exotic foods and goods. You can pick up anything from Korean pastries to traditional Chinese herbs in the dozens of shops that line the streets. The main street is literally called, well Main Street, and the intersection of Main and Roosevelt is the hot spot for the greatest concentration of restaurants and pedestrians.

As an Asian food fanatic, Flushing is my ideal spot to grab a bite to eat. But when Peking Duck isn't in my budget, it's also the best place for a cheap bite too. So with just $10 in hand, I headed over to Main St. with my FPIC (food partner in crime) as we checked out just what we could find to satisfy both our bellies and our wallets. It turned out to be an epic food outing since we not only ate to our hearts content but also came back with change.

 You can't go to Flushing without getting Bubble Tea! So we started off at Cha Time (on Roosevelt, just before reaching Main St. and the 7-Train stop) since I recalled from my many trips to Main St. of their BOGO special on Bubble Tea. For just $2.25, you get two Milk Bubble Teas and while we waited for our order, we picked up an order of Pan-fried Noodles for another $2 in the same shop. They also sell Chinese Eggettes, but we opted for the savory instead. The noodles weren't too greasy and the crunchy sesame seeds were the perfect topping. So far, it was a good start to our food adventure.

Next, a friend of mine had mentioned Yummy Dim Sum where you could get small bites and even whole meals for just a few bucks. Sure enough, we found some great options. While the place is small and not the most welcoming, you can clearly see they put way more time into their food than they do their decor. I had been dying to check out this little treat shop since I heard about their amazingly fresh Steamed Pork Buns. Not only were they good, they were 4 for $1.25! We added an order of 4 Pan-fried Dumplings for another $1.25 and for under $3 we munched down on some of the most authentic-tasting Chinese treats this side of the Hemisphere.

With some bills still left in our pockets, we decided to try one more savory treat before hunting for dessert. So right across the street from Yummy, is the New Flushing Bakery where the aroma of freshly baked bread hits you as you walk in. Without hesitation, we ordered the first appealing thing we saw- the Curry Beef Bun. For $1.10, you get a spicy curry beef mixture baked in a super soft sweet bread. It was the perfect precedent to our next course.

Finally it came time for dessert, which I already had in mind what it was going to be. Right in front of the station to catch the 7-train, lies a Quickly shop and at this particular Quickly you get to witness one of the coolest little pastry-making machines through their storefront window. Every couple of minutes, one of the Quickly employees prepares hot and fresh cream puffs, little pastry puffs filled with uh- cream, and for just $2 you can try 8! You can also pick up 20 for $5, which you might just end up doing after you try them for the first time.

So there you have it! The two of us ate plenty for just under $10 in Flushing and pretty authentic Chinese food if I might add- Bubble Tea, Pan-fried Noodles, Steamed Pork Buns, Pan-fried Dumplings, Curry Beef Bun, and Cream Puffs for about $10...and technically it was two of us so if you split the cost, one person can leave Flushing with their belly full and all for under $5! Beat that Chinatown!

Photos: Cyndi Amaya and numbphoto - new for 2012

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