Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Flushing Conundrum

With some free time on Friday, Steve and I decided to make a Flushing excursion. I also had the ulterior motive of wanting to check out some of the grocery stores in the area for more Sichuan ingredients.

As usual, we were met with what should be dubbed "The Flushing Conundrum." Essentially, it's the never ending struggle between the desire to try one of the thousands of different restaurants in the neighborhood, against the urge to eat at an old favorite. We decided to split the difference.

Our first stop was (old favorite) Chengdu Heaven, in the basement of the Golden Shopping Mall. I want to eat the whole menu here. We ordered some new dishes, but as I do every time, I got the house salad.

As usual, the salad with three ingredients was excellent, with a numbing spiciness offset by the vinegar and sweet carrots. I'm making it a point to avoid some of the dishes I've cooked from Land of Plenty, so I wanted to try the rabbit in a chile-bean paste sauce. It's a little work for the meaty morsels around the tiny bones, but totally worth the effort (and an added bonus when you get a boneless piece). The strong flavor of the chile-bean paste went well with the sesame oil and peanuts that dotted the mound of rabbit.

Potatoes and peppers is always a great mild dish which cuts the spiciness of the hotter flavors. I had never tried it at Chengdu Heaven, but it was excellent.

After filling up at Chengdu Heaven, we debated our next stop. Naturally, I wanted to order more dishes, especially the homemade spicy sausages, but Steve ultimately dragged me out of the Golden Mall.  We initially settled on Nan Xiang Xao Laong Bao, but as we passed Taste of Shanghai around the corner, we were beguiled with images of a giant pork shoulder in brown sauce.

We entered and ordered the pork shoulder, plus a beef and pepper stuffed sesame pancake. The waiter gave us a weird look and walked off.

These were good, and the peppers were much spicier than expected. It tasted like a Shanghai cheesesteak (sans cheese).

Pull back the skin to reveal the juicy meat inside.

The shoulder was outstanding. Sweet brown sauce poured down the pork, covering the layer of baby bok choy with sauce and fatty juices. I only wish it had slightly more sauce. Yet for under nine dollars, I can scarcely say a bad word about this dish.

Stuffed with food, we made our way to the Great Wall Supermarket on Northern Boulevard across from Hunan House to look for more Sichuan ingredients. I found some of what I was looking for, but I also picked up something that just came in season.

Check back later this weekend to see what I bought (and what I did with it). I promise it will be worthwhile.

Chengdu Heaven
Basement, Golden Shopping Mall
41-28 Main Street
Flushing, NY

Taste of Shanghai
39-07 Prince St. 
Flushing, NY


  1. where is it possible to buy the Zsechuan peppercorns responsible for the ma la effect, in either Manhattan or Flushing?
    Thank you.

  2. I use Penzey's, which you can buy at their stall in Grand Central Market. I've gotten them at Kalustyan's in Murray Hill, but Penzey's product was far superior. Haven't really explored spots to buy them in Flushing though.