Take the 7 train to the end in Queens, you'll arrive in NYC's legit Chinatown. Around the turn of the century Flushing's Chinatown had surpassed the Manhattan neighborhood, now with nearly twice as many Chinese Americans and immigrants. In Flushing you won't find faux pagoda roofs on buildings and phone booths, you'll also find very little English on store signs and windows. Flushing is not a seedy Cantonese tourist trap but a fully functioning community of Mandarin. Due the histrionics surrounding the Coronavirus both Chinatowns are suffering from a lack of visitors spending cash. Since I rarely turndown an opportunity to ride the 7 train I decided to explore Flushing's Chinatown and get lunch.
Eger to warm up on a cold February afternoon, I stopped into Szechuan House, 133-47 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY, 11354. I welcomed the hot tea whiling flipping through the menu. You'll quickly realize they specialize in the spicy. They use a 1 through 3 red pepper icon warning system. I don't handle the heat as well as I used to so everything 2 pepper and higher was off my consideration list. Pig brain, frog, quail and rabbit were all 3 peppers. I'd start simple with steamed pork dumplings. I chose two entrées the Braised Lamb with Chinese Cabbage in Brown Sauce, a mild dish needing no pepper icon warning. Also the one pepper Beer Flavored Duck with Bamboo in Spicy Sauce. I opened a Trip Wipes to freshen my hands then relaxed to take the atmosphere in.
Szechuan House is a simple single dining room. A nice clean look with white ceiling, walls and table cloths. No music, some Asian soap opera on a big screen that the waitstaff seems enthralled with. I was quickly informed the lamb had been eighty-sixed for the day. The two waitresses work in tandem. They are pleasant and don't keep you waiting.
Surprisingly the duck showed up first. It looks like a big bowl of warm delicious on a cold winter afternoon. Big chunks of duck, the bamboo looks like pasta and tastes like it too. The spicy comes from the tasty sauce so if you want more kick lap it up on the big spoon. I went about the duck a few different ways. Carefully picking out pieces with my spoon that appeared boneless. Eating chunks of the duck with the bones as the bone seemed soft enough to chew from the cooking. Fumbled with the chopsticks, I gave that up quickly. Finally I tried using my paws. With my fear of choking on a bone I settled with using my hands eating the duck like fried chicken. That worked great all I needed was extra napkins. I really gave up drinking beer years ago but I must say the Corona was perfect with this dish. Three pieces of duck then a nice gulp of Corona to cool the palate, rinse and repeat. I would also dunk my steamed pork dumplings into the spicy duck sauce. After a very satisfying lunch my thoughts were about the bakery I passed earlier.
In the mood for a coffee and a sweet treat I stopped into Tous les Jours, 39-16 Prince St, Flushing, NY, 11354. Meaning everyday in French this Korean franchise is an Asian-French bakery. You'll find a nice selection of cakes, cookies and pastry. Various coffee drinks, tea and other beverages are available to accompany your treats. I was intrigued by the idea of Bulgogi Sausage Rolls but filed that For Later. I ordered a cup fresh coffee. Also three macaroons Oreo, Earl Grey and Coffee. It's a large space with chill music although the small steel and wood chairs probably discourage spending hours there on your laptop.
Lunch set me back $34, the duck or dumplings alone would be filling enough. Happy hour gets you three beers for the price of one. Coffee and macaroons cost me $9.60.
Walking around Chinatown-Flushing looking for a meal is something I'll do again. The sidewalks were full after school with maybe 10% of people wearing masks. Forget Coronavirus get out and get lunch.