the party after the party

Chinatown, Flushing, Queens

I just got back from my first food crawl. Yes, seriously, my first. Maggy of Three Many Cooks had invited me to the event, but it turned out she couldn’t make it. Jessica, Amy and Liza were doing the planning, but even though I consider them all to be Twitter friends, I’d never met any of them in person before. So my choices were to get myself out of a recent funk and brave the slush in Flushing’s Chinatown, or sit home and bake. Okay you’re right, the baking option sounds pretty good too, but I decided to take the long ride on the 7 train instead. I turned out to be the first one there (or was that Kate) despite a little confusion about the name of the dim sum restaurant where we were meeting, and nearby Main Street being totally shut down for some kind of Con Ed emergency. About the food, no complaints of course. I always enjoy Sunday morning dim sum. Then we ended up at Flushing Mall to try Xi’an, but I go to their Manhattan outposts so often, the last time I stopped by the St. Marks location, the counter guy called out “Hi, Justin” as I walked in the door. We were supposed to go out for soup dumplings next, but the place was too mobbed for our big group to get table. So Jessica had to think on her feet, and this is when things got really good. It’s too bad a bunch of the original food crawlers had already decided to head home by this time.

duck buns in Chinatown

I’m all about the street food. Slush or no slush, we were gonna make this work, fancy cameras in hand, weaving our way through the Flushing crowds. Duck buns for a dollar. I’ll take two. Next time I hear someone raving about a fancy-shmancy pan-Asian joint in Manhattan that does any buns like this for $12 or more, I’m going to laugh to myself. These were downright perfect. Just don’t ask me for the name of this place — it’s a small windowfront on Main Street, maybe a block south of the 7 train, and I think they only sell duck.

sesame buns in Chinatown

We walked maybe half a block more and stopped at another window. Sorry this post is the worst travel guide ever, but I don’t know what this place was called either. Heck, I’m not even sure what was inside these sesame buns, but they were soft, flakey, really satisfying, and dirt cheap. My kind of food.

small buns in Chinatown

At this point I’d already decided that Jessica was an awesome tour guide and would have been satisfied heading home. We stepped up to a window on 41st Ave, about half a block west on Main Street. The menu looked familiar — I’ve been to a lot of places like this in my life. We were advised to order the “small buns.” Within seconds you’re handed a container — four for $1.25. After one bite, I turned into a salesman, insisting the foodie next to me try his buns immediately while they were still hot, and then offering some other new friends one of mine to sample. Crispy on the bottom, perfectly tender everywhere else, outrageously good pork filling. You should have seen us, the original group of thirty now dwindled down by about half, taking up the entire sidewalk. I won’t post any group photos, because in every shot, someone’s got a mouth stuffed with something. They’re all new friends — no need to make any enemies by posting unflattering, mid-bite photos. (Update: Marc took this group photo.) At this point, I’m pretty sure everyone was ecstatic about the small buns, a perfect end to the crawl. I met too many people to list them all or even remember some of their names, but I’ll post links below to any other write-ups about the event if you send me a note. I’m sure any other blog posts will be more complete than mine, but I’m all about the party after the party.

See Jessica’s way more complete recap on Food Mayhem.

See Allison’s great photos from the crawl.


28 thoughts on “the party after the party

  1. Justin! Of all the tours slash food adventures you go on this is the one I want to really jump in on. It would remind me of sydney and the great chinatown we have and cheap eats to be sampled. Next time let me know…
    simon a.

  2. Hey Justin! It’s Gary (the big Filipino guy haha). It was great meeting and eating with you today! Loved the post — really glad you were able to make it (I myself was worried I would miss dim sum because of the firetrucks and traffic haha). As I always say – “Food is Social” and was great experiencing Flushing’s finest with you and the food crawl group.

    I have to agree, I love the duck bun! The tangy sauce and the crisp duck really does it for me. Looking forward to the next food tour!

  3. Hey Gary,
    Nice meeting you the other day, sorry we didn’t get to chat more, even though I was sitting right next to you! Sorry that you had received bad news, so that makes me happy that you came to the crawl, food always makes the day brighter, right?

    1. ha, i looked at it on my computer screen later and realized you probably saw the comment from Gary and that caused you to goof. really, it’s okay. and thanks for being the translator yesterday. i go out for dim sum often, and i can ask for a couple of dishes by name, but you were obviously on a whole different level.

  4. Oh wow.. this is so reminiscent of the Unique Eats episode of bustaurants… I just love how food is in little quantities for affordable prices, so means you can eat a variety and its bang for your buck!!

  5. Jessica is an awesome food tour guide, indeed. I’m still dreaming about the ramen she took me and a friend to a few weeks ago. I would’ve never waited on my own 30 minutes for any restaurant, but gave into the cravings of her pregnancy, and am so glad I did!

  6. Great recap! Wish i took more pictures of the crowd. It was great meeting everyone and hope we can all do it again.

    a little sad we didnt get to hit up the soup dumplings and the grocery store! I was definitely looking forward to some cheap Chinese groceries.

    1. Patrick, thanks for stopping by. I’m still trying to match up some names to faces to web sites. I agree — ingredient shopping is always fun. Fortunately though I go out for soup dumplings in Manhattan’s Chinatown pretty often.

    1. oh really? that’s interesting. i know what you mean about the bean paste type, but these were savory. the filling was mostly vegetable though, like a cabbage or root vegetable, but definitely not the sweet bean paste.

  7. Street food is amazing. It perturbs me beyond end that restaurants will sell dishes like these with an outrageous markup and take advantage of people who are none the wiser that they can get something just as good for dirt cheap. New York is such a wonderful place for food – oh how I do miss it!

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