Thursday, August 5, 2010

New York City Day 1

I recently went to New York to attend a good friend's wedding.  I was super excited because it was the first wedding ceremony I've ever attended!  Of course I was even more excited for my friend, who married the sweetest man I've ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I'm completely jealous.  Congratulations JR & JG!

The wedding was also a great excuse for me to explore the NY food scene, Chinese food in particular...

The first thing I did after checking into the Warwick, was head out to Flushing, Queens.  Chinese restaurants that haven't succumbed to the pressures of serving Americanized-Chinese food are in the single digits here in Austin (my top three picks: First Chinese BBQ, Asia Cafe, and Din Ho).  I was thus eager to reacquaint myself with venues that don't give a damn about Western tastes.  Unfortunately, they also have a habit of flunking health inspections.  Before my trip, I researched places I wanted to try.  It turned out a bunch of the restaurants and Flushing Mall food stalls on my list were shut down this year by the health department.  Quite a few were highly recommended by critics, foodies, and yelpers.  :-(

Flushing, Queens

Walking around Main Street and Roosevelt was exciting and frustrating, like the rest of NYC except for the constant chatters in Cantonese and Mandarin along the bustling sidewalks.  Goods and produce overflow grocery stores and medicinal shops and onto the sidewalks.  Fruit and roasted/marinated meats vendors hollered out their goods at passersby.  Food lovers unabashedly show their enthusiasm for what Flushing has to offer by expertly picking out fruits and veggies, slurping handmade noodles in basement stalls, sipping boba teas while searching for the next snack.  It was so tempting to get picked up by this swell of felicitous food loving and eat everything in sight.  However, I had to save room in my tummy that evening for what I knew was going to be the highlight dish of my NYC trip.

Grilled Skewered Meats and Seafood

A Busy Prepared Foods Stall in a Hole in the Wall

"New Chinatown" Market

My friend in New York, a former Austinite, warned me about the sweltering summer heat, and she was absolutely right.  That's why I made sure to add Ice Fire Land for Taiwanese shaved ice to my itinerary.  Ice Fire Land is a Taiwanese hot pot restaurant with a boba tea and shaved ice bar at the front. 

Ice Fire Land

I ordered a bowl of shaved ice with taro, stewed peanuts, pineapple chunks, and condensed milk.  Although not spectacular, it was still tasting and sufficiently cooled me off.

Shaved Ice with Peanuts, Taro, Pineapple, and Condensed Milk

After more food scouting, I headed to 東湖 New Imperial Palace Seafood Restaurant for their famous glutinous rice steamed with dungeness crab.  Apparently, every table ordered one or two steamers of this dish!  It's not overhyped.  It's as good as sticky rice gets.

New Imperial Palace Seafood Restaurant

I was afraid that the dungeness crab would not be as fresh as a strictly dungeness crab dish, but the crab was meaty and delicious by itself!  The rice, although simple, was perfectly cooked (not too soft and sticky and not hard and stale), soaked up all the crabs' natural flavors, and went from delicious to drool-inducing with the aid of fried shallots and fresh scallions. 

Glutinous Rice Steamed with Dungeness Crab

This should be on everyone's NYC food list

We only ordered this one dish as we didn't have a fridge and didn't have anything with which to reheat leftovers at the hotel...until I figured out that I had to request room service for a coffeemaker.  You can make so much more than coffee with a coffeemaker and air vents can sometimes double as a fridge!  More on that in later posts...

All meals end with a free bowl of sweet red bean soup and a small plate of canned fruits.  The fruit is lame, but it's free and the red bean soup is good.  I prefer this to the disgustingly teensy weensy dessert "course" at Momofuku's newest restaurant, Má Pêche .  More on that later...

Hot Sweet Red Bean Soup and Canned Pineapple and Lychee

Not satisfied with the canned fruit for dessert, we lugged a small yellow-flesh watermelon back to the hotel.  I was hoping to find Taiwanese guavas and mountain apples in the Flushing markets, but I had no such luck.  I still believe that the only state that carries a reliable supply of Taiwanese fruits is California.

Yellow Flesh Watermelon

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