New in numbing noodles: The appearance of this stall's namesake bowl ($7) is not unlike that of similar dishes from Guizhou province, Chongqing's neighbor to the south. Note the scallions and peanuts especially; expect sesame seeds and roasted soybeans, too. But the deeper you dig though the wispy wheat noodles, the more you'll taste the mala seasoning of Sichuan province, to the west. (Indeed, the municipality of Chongqing was part of Sichuan until a decade ago, when it was granted independent administration.)
The signage in the food court, also shown here, is in Chinese only. Though my receipt cited Chong Qing Noodle (singular), I've chosen to use Chongqing Little Noodles, a translation that is both more fluid and more direct. "Little," in this instance, is not a measure of size but — as with the youngest Cartwright brother — a mark of affection. In Chongqing, they love their noodles.
Chongqing Little Noodles New World Mall food court, stall 19 136-20 Roosevelt Ave. (Main-Union Sts.), Flushing, Queens 718-888-1113
The wary vendor sat astride a bicycle. Athwart his handlebars, into what looked like a root pouch for a now-unpotted plant, he had thrust three or four sticks of tanghulu; I'd bet that more were hidden in the bag at his side. His minimalist display might have passed as decorative, rather than sales-minded, except for the way he kept his head on a swivel.
My photo shows the candy-lacquered fruit ($2 per stick) after I had removed the plastic overwrap and peeled away an edible but unphotogenic underlayer of rice paper. Judging by the pips within, roughly the size of apple seeds, I believe that these were haws — that is, fruits of a hawthorn tree.
Though haws are still harvested in the American South, the whole and unprocessed fruits have never crossed my radar in New York. These fruits, perhaps even the finished tanghulu, may have been imported.
Tanghulu vendor Main St., Flushing, Queens Hour and location very irregular
Ancient art: Turn an adversary's weapon to one's own advantage. The business end of a claw was a handy tool for digging meat from chopped crab and scattering it over this eggy Fujianese stir-fry ($6). Patience rewarded.
Changle Cuisine 41-42A Main St. (41st Rd.-Sanford Ave., inside Friendship Shopping Plaza), Flushing, Queens 929-300-8988
Hunan, in common with Sichuan and the lesser-known Chinese province of Guizhou that borders them both, loves its chile peppers, but Hunan cuisine isn't fixated on heat. Many dishes incorporate the flavors of ingredients that are pickled or otherwise preserved, sometimes in concert with the sour tang of vinegar.
Two terrific cases in point: white jalapeño Chinese preserved meat (first photo) and steamed eggplant with salt egg. See more from this meal on the EIT Facebook page.
(This venue is closed.) Fish flavored pork contains no fish — it draws on the seasonings found in Sichuanese fish cooking. These typically include pickled chiles, sometimes blended with bean paste, as well as garlic, ginger, and green onions, plus vinegar and sugar. The dish may have a kick but rarely, by most accounts, out-and-out chile heat. This rendition ($8), prepared by natives of Beijing and not Chengdu, had a predominantly sweet-sour, almost fruity character that was very enticing, my dining buddy and I concurred.
Also shown: the cleared tray. In Southeast Asian food courts with common seating, I've spotted similar marks of ownership on both trays and utensils; the intent, of course, is to steer these items home to their proper stalls. In the case at hand, it's time for a new paint job; only because I'd seen the stall's Chinese name could I make out "Big Tray Chicken."
Saute Spicy Kitchen New World Mall food court, stall 23 136-20 Roosevelt Ave. (Main-Union Sts.), Flushing, Queens
"Chinese-style spaghetti" seems to denote a bed of pasta blanketed by various toppings. For this order, I've pulled back the blanket on sour and hot shredded potato noodles ($5.75), which I wish had been more sour and hot but whose noodles were undeniably fresh. Long, limber, and tangled, too: In the absence of chopsticks, it would have been hopeless to twirl them on a food-court plastic fork.
Yang Yang Noodle New York Food Court, stall 2 133-35 Roosevelt Ave. (Prince St.-College Point Blvd.), Flushing, Queens 646-591-1819
Over the past several summers Wooly's Ice, Ponji Juice Bar, and Snow & Tell introduced New York to snow ice. Though it often resembles shaved ice in variety and abundance of toppings, it's creamier, thanks to a base in which milk, water, and flavoring are frozen together.
At Snowdays, where the confection is called shaved cream, a half-dozen flavored bases can be combined with toppings and drizzles in bewildering variety. Above, "Got Seoul" ($9) combines black sesame and green tea shaved cream with red beans, almonds, mango, mochi, and condensed milk. Below, for a bespoke order, the shaved sweet-milk base is dressed with almond, waffle cone, and banana toppings plus salted caramel and condensed milk drizzles (about $7). A friend and I split the latter for dessert after a nearby dinner, but if you're willing to imagine a bowl of cereal just out of the deep freeze, it almost looks like breakfast.
Snowdays 37-20 Prince St. (37th-39th Aves.), Flushing, Queens 718-321-0500 241 East 10th St. (First-Second Aves.), Manhattan 212-982-8881 167 Seventh Ave. South (at Perry St.), Manhattan 917-388-2809 www.SnowdaysNYC.com
Green things abound at Qingdao, not only in cold appetizers and sizzling stir-fries but inside these bready "furnace buns," too. The name aside — and despite the abundance of baked snacks at this restaurant's streetside display — they appear to be pan-fried, or perhaps steam-fried like shui jian bao. The filling of chives (I believe) and pork was tasty enough, but the chewy-and-crispy texture of the buns themselves is their main attraction; they're traditionally served bottoms-up for good reason. Fast chopsticks get the best fringes.