Flushing, Queens, is known for its large population of Asian American immigrants and its Asian-influenced restaurants, boutiques, bakeries and shops. Although the locals of this community are predominantly of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Malaysian, the dining establishments spotting Main Street and its nearby avenues feature cuisines from all across the globe, in both casual and elegant settings. Here are 10 of the best restaurants in the area.
A few minutes’ walk away from Main Street, White Bear’s outwardly small, low-maintenance appearance is easily underestimated by passersby. However, they would be sadly mistaken in casting this hole in the wall aside so hastily, because White Bear happens to serve the best dumplings in the neighborhood. The verdant greens and delicately cooked meat come in light, feathery skins along with a dressing of chili oil, roasted chilies and pickled vegetables. Aside from the fabulous dumplings, White Bear’s extensive menu contains numerous classic Chinese dishes, including sesame rice balls, spicy wontons, fried bean curds, fried noodles, pickled cabbage, and fried rice cakes, all offered at outrageously low prices.
The intricately decorated Ganesh Temple, erected in a residential neighborhood in Flushing, doubles as a South Indian restaurant open to the public. The entryway features sculptures of the Hindu God Ganesh after whom the temple is named. Visitors will be led down a flight of stairs to the canteen, which is a wide-open space filled with the typical cafeteria-style folding tables and metal chairs. The famed masala dosa — made with rice flour and black lentils and filled with a potato curry, and the pondicherry masala dosa — tossed with potatoes, mustard seeds, cilantro, and green chilies, are both crowd favorites here. Each meal is accompanied by bowls of spicy coconut chutney and sambar, which is a flavorful, tamarind vegetable concoction and an integral part of traditional Tamil cuisine.
Deep-fried, stuffed bean custard, sautéed chicken, Cambodian noodle soup, and bitter melon over rice, all less than ten dollars per plate? Only in Flushing! Red Bowl Noodle Soup is a 24-hour establishment that draws in an eclectic crowd with its huge helpings and inviting atmosphere. With dark polished tabletops and warm red tones, Red Bowl’s aesthetically pleasing decor is a fine addition to the delectable cuisine and wide variety of options on offer. Not only are the seafood and meat options flawlessly prepared and served, but the noodle soups, congee (a broth or porridge made from rice) and vegetable and rice hot pots have all earned Red Bowl its distinguished reputation in the neighborhood.
Red Curry with Shrimp & Pineapple | Courtesy of BKNY Thai Restaurant
This Malaysian focuses on cooking and serving authentic, savory dishes rather than distracting customers with the frills of extravagant interior design. Curry Leaves’ heavenly home-style roti canai — an Indian flatbread native to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore — is baked to golden-brown perfection. Unlike most Asian restaurants throughout the city, the dessert menu here is extensive and offers delicacies such as peanut cake, durian and red bean ice, lychee juice, steamed jumbo shrimp and braised sea cucumber.
BKNY Thai’s goal is to bring Bangkok’s cuisine to New York City. The restaurant boasts a cozy and intimate setting, decorated with refreshing green plants and framed artwork lining the walls. Mixing sweet and sour flavors, BKNY is known for cooking up tasty entrées with exotic names, such as the pad ka prow, pad woon sen and pad prik khing, which share ingredients such as fresh chili peppers, basil leaves, crispy bell peppers, scallions and onions. Diners can choose to squeeze into a booth, eat comfortably at a table or stop by for an appetizer at the bar. Also, the lunchtime special offers generous portions for eight dollars, including a choice of jasmine brown rice with meat, vegetables and tofu and seafood for those popping in for a quick, nutritious bite to eat.
Hyderabadi Biryani and Chat, a restaurant named after the City of Pearls in Southern India, manages to transport diners across the globe with its expertly made chicken tikka biryani — a classic Mughlai meal consisting of cut, boneless chicken and steaming basmati rice. Onion, garlic, and buttery tandoori naans (an Indian bread) make a perfect accompaniment for the spicy kebab platters and vegetable curries featured on the menu. Specially prepared vegetable, lamb, fish and chicken lunch box combos, made conveniently for nearby workers to order and takeout on their lunch breaks, are also offered for six to ten dollars per box. To wash down the many spices and flavors inherent in every Hyderabadi dish, there is a choice of mango lassi, chai, fresh lemon juice and Madras coffee, along with the typical American soft drinks.
For steak lovers, Puerto Madero Steakhouse is a must-try neighborhood bar and grill that puts a cultural Argentinian twist on all your favorite classic meat dishes. Located in Downtown Flushing amidst countless Asian eateries, this steakhouse serves as a refreshing change of flavor from the usual fried rice and noodle dishes. The well-prepared, tender steak, served with a delicious buttery sauce, seems to be a crowd favorite at this joint; however, the flaky meat empanadas, fried calamari, lobster ravioli in wine sauce, linguini seafood, and grilled pork chops are heaven to a refined palate. Although the restaurant/bar has an upscale atmosphere, with white-clothed tabletops, dark polished seats, elegant décor and dimmed lighting, the dining experience is both comfortable and casual for those looking to wind down after a long, hard working day.
Famous across the city for its flawless crêpes, laden with scrumptious toppings of Nutella, sliced strawberries, chocolate chips, ice cream, bananas and whipped cream, Café Bench is Flushing’s go-to dessert spot. Sweet, buttery pancakes dripping with maple syrup and powdered sugar, banana bread sitting in ice cream with walnuts tossed in and chocolate syrup drizzled on top, and tartufo made with an almond center and topped with raspberries are only a few mouth-watering dessert options offered aside from the prized crêpes. For those not feeling quite so hungry, try the caramel macchiato, latte and iced house coffee or the various smoothies on offer.
This Chinese artisan bakery ensures that its breads, pastries and cakes are as equally faultless in taste as they are immaculate in appearance. Scalloped whipped cream and glistening fruits perch atop the chestnut, green tea, honeydew mousse, hazelnut, fruit taro and mango tofu cakes. Tai Pan Bakery specializes in holiday sweets, offering specially made baked goods on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and certain Chinese holidays. Although Tai Pan’s dessert and food menu seems never-ending, the egg tarts, which come in several flavors, are definitely the bakery’s main attraction. Located right on bustling Main Street, Tai Pan’s inexpensive price range, quick service, attentive staff and wide array of buns, moon cakes, pot pies, sandwiches, teas and custards make it one of Queens’s favorite Asian bakeries.
This food sensation is another one of Flushing’s many casual dining, hole-in-the-wall joints. Although it is a fast food service, and visitors can either choose to pay at the register and stay or order take-out in Styrofoam trays, the authentic Middle Eastern flavors inherent in Bakhter Halal Kabab’s combos are absolutely irreplaceable. The menu is primarily composed of lamb, beef and chicken kababs or gyro choices, served with perfectly seasoned brown rice, green peppers, onions and flavorful green and white sauces. However, it also offers American fast food favorites, such as chicken nuggets, French fries, chicken and fish sandwiches and burgers, for those nervous about venturing into the land of exotic foods. All in all, this is the ideal spot to pop in to for a quick plate of Middle Eastern and Pakistani cuisine.