New World Mall…A Food Court That Puts Others To Shame
New World Mall
4012 Main Street
(enter from Main Street or Roosevelt Street)
Flushing, NY 11354
At first glance, New World Mall looks like any other modern shopping complex, a glassed-in structure similar to those you’d find in Manhattan’s Herald Square. But once inside, the insanity and cacophony that is any Chinese gathering hits you square in the face. This mall, in the heart of downtown Flushing, caters to the neighborhood’s burgeoning Chinese community, and while the goods hocked here are nothing special, the food court in the basement is a whole other story.
Unlike its predecessor Golden Mall, New World Mall is new, massive, and most importantly, clean. An escalator ride down to the basement reveals one of the most diverse and authentic Asian eating experiences in all of the city.
Here’s your fair warning though, and heed this before you make the trek here…this mall is an absolute zoo. Upon descending to the lower level, one of our tasters nearly had a nervous breakdown when blasted by the sensory overload that is the food court. The lights and sounds are those of China, bright and intense, with people everywhere. Even at the late hour of our visit, we were struck by how crowded the seating area was. While there are many stands to choose from, your table and chair options are much more limited. You’ll have to camp out for a bit to find a place to sit.
The mall houses some of the same food vendors you’ll find in Golden Mall, like Lan Zhou Hand Made Noodle, but this place benefits from the employ of women sweeping the floor and wiping down the tables. They hover over you like a dog over a baby, waiting for your food to drop so they can quickly sweep in and clean up after you. It’s a nice addition, especially with food so messy that your table resembles a scene from Animal House when you’re done.
The best approach is to scope out the place, find a few things you’re interested in tasting, then wait by a table for someone to get up. You’ll need a home base here, this is by no means finger food, and hovering about is not advisable.
Our first stop on our gluttony tour, Casserole. Big Bowl of Noodle. Yup, that’s actually the name of the place. Casserole. Big Bowl of Noodle specializes in dumplings, scallion pancakes and other fried and stuffed starters. Clearly this was the first logical stop on our hunt for appetizers.
The owner of the stand speaks quite a bit of English (one of the few in the mall), and was instrumental in walking us through the shop’s offerings, many of which are on display out front.
The chive and pork dumplings, while properly wrapped and flavorful, were unfortunately cold. Such was the fate of all food plucked directly from the display shelf. A word to the wise, have the restaurant make the food for you fresh. Otherwise it’s like purchasing a plate of leftover Chinese food.
The scallion pancake, which was made to order, took about 8 minutes to arrive, crisp and oozing from its time in the oil. It was also very flavorful, and covered on one side by fried egg. Dip it into the black vinegar for maximum effect, and be sure to raid the stand for napkins, your fingers will thank you.
Lan Zhou Hand Made Noodle, the popular stand in Golden Mall and Chinatown, here turns out the same stellar hand pulled noodles that put them on the map.
Buried beneath a rich and meaty broth, the noodles in this soup hold their own against the bounty of aromatics. The bowl was teaming with meltingly tender slices of beef, scallions, ginger and cilantro. While not exactly easy to eat in a mall setting, it did make for a filling and bone-warming meal.
The pork noodle bowl below layered many of the same ingredients found in the beef bowl, but included the additions of bok choy and two bobbing spare ribs. The meat from the ribs happily melted away and fell from the bones.
A view of Lan Zhou’s signature noodles, which are normally submerged below the surface.
Taiwan Market Foods specializes in roast and braised pork belly, grilled Chinese sausage and other savory plates.
Just a tad more intriguing than your average rotisserie, the oven here was stocked with massive slabs of golden, crisp pork belly. A specialty of Taiwan Market Foods, this can be found in various preparations throughout the menu.
Another use of pork belly here finds the chefs layering hunks of belly (braised to the point where the fat and meat meld into one buttery consistency), over top of steamed buns with pickled relish and chopped peanuts. Finished off with fresh cilantro, this dish was hot on the heals of David Chang’s famous pork belly sliders. The relish, while unexpected in Taiwanese cooking, added a nice acidic balance to the richness of the braising liquid.
Also on the menu at Taiwan Market Foods, Chinese sausage with raw garlic and dipping sauces. The concept here is to combine the sweetness of the sausage, which at times can be cloying, with the pungent bite of raw garlic, to create one harmonious mouthful. Common to Chinese sausage, the meat within the casing was roughly chopped, leaving big bits of pork beneath a perfectly snappy casing.
The group was divided on this dish, while I really enjoy it. Two sausages arrive per order, with a sambal-like dipping sauce, and a sweet and vinegary glaze to douse the meat in.
Another of the more popular stands in the food court, LaoMa MaLaTang, serves up massive hot pots and stir fries for groups to share, or individuals to devour.
Authentic ingredients such as half crabs, tripe and crawfish can be selected and tossed into your dish from the impressive and colorful display case. This stand is like a Chinese version of Chopped or Tossed, a salad bar for the far east. While you’re not likely to find chickpeas and cherry tomatoes here, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the flavor combinations the servers can put together for you.
A customer selecting her protein…crab, shrimp or beef.
The picture below doesn’t do this monstrosity justice. Just look at the chopsticks to the left, and you’ll get a sense of the enormous size of this bowl. This was easily enough food to feed 6-7 people.
Li’s Lanzhou Hand Stretched Noodles is another standout for fresh, hand pulled noodles in the mall.
It’s mesmerizing to watch these chefs effortlessly form balls of dough into thin strands of pasta. The key to the technique is in the chef’s finger and hand movement, though we’re not entirely sure how they flick an index finger and stretch their arms to create such perfect, glutinous threads.
Now, on to the glorious Snopo stand, in all its shaved ice splendor.
What exactly is a Snopo? Well feast your eyes on the masterpiece below. This mammoth mound of shaved ice comes in multiple flavors, with numerous powders and syrup toppings to choose from.
Here, we sampled the peanut butter Snopo, made of coconut shaved ice topped with peanut butter powder and a rich chocolate syrup. The spoon will give you a sense of scale for this desert, this particular Snopo was about 7 inches tall.
The consistency is somewhere between fresh fallen snow, and fluffy gelato. It’s lighter than your standard ice cream, but once in your mouth the snow compacts into a creamy and silky bite. God bless the creators of this concoction, it was a true crowd pleaser.
There are plenty of stands at New World Mall that haven’t been covered in this writeup. Rest assured, we’ll definitely be heading back for a second trip to check out some of the ones we missed.
So if you’re up for a wild experience, and you think you can handle the intensity of a subterranean, condensed Chinatown, a trip to New World Mall is definitely in order. The amazing diversity of Asian eats is well worth the trip, and a visit here will surely make for a memorable outing for you and all your adventurous friends.