Food Court is a complete misnomer for this subterrianian mecca of Asian food. There’s no Orange Julius, Villa Pizza, Cinnabon, or Bourbon Chicken…this is 30+ stalls of the genuine article, the real deal. They cater to people who know their native food, and the bar is high.
The Deal: Located on the lower level of the New World Mall in downtown Flushing, mere steps from the 7 Train (Main St/Flushing), a mind-blowing selection of affordable Asian food served from 33 unique vendor stalls.
What To Do: You’ll certainly have an easier time if you speak some Mandarin, but the old “point, smile, and nod” technique works fine too. As with most authentic ethnic food vendors in NYC, you’ll be lucky if you get some form of broken English. Just remember that they are in business to serve food and make money. So even if they get frustrated with your lack of language skills when you order or ask questions (or if you get frustrated with their lack of English skills), remember that they really do want your business.
What To Get: In two visits, I didn’t even scratch the surface of what’s available, but I can give great reviews for “Ma La Tung” which is offered by several stalls, and involves your choice of meat and vegetables in a spicy stir fry with noodles. It sounds so basic, but I assure you it’s not. I ordered way too much, which worked out very well for 2 or 3 “leftover” lunches at home. I also had the xiao long bao, which are steamed dumplings that come in their own personal steamer (which you have to return of course), and I also had the hand pulled noodles with soup from a vendor in the far corner where you can see a man pulling, kneading, and slapping these home made noodles all day long.
When To Go: I’ve been there mid-afternoon both times (2:00 or so) and it was manageable. I’ve heard that weekends are a madhouse and nearly impossible to find a seat. Overall it’s a loud place, but it’s fairly well laid out and organized and cleaner than you might expect from a basement food court.
Where Is It? Best way to go is via the 7 Train, Main St/Flushing Stop. There’s also an LIRR station for Flushing that is two blocks away. Driving is congested, but there are some municipal parking lots close by. This is the main hub of Chinatown in Queens, it’s busy and bustling, and the chaotic pulse of the neighborhood actually adds to the experience. Most would argue that Flushing is the center of Asian food/shopping/culture in NYC, the New World Mall Food Court is a great place to immerse yourself in the area.