New York Food Court in Flushing Is One of the City’s Best Food Halls

New York Food Court in Flushing Is One of the City’s Best Food Halls

The name tells you nothing, not even its location: New York Food Court could refer to any food hall in the five boroughs, but it’s located in Flushing, Queens, at 133-35 Roosevelt Avenue, west of Prince Street, and two avenues downhill from its more famous competitor, the basement food court of the New World Mall. The food court is made up of around two dozen stalls, mostly Chinese and Taiwanese businesses whose prices are affordable and whose menus are only sometimes translated into English.

A brightly lit food hall with stalls on either side and tables in the middle.

Which of the 22 stalls would you choose?

Though it opened in 2014, the New York Food Court has gone largely unrecognized, even as newer food halls, including the vastly inferior one at the new Tangram mall, have turned heads. We descended on the food court this week and ordered from each of the stalls. Bowls of colorful noodle soup and sizzling steaks overflowed from a central table, and picking at them, we each chose five dishes that we thought made this food court stand out. The verdict? New York Food Court is a contender for the best food hall in the city.

As workers around us tied zongzi with twine, and stuffed Squirtles beckoned to be rescued from claw machines, we dug in, dabbing away sweat beads from our brows since much of the food was quite spicy.

Sour spicy shrimp rice noodle at Da Wan

The first stall on the left when you walk into the food court is Da Wan, with a menu that lists barbecued skewers, noodles with kimchi, and maocai, a style of hot pot prepared in individual portions that originated in Chengdu. Just about everything costs $9.99, and after asking an employee for a recommendation via Google Translate, I was directed to a section of the menu labeled “sour spicy soup.” I ordered one with shrimp, and about ten minutes later out it came bobbing with a half-dozen whole shrimp, fish cakes, tofu skin, quail eggs, corn kernels, and a whole lot more hiding in the depths. It was an early lesson that the New York Food Court is a place of good soup. — Luke Fortney, reporter

Customers stand at the counter of a food stall in Flushing, Queens, and consider the options.

Da Wan is first up on the left.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

A hand with dry cuticles dips a white plastic spoon into a yellow broth with shrimp and quail eggs.

Beyond these dry cuticles, spicy broth packed with ingredients awaits.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Taiwan-style steak at 8090 Taiwan

Robert crowned this sizzling platter of steak, eggs, and noodles the worst dish of the day, but I’m a sucker for combination plates, and this Taiwan-style steak ($25) scratched several cravings at once. Steak comes medium rare with the choice of mushroom sauce or a more popular black pepper one; order the latter at the counter and hand over a $5 deposit to be collected at the end after returning your silverware and wooden tray. The platter is dropped on a side counter, announcing itself like a plate of fajitas. To Robert’s credit, he found the steak too tough, and to me the steak sauce was sweeter than I remembered, but it’s straightforward, satisfying fare — and easy to understand why people line up to order it. — LF

Customers consider the options listed on a digital display at 8090 Taiwain in the New York Food Court.

8090 Taiwan is one of the busiest stalls in the building.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

A hand wielding a fork and knife cuts at a tough steak on a bed of noodles.

Taiwan-style steak comes with corn, eggs, and noodles.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Lamb burger at Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles

My palate was shot less than half an hour after stepping foot into this Flushing food court: Too many Sichuan peppercorns and red chiles led me to order a lamb burger ($7) from this food stall named for its noodle soups with lamb and fish balls. (Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles is not to be confused with Lanzhou Handmade Noodle in the underground food court of the New World Mall.) The outer bun was crisp from toasting, and hiding inside was a generous scoop of lamb meat, tender and tasting strongly of cumin. Credit where credit is due: This is the only dish of the day that I finished in its entirety. — LF

A digital menu lists various menu items in Chinese and English.

Lanzhou Hand Pull Noodles also makes barbecued skewers.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

A hand clutches a crisp burger filled with tender cumin lamb.

A lamb burger.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Chinese sausage, tripe, and more at Taipei Hong

Step up to the sneeze guard of Taipei Hong, and pick from a range of ingredients that include prickly pieces of tripe, plump Taiwanese sausage, fatty beef, and a wide variety of fresh-looking vegetables that I mostly ignored. Ingredients are thrown into a metal bowl, priced by weight, and then tossed into a skillet in the back and prepared at spicy levels ranging from “two drops” to “very spicy.” (Meats and seafood are priced indiscriminately by the pound, while vegetables are priced weighed separately.) Three minutes later, out came this takeout container ($16) with crunchy lotus root and hot dogs cut in the shape of octopi. Side cups of white rice are free. — LF

A gloved hand grabs at Chinese sausage, rolled meat, and hot dogs.

Choose from a handful of meats and seafoods at Taipei Hong.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

A hand holds a cup of white rice with a hot dog cut to look like an octopus.

Hot dogs or octopus legs?
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Spicy fish head at Ke Zaoqin

Ke Zaoqin, the name of this business supplied by Google Translate, is located furthest back in the food court, but it’s a line drive from the front door and the first stall you’d likely see when you step inside. Seafood is the specialty here, and the small herd of buffalofish swimming in the gray waters of the display tank called my name. An order of spicy fish head is served in an oversized aluminum tray that would have felt right at home at a backyard cookout. (The medium size, pictured here, is $25. I can’t imagine the occasion for one, but a large order is available for $10 more.) A full head, plus slabs of collar meat, are covered in a blanket of vinegary red chiles and scallions; I brushed them aside and picked through bones to reach the main event of any whole fish prepared in this fashion: Saline eyeballs the size of quail eggs. — LF

Customers stand at the counter of a restaurant whose name and menu items are listed in Chinese.

Live fish hover in the display tank at Ke Zaoqin.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

A fish head and collar bones are served in aluminum tray.

A tray of spicy fish head with collar meat.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Hot and spicy fish noodles at Grains Fish Noodle

This stall micro-focuses on Hunan fish noodles. Hunan food has a reputation as being hotter than Sichuan, and this very filling bowl of noodles ($13) proves it, quite deliciously. There are swatches of fish and a dozen other ingredients, including pickled mustard greens and tofu, in a chile-laced broth, while a wad of relish something like a concentrated sriracha rides atop. Lo and behold, when you plunge into the depths, there are three kinds of noodles ranging from off-white to deep brown, the latter one made with buckwheat. — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A food court stall with little tiny pictures and menus aligned everywhere.

Grains is a Hunan stall.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A deep red broth with white swatches of fish.

Hot and spicy fish noodles must be one of the world’s spiciest dishes.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Special cold noodles at Mr. Zhang Noodles

Like many food courts throughout Flushing (where there are perhaps 10 of varying size), Zhang specializes in Sichuan food from a working class noodle perspective, quite different than the menu at places like nearby Szechuan Mountain House. This dish ($8) is a cognate of the sesame noodles more often seen here, firm wheat noodles slicked with chile oil and heaped with crunchy cukes, the perfect cooling antidote to the spicy hot soups that fill half the menus in NYFC. — RS

Another food court stall with two murky figures visible inside.

Mr. Zhang is a Sichuan stall.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A nest of red slicked noodles.

Special cold noodle at Mr. Zhang.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Curry beef gokui at Fat Cat Flatbread

We were all forlorn when Crop Circle closed on MacDougal Street, at the time seemingly the only place in town to serve this stuffed flatbread that originated in Shaanxi, but is equally popular in Henan and Sichuan. While Crop Circle offered only a few choices, Fat Cat bakes up 10, which are the size of a car tire skid mark. I picked curry beef, but other interesting choices included black milk tea and salted egg yolk with pork floss. — RS

A man stands behind a counter with a delivery guy facing him.

Fat Cat Flatbread makes 10 kinds of gokui.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A flatbread studded with black and white sesame seeds.

The curry beef gokui arrives folded over and still warm.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Shepherd’s purse fresh meat wonton at Diverse Dim Sum

You may have difficulty spotting the English name of this Shanghai stall (#12) with some fascinating offerings. One is a wonton soup ($7) made with gigantic, lamb-stuffed dumplings in the shepherd’s purse style native to Jiangsu Province north of Shanghai. Every bite is a delight, and the dark broth is filled out with omelet strips and feathery gobs of seaweed. — RS

A stall with lit signs all ideograms, with no English lettering, and a bald man stands inside.

Diverse Dim Sum, Stall #12
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

A bowl of soup with a spoon holding up a dumpling and more underneath.

Shepherd’s purse fresh meat wontons.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taishan stewed chicken at Gao Ba Dou

The biggest surprise of the afternoon was when I ordered Taishan stewed chicken, name-checking a coastal Guangdong county just west of Macau. The picture had shown a modest serving of stewed chicken, but when the dish ($10) arrived, it was a full meal with several lip-smacking elements. There was the soy-braised chicken itself, and generous helpings of baby bok choy, pickled daikon, a thin soup with a section of corncob in its depths, and pork-scallion fried rice. What a great meal! — RS

A food court counter with a few ideograms overhead on a red sign.

Gao Ba Dou specializes in regional food from Guangdong
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Several square green bowls with chicken, vegetable, soup, and green fried rice.

Taishan stewed chicken at Gao Ba Dou.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Peach oolong gelato at La Mira Gelateria

An honorable mention is in order for La Mira Gelateria, which opened next door to the food court last fall but has a window inside the food court for ordering wheel pies, waffles, and other desserts. The main event here seems to be the scoops of gelato that are named after emotional springtime creatures. Happy bear, chirpy chick, little piggy, and lonely panda are all part of the family, but this time and last I took home behaved bunny, who had stale marshmallows for ears and a sphere of peach oolong gelato for a body. It tasted a lot like strawberry ice cream. — LF

A hand holds a plastic cup with a scoop of ice cream shaped like a bunny.

A scoop of peach oolong gelato.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY