The neighborhood of Flushing in Queens, New York, has a population comprised two-thirds of Asian origin. While many immigrants (predominantly Chinese, Taiwanese, and Korean) call Flushing home, it’s a destination spot for New Yorkers to enjoy international cuisine and shop for wares. In the heart of Queens’s Chinatown is New World Mall, a three-story indoor shopping center known for retail shops, restaurants, event venue, a sprawling grocery store called J-Mart, and of the popular sub-level food court. The food court has 32 separate operating stalls, each with their own unique cuisine and extensive offerings. During peak lunch and dinner hours, visitors and residents alike bustle amongst the wide range of choices for a quick, affordable meal. I have been pescatarian for almost two years, and as someone who holds Chinese cuisine close to my heart, I am featuring standout dishes that are vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian.
Stall #8 Dae Jang Guem
King Trumpet Mushroom skewers (vegan) – $1.50 per skewer
A popular Northern Chinese street food item, especially iconic to Beijing, the skewers are seasoned with a blend of coarsely ground cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and Sichuan peppercorns. On the city streets, the spice blend varies from stand to stand, but one element is certain—it is spicy!
Stall #9 Sichuan Cuisine Inc.
Mapo Tofu (vegan) – $6.75
Traditionally served with a side of white rice, Mapo tofu is a classic that usually contains ground pork. Most kitchens are accustomed to preparing the popular item for vegetarians. If you are feeling confident and want to practice your Mandarin, ask for Mapo Tofu “méi yǒu ròu” (no meat). The perfect bite is a blend of soft silken tofu, hot numbing chili oil, garlic, and a heaping scoop of white rice and diced scallions on a spoon. The menu of stall #9 includes sautéed water spinach, another vegan-friendly favorite of mine.
Stall #15 Lanzhou Handmade Noodle
Vegetable Noodle Soup (vegetarian) – $6
Diners can witness the rolling and pulling of noodles before their eyes. This stand is clearly popular, proven by the chef’s steady pace stretching noodle dough. This dish is vegetarian, as the dough mix includes egg. Included is a soy sauce egg, bok choy, wood ear mushrooms, tomatoes, and a hearty vegetable five-spice broth.
Stall #16 Laoma Malatang
Dry pot – (vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian)
$8.95 / lb vegetables
$14.82 / lb seafood
Dry pot is a style of dining originating from Chengdu, China. Its better known relative, hot pot is a communal and festive type of savory, aromatic fondue. At Laoma Malatang, the diner may choose from a spread of ingredients. The cashier weighs the diner’s selection, and the kitchen prepares it with a specialty blend of dry pot spices. Pictured: Enoki mushrooms, cabbage, kelp, cauliflower, deep fried tofu, regular tofu, octopus, soft shell crab, cilantro, garlic. For a vegan dry pot, simply pick out your favorite vegetables.
Stall #18 Eight Beautitudes Korean Restaurant
Japchae with Rice – $7 (vegan)
My favorite Korean dish, Japchae is sweet potato starch noodles and a mix of vegetables. The perfect Japchae is a little tangy, salty, with a slight char flavor from sautéing at a high heat. Pictured: Japchae with scallions, white onions, carrots, wood ear mushrooms.
Stall #19 Chong Qing Noodle
Boiled Fish in Hot Oil – (Pescatarian) $10
A darling dish of China, the popularity of “shuǐ zhǔ yú” has been on the rise in Western kitchens. It is prepared with a breed of white fish, typically carp, basa, or tilapia. Under a floating layer of hot peppers, there is perfectly poached filets of fish, Chinese celery, Napa cabbage, bean sprouts, garlic, ground Sichuan peppercorns, and a heaping pile of cilantro. Stall #19 chooses to serve “shuǐ zhǔ yú” in an aesthetically pleasing steel mini wok.
Stall #L25 The Old Captain Fish Dumplings
Egg and Chive Dumplings (Vegetarian) – $6 for 8 pieces
Behind a glass pane, the chefs meticulously prepare tray after tray of dough and dumpling fillings by hand. Pictured is the vegetarian Egg and Chive dumplings, with a complementary side of spicy pickled cabbage. Recommended dipping sauce is a self-prepared mixture of soy sauce, chinkiang vinegar, minced garlic, sesame oil, and scallions.
New World Mall is located at 136-20 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354. For public transit, take the 7 train to its final stop in Queens.