Food at Dragon Boat Festival in Flushing Meadows Mildly Disappointing


Dragon Boat afloat in Flushing Meadows Pond.

I went expecting to find a food scene something like the Red Hook soccer fields or the Labor Day parade in Brooklyn, and indeed there were tents, pavilions, and penants galore at the north end of the lake, like some medieval jousting match. Most of the tents were sponsored by service organizations, electrical utilities, insurance companies, etc., and the majority of these featured games of chance, causing long lines in the hot sun as event-goers waited patiently to spin the wheel of fortune, for prizes displayed on tables.

One booth offered Burmese fare: noodles with meat sauce on the left, pickled garlic bulbs in the center, and chicken curry on the right.

A Burmese booth had the best chow, a choice of rice noodles with meat sauce and crushed peanuts decorated with a few fronds of cilantro, or a coconut chicken curry poured over coconut rice. A combo of the two cost $8, and you could also have some spicy garlic-bulb pickle added to your Styrofoam container if you saw it on the counter and asked for it.

Glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaves.

One stall represented a bakery and had wedges of sponge cake, chicken wings, lo mein, a couple more noodle dishes, and the lotus-leaf-wrapped glutinous rice package known as lo mai gai. The chicken wings were excellent, if a bit leathery.

Curried fish ball stall.

Another worthy snack was provided by a stall devoted entirely to curried fish balls on a stick ($2, twice the price of the same snack in downtown Flushing). I appreciated the culinary micro-focusing. There was another stall selling shaved ices and bubble teas, and a few Mister Softee trucks parked strategically here and there.

Beans and syrup being applied to a serving of shaved ice.

Next: The rest of the food …


But the rest of the food was mainly limited to a few gluey dumplings, grilled corn on the cob, chicken breast shish kebabs, and — odd man out — fried chicken with french fries. Oh, and 7-Eleven was giving away free tiny chicken wings that had a slimy interior texture, but proved quite incendiary.

In addition to sponge cake, the bakery provided wings.

Whoever is sponsoring this festival is missing a beat. Part of the problem is that all the boat teams have their own pavilions with dining setups east of the pond, generally featuring barbecued items of a rather pedestrian nature (hot dogs, parboiled chicken, etc.). Advice to those going on Sunday: Pack in your own eats.

One of the dragon boat clubs.

Most tents offered games of chance rather than eats.

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