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Dish no. 10, Big Tray Chicken from Stall #28 in the New World Mall food court (4021 Main Street, Queens)
Flushing’s storied New World Mall food court is a warren of stalls serving regional Chinese dishes; it’s common to spot newcomers wandering in a kind of daze through its embarrassment of riches. Stall #28, tucked in a corner with a video of Anthony Bourdain playing on a loop above the heads of the staff, has no English name, but Chinese characters reveal that the place serves specialties from Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province. Hand-pulled noodles are the star here, and they appear, after some digging, at the bottom of a dish of big tray chicken. As advertised, a massive aluminum tray holds tender pieces of chicken, potatoes, and those noodles, which soak up the rich brown sauce, flavored with beans, star anise, chiles, garlic, and cilantro. It tastes nothing like typical American-Chinese fare, and it’s a standout even in this enclave of good eating.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we’re traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They’re presented here as a countdown, but we’re listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what’s good to eat in this town right this very second.