Come February 19, many in New York’s East and Southeast Asian communities will celebrate the beginning of a new year with ceremonies, parades, and performances lasting throughout the weekend. 2015 is the year of the goat, an animal that, according to Chinese astrology, is kind and peace-loving. To further ensure twelve months of good fortune, there are several foods that, when eaten during the holiday, are believed to bring luck, prosperity, and longevity. Flushing is home to one of NYC’s largest Chinese-American populations, not to mention an overwhelming range of eateries, from basement food stalls to dim sum palaces, where you can sample these dishes. Here are ten bites to brighten your chances for the new year, and where to find them.
10 and 9. Dumplings from Dumpling Galaxy (42-35 Main Street, Flushing, 212-518-3265) and Tianjin Dumpling House (41-28 Main Street, Flushing) Jiao zi dumplings resemble silver ingots, an ancient form of Chinese currency, so eating them is said to bring luck in money matters. According to one tradition, the more dumplings you eat, the larger your bank account will grow, so head to Dumpling Galaxy in the new Arcadia Mall, where chef-owner Helen You serves 100 delicious varieties. Or check out her original spot, Tianjin Dumpling House, in the basement of the Golden Shopping Mall, if you want to go food stall–hopping. The lamb and green squash — twelve for $6 — are soupy and savory, the thin skins giving way to deep flavor. Also excellent are the pork with pickled vegetables, which offer a piquant counterpoint to the meat.
8 and 7. Noodles from Lanzhou Handmade Noodle (4021 Main Street, Flushing) and Xi’an Famous Foods (41-28 Main Street, Flushing) The longer the noodle, it is believed, the longer your life. Uncut “longevity” noodles are especially popular during the new-year season, either stir-fried or boiled in soup. At Lanzhou Handmade Noodle in the New World Mall food court, staff pull mounds of dough into long strands with mesmerizing speed and apparent ease. The noodles form nests in bowls of soup and come with your choice of protein; the beef is classic, but there’s also oxtail, mutton, and pig intestine. In the Golden Shopping Mall stall that launched the Xi’an Famous Foods empire, the hand-ripped noodles may not be quite as long, but they’re worth shaving a few years off your life for. The liang pi, wide, chewy noodles with wheat gluten that soaks up a spicy sauce, stand up easily to all the hype.
6 and 5. Fish from Fu Run (40-09 Prince Street, Flushing, 718-321-1363) and Wan Chai Seafood (135-11 40th Road, Flushing, 718-888-7770) The Chinese word for fish, yu, also sounds like the word meaning surplus, so whole fish is another wealth-conjuring New Year’s dish. Leave a little behind when you eat, to invite continuing abundance throughout the year. Traditionally, fish is steamed for holiday meals, but why not be unconventional? At Fu Run, which specializes in the cuisine of the northeastern region of Dongbei, lamb is the star. But their take on fried fish, served whole in a sauce made from hot bean paste, is just as worthy of attention. Wan Chai Seafood, on the other hand, a new Cantonese spot, serves ultra-fresh fish in a vast banquet hall space — try snapper steamed with ginger and scallions.
4. Turnip cake from Asian Jewels Seafood (133-30 39th Avenue, Flushing, 718-359-8600) This dim sum emporium delivers plenty of jewels from its carts on weekend mornings, from shrimp shumai to durian puffs. But during Lunar New Year celebrations, make sure you try the turnip cake. The dish’s name is a homophone for good fortune; at Asian Jewels, it’s fried and generously seasoned, resulting in a salty, crisp outside that yields to a moist and chewy interior.
3. Sweets from Tai Pan Bakery (37-25 Main Street, Flushing, 718-461-8668) Grab a tray at this bright and inviting spot, and load it up with fresh pastries for a sweet new year; ask the friendly staff behind the counter to help you make a selection if you’re overwhelmed by the options. Try a pineapple bun (so named for its appearance), since the fruit brings wealth, or a taro bun, which has a mellow, starchy sweetness that’s welcome after a filling food crawl. Or split a coconut cream–filled dessert with a significant other, as the coconut is thought to promote togetherness.
2. Fruit from Hong Kong Supermarket (37-11 Main Street, Flushing, 718-539-6868) Spacious and easily navigable, Hong Kong Supermarket has a solid produce section that includes rarities like Buddha’s hand, a citrus fruit with gnarled segments that’s used mostly for its scent. But go for the tangerines and oranges, whose fullness and golden hue signify prosperity. You’ll also find the equally lucky pomelo, an ancestor of the grapefruit, which should be segmented and shared with loved ones during the Lunar New Year.
1. Goat dishes from Bangane (165-19 Northern Boulevard, Flushing, 718-762-2799) OK, it isn’t a traditional new-year food, and a visit to Bangane necessitates boarding the LIRR, but what better way to ring in the year of the goat than by consuming it in mass quantities at this Korean restaurant? The goat served here comes straight from the owners’ farm, and appears in a number of iterations — shredded into ssam, for instance, in a stew, or in fried rice. Try all three by ordering the prix fixe goat feast — perhaps you’ll absorb some of the animal’s loving and peaceable nature.