In an attempt to take advantage of some of the last days of nice weather before NYC winter (read: windchill) sets in, we decided to keep it local and bike out to Flushing, Queens. I'll have to say the ride was much more pleasant than the subway ride on the 7 "International Express" train. I do heart you 7 train, and you are a landmark, but I ride you every day, and the trip out to the end of the line in Flushing always seems long and crowded. Although I wouldn't recommend riding bikes as we did in the very cluttered Flushing Chinatown area which was challenging to navigate amid the throngs of busy pedestrians clogging the sidewalks. Interestingly, I noticed we received many comments and curious stares as (non-delivery person) bicyclists are not such a common sight in these parts, compared to northwest Qns, Hipsterville Brooklyn and Manhattan where nobody bats an eye. Our little one in her Co-Pilot toddler seat was also a big hit with passers-by who kept on waving and talking to her and apparently weren't used to seeing a kid hitching a ride on the back of a bike.
By the time we got to Corona, we realized we were already famished and wanted lunch, but I am not so familiar with the area, although I occasionally run across some recommended places. [Note to Self: I need to start some file for this kind of thing to store away and access when needed.] A quick perusal of the NYC Bicyclists Map and we realized we were only about 10 min. away from Chinatown where there are dozens of decent food options on every block. Hurrah! So we got back on the road, heading toward one of our favorite destinations I mentioned here in a previous post, but then along the way, we got sidetracked as I spotted Ramen Hakata that looked enticing. Consulting the menu hanging in the window, we saw it was also very reasonably-priced. I learned later when I looked it up that it doesn't seem to very highly-rated on Yelp, but we were quite pleased.
RR got the bento box with salmon teriyaki, which was well-prepared and flavorful, but not filling enough, especially when you have a hungry toddler who decided she loved it and wolfed down most of the already humble portion. Not the best selection of other items in the bento, so if you go, I would say it's better to stick to the soups. We ended up ordering a second salmon teriyaki bowl, mainly for the little one. Looking around, the almost exclusively Asian customers were enjoying interesting, colorful looking dishes and as always, I wished I could try a bite of everything on the menu. I guess we'll just have to return. And I've been craving Ramen ever since I had it, especially with the rainy weather we've been having. Or more likely, we'll pick another place to try next time . . .
Next door, there was a quirky cafe serving bubble teas and selling collectible Japanese toys. Little M of course dashed in. We had to avert concerned looks from the nerdy bespeckled guys behind the counter and remain vigilent, "No, don't touch, only look . . ." Needless to say, we didn't feel very welcome, so decided to head on.
Hopping back on our bikes, in search of some ice cream, we went in search of the Flushing branch of the famous Chinatown Ice Cream Factory I've mentioned in a previous post. We had been there before, but not for several years, as it was not centrally-located and I remember having to foot it and then take a bus to get there from the subway stop. Probably not the smartest location. It showed up on the map on RR's Blackberry, but as we hit the location, then circled back a few times searching, it was nowhere in sight. After asking a few people milling around, we realized it had closed down and maybe for good reason judging by the disparaging Yelp comments about melting freezer-burned product and even insinuations that maybe it was even bootleg. Wha?! Now in its place was the promising and more authentic-looking Dessert Bar so we decided to give it a go.
Full of fruit slushies and jelly, we hopped back on to head to the large park in the area, Flushing Meadows Corona, the site of the huge globe structure called the Unisphere, apparently the biggest globe in the world and even has its own website.
note, this park was a former "dumping ground labelled a 'valley of ashes' by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 'The Great Gatsby'" and also the the site of the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair. Among many other things, it encompasses Citi Field, a Hall of Science, Queens Museum of Art, a lake and many odd decaying metal structures from former fair pavilions, which really remind me of something you would find in the former Soviet Union.
Apologies this is a departure from food-related talk, but I thought it was interesting. We also managed to visit the petting zoo at Queens Zoo where Little M kept busy feeding the animals small pellets of food - one. pellet. at. a. time.
In the same area, we rode a really cool old carousal - little M's first! Although she immediately saddled right up, choosing her horse, she cried a bit at the beginning when it started to move fast, but eventually got into the groove.
Butcher's Block (in Sunnyside) I had marinated earlier and roast potatoes (LOVE the convection roast feature on my Bosch oven) and sauteed garlicky greens from our CSA box.