A couple friends, Chris and Pilar, spent a year living and working in China during college. They developed quite a taste for the cuisine and are constantly searching out authentic Chinese restaurants around the city. They often venture to the far reaches of the boroughs to find the best meals and typically end up in super ethnically concentrated neighborhoods. For Chris's birthday, they got reservations for a large group of us in Flushing, Queens. I kid you not, stepping out of the subway station made me feel like I was in a different country.
If it hadn't been absolutely freezing out, it would have been fun to browse all the shops and their exotic wares. I think the neighborhood was extra festive for the upcoming Lunar New Year.
Our destination was the Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. We were some of the only non-Asians in the entire place. Isn't it weird when you feel like a tourist in your own city?
I really enjoy this shot. I was trying to capture the photo of President Obama in the middle, but everything else just sums up our experience too.
There was a little bit of train trouble for the birthday boy and crew, so us on-time party goers subsisted on hot tea (which I usually hate but it was so nice after coming in from the bitter cold), Tsingtao beer, and boiled peanuts for almost an hour.
The wait for food was well worth it though. Our guides ordered half the menu which we all shared on a huge lazy Susan in the middle of the table. There was a full fish in that center pan and my favorite dish was the 'accessories' around it. Those Chinese do amazing things with spices and nuts!
The aftermath of the meal. We made a mess and ate SOOO much. My hand was permanently cramped since I was forced to use my abysmal chopstick skills. We also drank an entire bottle of terrible Chinese rice wine, impressing our waitress to the point of saying "you good".
After dinner, the nine of us loaded on the 7 train where we were treated to an impromptu comedy show by an MTA worker sweeping the station. Most of his jokes are much too crude to be repeated here but he was hilarious. Although my favorite part was probably his on task co-worker who was muttering as he swept, "don't get paid to tell jokes." Pure. Gold.
We ended up at Dutch Kills in Long Island City for an after dinner drink. It was packed (I had a theory that every person in LIC was at that same bar on that night) but they had awesome cocktails. It would definitely be a fun place to go back with the girls, hopefully on a less crowded night.
As we left the bar to head back to Brooklyn, it was lightly snowing outside and the streets were quiet. It was a lovely end to our adventure in Queens. Happy birthday, Chris!