What an experience.
The Golden Shopping Mall — a labyrinthine bazaar of food stalls, beauty salons, and random other shops — harbors a multitude of unsolved mysteries for all those — like myself — not fluent in Chinese languages. When I photographed Anthony Bordain and Eric Ripert there a couple years ago for Edible Queens Magazine, I didn't get to sample the hand-pulled noodles offered at a few different stalls. So when one cool April evening a few weeks ago I found myself on the Long Island Expressway after photographing a student fashion show at Queens College — it was high time to try those noodles.
Signs are in Chinese. Only a few offer brief English. I wandered around and failed to find the section where I was before — I think I entered upstairs instead of downstairs. But I came to a tiny shop with a plastic sign imprinted with six Chinese characters plus three words in English.
“Lamb noodle soup” was written on a strip of orange tape and affixed to the sign. Not knowing whether these noodles would be “hand-pulled” or not (and despite my usual reluctance to eat meat from unrecommended restaurants), at this point I didn’t care: it was late, I was tired and hungry, and I had lots to do at home because I was heading to Italy the next day.
“What size? Small or large?” asked the petite woman behind the counter. “What’s the difference,” I asked. She showed me a plastic dish containing a stack of wide and fat noodle noodle strips and answered, “Large comes with two, small comes with one.” “Large,” I said.
A lot to watch.
The soup man took two noodles from the container and began to stretch them out — longer and longer. But I was distracted by the lamb man and missed how soup man turned those strips into many more thinner noodles. Oops!
In my defense, it happened fast. And really, lamb man’s business was just as interesting.
On the counter were three large clear plastic bags of bones, each with a thin strip of red meat attached. Does this “Lamb noodle soup” restaurant purchase bones from some other restaurant after it has trimmed off the larger cut? I believe it does.
Lamb man has a cutting board behind the counter and, one-by-one, he picks up a piece and turns it around and around, rotating it in three dimensions and bending it at its joint to figure out how to cut. He’s like an orthopedic surgeon.
Over and over I watch as he picks up pieces, pinpoints the joints, double-checks to be sure he’s got it right, cuts, and then checks again prior to his next incision.
There’s a beautiful plastic sign centered along one of interior walls. It features several rows of Chinese characters. Do they serve other things besides lamb noodle soup? Not sure. Maybe.
I was dying to take photos but they said no when I asked.
A guy through the window — beauty salon just beyond him across the corridor — chain smoked throughout my visit. NYC law: smoking not permitted indoors. Flushing Mall is off the radar.
I paid $5, and 25 minutes later I arrived home. It was still hot. And delicious! I was too busy packing for the Italy trip to take notes. So go there, find the sign pictured above, order a bowl, and watch the action.
[I used an iPhone to take the above photo. At first I waited for the smoker to finish his cigarette and leave, but he lit another right away, so I snapped a quick shot, turned around, and left.]
Map the Golden Shopping Mall.