Sam Kim’s car has no sign or marker signifying that it’s a cab. There’s no doodad inside keeping track of how far you’ve gone. And he may ask you to sit in the front depending on how many T.L.C. cops are on the streets that night. It sounds shady, but it’s a business that’s been around for decades and almost all the ethnic enclaves have their version of the undercover cab service. Dozens of Korean men like Sam choose to risk having their vehicles taken away, a day in court, and insane fines to work for these car services, most of which are based in Flushing.
New York City subway ridership annually exceeds 2.3 billion and out of all the subway lines, none give a better tour of Queens than the 7 line. It operates between Times Square, Manhattan and Main Street in Flushing, Queens. Along the way you’ll pass through multiple ethnic enclaves and get a perfect cross-section of one of the most diverse counties in the world.
Below are some notable stops, in order, that are worth checking out. Even if you can’t catch a professional tour, you’ll soon see why the 7 line has long been dubbed the “International Express”:
- Two good reasons to visit Flushing, Queens: The Flushing Town Hall’s Flushing-through-the-ages exhibit and a meal at New World Mall where you can sample Uighur food, which comes from an ethnic minority of Muslims from Xinjiang, a province in northwestern China. [The New York Times]
- SkyView Center, Flushing’s fledgling mall, is slowly playing catch-up by adding a Nike Factory Store and a Forever 21 to their growing list of stores. [The Queens Courier]
- Dumpling Galaxy on Main Street is a far cry from Ms. You’s original dumpling stand, but the flavor is still the same. [The New York Times]
- Free Synagogue of Flushing Community Theatre Group thoroughly delivers in their production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” [Times Ledger]
- Get your black goat meat on Ban Ga Ne and maybe celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently this year. [Chopsticks and Marrow]
Korean-Chinese cuisine is different from your standard Chinese takeout. It isn’t trying to fool anybody into believing that it’s authentic; instead, this cuisine is Korean-style Chinese food characterized by its rich noodle and spicy stir fry dishes. Flushing, Queens is known for its diversity and fusion cuisine and its Korean-Chinese options don’t disappoint.
F.E.E.D. or Flushing’s Everyday Eats, Damn! is a series that highlights different restaurants in Flushing, Queens. Today we’ll be visiting Chinese House Restaurant on Murray Hill. Known among Koreans as Joong Guk Jip, this restaurant serves Korean-Chinese cuisine. We’ll be eating jajangmyeon and jjampong and ending the night with a sweet treat.
Once you step off the 7 train, be sure to exit not from the staircases in the middle of the station but from the station’s entrance and you’ll find yourself on Roosevelt Avenue. No, you haven’t been magically transported to the streets of Hong Kong or Seoul. Like its food, energy, and noise, downtown Flushing’s shopping scene also seems to be straight out of an east Asian metropolis. Businesses are stacked on top of each other and the garish signage extends into the street.
According to the Visit Korea Committee survey, the items tourists most want to purchase when traveling to South Korea are beauty products. Roosevelt Avenue delivers the South Korean shopping experience without needing a passport. “[Downtown Flushing] is the only place where you can find all these [Korean] beauty brands clustered together,” said Susan An, an employee at Skin Food. “And because Korean culture seems to be so popular today, we’re getting a lot more traffic from people outside of Flushing looking to try out things they’ve never tried before.”
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park may be New York City’s second largest park but the lesser-known Kissena Park (164th St & Oak Ave Flushing, NY 11358) boasts breathtaking foliage, a lake perfect for fishing, playgrounds, and plenty of fitness facilities. Tucked away in Auburndale, Kissena Park is just a short Q34 bus ride away from Main Street. But once you step onto the tranquil, open grounds, it’s hard to believe that you’re even remotely close to the chaos and sensory overload of Downtown Flushing.
You’ve stepped off the last stop on the 7 line and somehow survived the crush of people. Somewhere amid the incomprehensible signage, blaring car horns, and businesses stacked four high, you need to find a place to get away from the rain and satisfy your hunger. Chances are anybody you ask will be able to direct you to the massive Flushing municipal parking lot and just across the street from it is Kimgane Restaurant (3912 Union St, Flushing, NY 11354).