It's a little daunting at first attempting to choose - let alone order - anything, so I recommend that you walk around all the stalls first as well as what other people are eating to get a feel for the place. Unfortunately, the first time I came to this place I did exactly that, and I was so overwhelmed that I got a bubble tea and went home!
This time, thanks to our knowledgeable friends who knows the difference between one spicy stir-fry and the other a couple of stalls down, we were able to experience a bite of Chinatown's finest underground gourmet grub-foods.
For starters, we got the authentic Beijing-style yogurt. Although it's not as dense as its ancestor, I like this more liquidy version better. It's creamy, not to sweet, a little sour, and goes down smoothly. Ironically, this can be found in a Xi-an food booth (not remotely close to Beijing).
I really wanted to try the large ma-la (dumbingly-spicy) wooden bowls that everyone else was ordering - it's like the size of a small washing basin, except filled with seafood and vegetables of your choice, and then drenched in red hot spices. But our friends said that it wasn't really good, and darn spicy. They recommended the seafood with veggies stir-fried with special in-house mala sauce.
It came with a serving of rice and some plain vegetable broth, which complemented the mild spiciness nicely. This dish actually has a lot of lamb alongside to the seafood, which makes it really worth the price of $6.50. And with this serving size, it could probably last me for 3 days.
I ordered the Fish Mala a couple of stalls over, again with mild spiciness. But it came out much spicier than I imagined. I actually enjoyed the numbing sensation (though my face though - a little pimple broke out right after the meal). It's vermicelli rice noodles with bak choy, seaweed, and tofu at the bottom, topped with a hefty layer of sliced fish and wood-ear mushrooms. Absolutely delicious if you can take the spice and worth the price of $8. It doesn't come with other rice or soup like the others, but you probably wouldn't need it.
Then we ordered some xiao-long bao (6 for $7) at a Shanghai place. I think this one here might just trump the one in Chinatown...
Last but not least was our centerpiece - the Xinjiang style potato chicken mala.
Xinjiang Potato and Chicken Mala
Perhaps I'm just being partial to potatoes, but it was nice and chewy...absolutely divine! Our Chinese grub-food connoisseur ate most of this dish, and even he had to pick out the spicy red peppers.
The chicken, much to my surprise, was tender and marinated to really absorb all the flavour. Every bite was a like a dance in your mouth, and the best part was that it doesn't leave an awful spicy aftertaste. This dish came with a side of hand-pulled noodles with a few sprouts of bak choy. The noodles were uber al dente, and you can really taste its fresh, hand-made texture.
So here it is - our Flushing feast!