Picked up a few friends on Saturday and headed over to Flushing Chinatown, one of the largest Asian communities in Queens. Might even be greater in size than the most well known one in lower Manhattan even though that one has grown far beyond its Canal Street border and up into Little Italy.

Flushing doesn’t quite seem to have the character of NYC and you trade off the winding streets of a townlike atmosphere for the broad commercial boulevards and side streets of the typical Queens shopping area. But we didn’t go there to sightsee – we went for the food.

Our go-to place is Spicy & Tasty on Prince Street (there’s that NYC association again), an accidental find from a few years ago. Maybe about a dozen tables with a large round one in the back where the servers and owners can be seen cracking pea pods or stripping herbs off the tougher stalks. Mostly Asian families there with children on laps or held up onto shoulders as their young chattering parents pick up and feed them bits of food from their plates. It’s a huge menu with the familiar red pepper icon next to the spiciest dishes. Eight pages long in 10 point type adds up to hundreds of dishes numbered for easy identification down the left column. We head for our usual – eggplant in a pungent garlic sauce (hotpepper2), spicy shrimp and chewy peanuts (hotpepper2hotpepper2), twice shredded pork (which for some odd reason turned out to be stir fried strips of bacon), a lamb dish (which I didn’t eat since I’ve sworn off eating Bambi, Thumper, or and any other woodland creature from my imagination), and a plate of about a half dozen steamed dumplings with a sweetened seeded hot sauce (hotpepper2hotpepper2hotpepper2) on the side. Individual bowls of rice were on the table and we debated the cultural etiquette of placing the food on top of the heaps of rice to eat or just going for the usual and spooning it into our plates.

Afterwards a stop at Paris Baguette, for an incredible assortment of self-served French style pastries and strong coffee at surprisingly inexpensive prices. It’s also mostly an Asian clientele same as the management and staff. Although it’s an odd affectation that they wear these thin berets and striped shirts as if they were in some Disneyland version of Paris. A little bit of theatre, lots of sweet pastries with chocolate highlights, and no $4.00 cupcakes.

Although an iPhone could be seen here and there…

It’s Monday…how are you starting your day?

parisbaguetteParis Baguette – would be a daily morning stop for me…I’m so weak…