39-07 Prince Street, Flushing, Queens
â™¥ â™¥ â™¥
The pain didn’t take effect until five minutes into our meal. When I say pain, I’m talking about our tongues going numb, beads of sweat starting to dot our foreheads, a ringing sensation behind our ears and ooze starting to form in our small noses. All were good pain, mind you, and even as they got worse, we kept eating. If you like your Sichuan Chinese food, you know what I’m talking about and if you venture to Flushing, Queens, then you know that spicy and tasty are enough adjectives to describe the Spicy & Tasty buffet.
We were in Queens to check out the panorama of the City of New York in the Queens Museum. We hardly take the number 7 train so when we found ourselves in the city’s largest borough, the most ethnically diverse county in the entire United States, we decided to continue on to Flushing and look for a late afternoon meal. We’re not familiar with the neighborhood at all so we stopped by Duane Reade to steal a glance inside one of the city magazines. Unfortunately, there was always one restaurant listed under Queens, but luckily, Spicy & Tasty was the one selected by The New Yorker. The restaurant was only an avenue away from the subway so we took the quick hike, feeling very determined to eat spicy Chinese food.
The Dr. grew up in Los Angeles and if he misses a cuisine more than Korean, it would be Sichuan Chinese. We have several Shanghainese Chinese restaurants in New York, but only a few good Sichuan places. He would recall to me trips to Monterey Park eating spicy dish after spicy dish flavored by fagara peppercorns. In fact, the last time I went to Los Angeles without him, I went to his favorite Sichuan restaurant and finally understood why a good sweat is sometimes appeciated and even necessary. To my delight, his eyes lit up as soon as we walked in Spicy & Tasty. He wanted to order everything behind the glass. We pointed and picked three dishes and added a soup and a bowl of dan dan noodles to our bill from our table.
The culprits were the spicy root vegetable, the crispy tendon salad and the dan dan noodles. We took turns picking the pieces with our chopsticks, blowing through our tongues and stuffing our mouths with the smoked tofu and celery to ease away the numbness. When the pork and squash soup was served, it was like water to two quenched survivors. I found myself playing with the Filipino upo in my mouth to dilute the spicy and garlicky combination of the dan dan noodle sauce. There was laughter, imagining how we looked like that moment, and then the laughter turned into quiet, happy tears.