The ‘Chengdu Happy Meal’ at New World Mall is a steal

Chopsticks + Marrow, written by Joe DiStefano, covers food both inside and outside of Queens. He’ll be joining us here on QueensNYC each Thursday.

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At just under $10 this six-course meal of Sichuan snacks won’t break the bank

Much like downtown Flushing’s Chinatown itself, the New World Mall food court is diverse and constantly evolving. One of the latest additions is a two-week-old outfit that goes by the rather unassuming English name, “Szechuan Dish.” The Chinese on its sign “Mei Sichuan” and  “Chéng Dū kǒu wèi,” which more or less says beautiful Sichuan, Chengdu flavor, gives a much better idea of the beautifully flavorful, fiery things coming out of Stall No. 25.

Last Sunday I tried liáng bàn xīn shé, a fiery cold salad of pig tongue and heart slicked with chili oil. And yesterday I stopped by for a fēng wèi xiǎo chī tào cān, or, local flavor set meal. Think of it as a six-course Sichuan Happy Meal. For $9.50 I was one happy, happy eater. It was like a greatest hits of Chengdu street food: excellent dàn dàn miàn,noodles in a fiery sauce of ground beef and preserved vegetables; Chéng Dū hóng yóu shuǐ jiǎo, pork dumplings in soy sauce enlivened with chilies and no small amount of garlic; and hǎi wèi chāo shŏu, a flavorful wonton and seafood soup.

The bountiful set also includes a cold two-veggie plate and a cold two-meat plate. Last night the meats were the aforementioned pig offal and excellent diced rabbit. The vegetable plate was preserved tofu and celery and an unidentifiable yet pleasantly chewy rooty type vegetable. If you’re into that sort of thing, there is also a sweet fermented rice soup.

If you think this sounds like a whole lot of food for $9.50, you are right. It is also a whole lot of flavors: chili, garlic, salty, sweet, even a subtle smokiness from the vegetable plate. I haven’t been this excited about Sichuan food since I took Fuchsia Dunlop to the Golden Mall. It’s a game changer, people.

Szechuan Dish, No. 25, New World Mall Food Court, 40-21 Main St., Flushing