Lunar New Year & Alien Dumplings from Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao

Chinese New Year is probably my favorite “holiday”— and I stress the quote marks since we don’t actually get the day off (c’mon America, isn’t it time you guys recognized a day that means more than frickin’ Brooklyn/Queens day? If you guys can get all the Jewish holidays off, can’t we just get ONE DAY of the year? Hah??) — largely because I love the color red, and 100% because I get money from my ‘rent’s.

Angry Bird Hong Bao (Red Envelopes) anyone?

Much, much needed money for more cinnamon rolls from Atlas Cafe and some lipstick to make it look like I haven’t been a total vegan piggie all year long.

This year, I dragged myself out of bed to attend the Flushing Chinese New Year Parade, which was sorely disappointing… 90% of the parade were company sponsors holding up some crappy plastic banners, and the lion dancers weren’t even under the hood, just lazily fussing with it lackadaisical nonchalance. What sort of enthusiasm is this? I think it’s time to beef up on the caffeine, kiddos.

These girls were just holding up the other end of the lion’s costume and waving it around. Lazy… get under there and dance your fat ass off like you should! Photo by Ray Wong
Plainclothes dragon wavers, kind of distracting. At least wear the same color jacket, sheesh. Photo by Ray Wong
Guy filming with his huge iPad, hehe. Photo by Ray Wong
One thing I really enjoyed: these cute little Korean dancers with streamers on their heads, getting tired from waving it in a circle, aww. Photo by Ray Wong
Kerbie’s long lost brother? He looks bored… Photo by Ray Wong

After freezing my tush off in the windy, 40 degree weather, I was getting pretty peckish. We headed over to Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao, which is a stone’s throw away from Flushing Mall and main street. Originally, I planned to visit a Thai restaurant, but since I already had a sore throat (still quarantining now, as a matter of fact), I didn’t think spicy Thai was the best idea.

Plus, there was a line out the door of this place! I had been here quite a few years ago as a teenager and didn’t realize they had gotten so popular. But once we finally got seated (a pretty quick rate, only 10 minutes or so for two people), I could see why.

The service on this particular day was a bit harried, since they were at max capacity. It’s very brusque and straightforward, but your food gets to you just as quick as your ordering. Tea, condiments and water were promptly placed on the table as soon as we sat down.

The ambiance was cosy, albeit a little dirty: there were some soy sauce stains and god-knows-what smattered on the wall opposite my seat. I’d say it’s pretty typical of a Flushing establishment: you come for the food, not for any romance twiddle-diddling.

Service – 


Lots of people out the door, waiting to stuff their pieholes full of dumplings.

Sweet soybean curd – 

To get a bit more warmed up, I ordered the Do Hua (Sweet Soy Bean Curd), a sort of extremely silken soy product that can be eaten traditionally with sugar syrup or salty style with fried cruller, scallion and shrimp paste (obviously a no-go for me!). Their Do Hua was delicately sweetened and had a pleasant, slippery soft consistency. Since it’s pretty much made out of soy, it’s barely fattening… and a nice departure from rice/bread al the time.

Lightly sweetened and pillowy soft, this is the perfect meal complement, not just for breakfast (I also like to add red bean paste for a dessert-like treat).

FYI, you can get a large quart-size togo version of this in a little shop on main street too, dirt cheap for $1.00, which is awesome when eaten for breakfast, or between meals. 

Steamed Vegetable Dumplings – 

For my entrée, I ordered the steamed vegetable dumplings, steamed to perfection in an old-school bamboo steamer, which clocked in at only $5.25 for 6 good-sized dumplings. That’s pretty good, considering a lot of places stiff you on either the dumpling size or a ridiculous price.

These are wrapped quite interestingly…

The filling was a savory mix of chives, Chinese cabbage and garlic flakes (which really enhanced the flavor) encased in an elastic, softly chewy handmade dumpling wrapper that, when wrapped, kind of resemble larvae or alien-ish eggs. The taste was anything from alien, though. I thoroughly enjoyed them… and though I could have probably eaten another helping, it did leave me satisfyingly full.

The filling is a delicious blend of cabbage, chives and garlic flakes, making this one of my favorite dumplings I’ve had so far!

Unfortunately, Nan Xiang does not have any vegan Xiao Long Bao (小笼包, or soup dumplings… literally means “little lantern buns” in Chinese) selections, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them a try. Plus, considering our bill came out to $15 for the two of us, there’s no reason you shouldn’t schlep your butt down to Flushing for ’em.


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