One hundred and one of anything is most definitely an exploration. Dalmatians. Leagues under the sea. Restaurants. Raising those pups, descending those depths, visiting those joints all will open a person’s eyes. While there are just five boroughs and a finite number of neighborhoods in spite of your local realtor’s best efforts, it is easy to get in a repeating loop. The same neighborhoods. The same types of foods for lunch. The same bars and restaurants.
The great thing about the NY Mag list of new cheap eats is the neighborhoods these cheap eats call home are as diverse as the city itself – even if Staten Island didn’t make the list. Seriously, Richmond County! I don’t believe for a second a new restaurant hasn’t opened since 2006. I hope to see you on the list in eight years if only to give me yet another excuse to ride the Ferry.
Ask most New Yorkers about Flushing and they’ll tell you it is the stop after Citi Field, Main Street is always packed with people, and on any given day, it gives Chinatown a run for its money when it comes to food. All of those are true but it sells that neighborhood so short. A 15 minute walk east from the last stop on the 7 Train not only brings one to the front door of a place that will open your eyes to what good dumplings are, it transforms a part of the city from a 2-D afterthought on the subway map to life. Mom-and-pop shops, post-war apartment buildings, and driveways along the tree-lined Roosevelt Avenue make you feel like you’ve left Queens for a small city far away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple.
Until you make your way onto Northern Boulevard that is. A highway parading as a city avenue is where you will find Daheen Wang Mandoo. Don’t get distracted by the KFC across the “street” touting itself as the home of the best chicken in the city.
A wang mandoo is a king dumpling. Imagine what get at Vanessa’s Dumpling and then double it. While you’re doubling the size, take a little bit off the price. That is the immaculate pleasure of Daheen Wang Mandoo. Delicious food at a bonkers low price. One king dumpling will run you $2. For $5, I managed to scoop up two king dumplings – the pork kimchee and what I’m pretty sure was the red bean paste once since it was not pork – and a can of Coke. Yes, I should have asked which one exactly it was but since the kimchee dumpling wrapper had a sticker saying as much on it, I figured the second one would as well. Not so much and wanting not to expose myself as a nube, I stayed silent.
Of the two dumplings, the pork kimchee is the winner. That’s not to say the dessert one is not good. As someone relatively new to the world of dumplings, the consistency takes a little time getting used to.
Unlike Vanessa’s that has a crisp covering, which I’d had a few days before, Daheen’s dumpling dough is warm, but soft. With the kimchee pork, it serves as a nice contrast to the meat and the spicy fermented vegetables in the dumpling. The other dumpling had a rice-like texture on the inside that, in comparison to the kimchee fell short if only because it had fewer notes to its taste. Still good, still an other worldly steal at $2.
Daheen also has a full menu and apparently an outpost in Manhattan, but as I sat there on a quiet mid afternoon hour, I couldn’t help but think how a place like this would make bank if they set up near college campuses. The power of cheap, good eats is impossible for college students – sober, drunk, or otherwise – to resist. My four years at Seton Hall saw me and my friends hit up runny Chinese food, poor imitations of pizza, desolate diners, and a fried chicken place that left you smelling like buffalo sauce for days. A king dumpling joint a stones throw away from a college would be as sure a bet as you can find.
But for those of us past the college days, just the the cost of getting to Daheen in Flushing is more expensive ($2.50) than one dumpling. Cheap eat, indeed.