Jaeki Cho’s Favorite Spots in Flushing

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

On Boulevard du Nord. between Prince Street and Main Street in Flushing, Queens, behind an old awning advertising tuxedos and suits, you’ll find the minimalist streetwear store Alumni from New York. Co-ownership By Gene Han and Jaeki Cho, its marketing and events guru, the boutique has hosted sneaker launch parties and other in-store events, including panels on social media strategy for entrepreneurs. Over the past year, Alumni has also launched a running club who hosts weekly 5Ks around Queens, which Cho sees as a way to connect runners across the borough.

But in the summer of 2020, with many of these events on hold, Cho turned his attention to helping restaurants, which he sees as the epitome of New York culture and community. They suffered (and are still suffering) tremendously. He turned his TikTok account into Righteous Eats, a food and travel show in Queens showcasing everything from his favorite Elmhurst tamale cart at the bakery with Astoria’s best baklava and knafeh to his over 450,000. subscribers.

“So many restaurants in these immigrant enclaves are surviving month to month and they lack the resources to secure government funded grants… Danny Meyer is not there to make sure the funds arrive,” Cho explains. “So I took it upon myself to show love with all the resources I have. “

Cho was born in Korea, and for a few years before his family moved to the United States, they lived in China, an experience he says prepared his palate for receptivity to new foods. When he was 9, the family moved to the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. Thanks to a diverse group of friends – Cho compares her school lunch table to the UN – and her own curiosity, Cho has become well versed in world kitchens.

When his family moved to Flushing during his high school years, Cho was already familiar with the neighborhood – along with, he said, most other Korean American families in the tri-state area. Throughout the 80s, 90s and early 2000s it was full of Korean-owned businesses, from SAT schools to basement manga cafes (manhwa bang) where Cho spent many hours on stacks of comics. Today, much of the Korean American community has moved further east as Flushing has swelled with mainland Chinese immigrants – but the streets of Flushing are still teeming with food from Korea, China and beyond. elsewhere in the world. Here are some of his favorite places in Flushing and why he loves them.

3712 Main Street

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“It’s a little hole in the wall on Main Street, Flushing, where they serve jianbing – this Chinese pancake very popular in northern China. The pancake is made with wheat, eggs and a variety of sauces. For toppings, you can add youtiao (a fried salty donut), bao cui (fried crackers), or xiang chang (Chinese sausage). I usually get the classic jianbing with youtiao with their salty soy milk. They have these heated round pans and they whip them in front of you and they sandwich them. “

41-10 162nd street

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“They only serve one dish, so you know that shit is good.” It is a beef stew called somuri gukbap. Somuri means cow’s head and gukbap means “soup with rice”. So you get a pot of hot broth and it is always served with rice and very simple banchan. And that’s all you get, and during lunch hour you have lines outside. The people who frequent the spot are not only Koreans, they are also a lot of Chinese. I also see a lot of Central Americans there, and it’s kind of like Birria. You don’t see a lot of Americans because they’re probably looking for bulgogi and bibimbap, and the owner doesn’t care. As soon as you walk in, the people who serve simply ask you, Spicy or not spicy? I spiced it nine times out of ten. It’s a classic, and at one point I went there four times a week. It is a very palatable type of flavor to Koreans, a very warm flavor. It reminds you of your ancestors, the pain, the sorrow, the joy – this is a very touching dish for me. After a hangover you realize it and feel like you are reunited with yourself.

41-6 162nd street

From left to right : Photo: DeSean McClinton-HollandPhoto: DeSean McClinton-Holland

From above: Photo: DeSean McClinton-HollandPhoto: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“Right next door is Hansol Food. It’s kind of like the Korean version of an Italian deli or butcher shop where you get certain cuts of meat or prepared foods – instead of salami or broccoli, you get kimchi and other banchan. Their kimchi is my favorite. I know there’s a lot of fresh, new-age kimchi made by young Korean Americans where they charge $ 15 for a small pot – you’re not going to get it here. You will get this raw and authentic Korean kimchi with all seafood, shellfish, gluten free.

41-06 149th Pl.

“In the Korean barbecue scene, different trends happen every few years, like this new grill that’s supposed to suck up oil or cook on a crystal. So this restaurant broke and they were cooking pork belly on crystals. But they cook it at an angle so that the oil drains into a basin where they put a bunch of kimchi that cooks with the fat of the pork belly, and they serve it with all types of banchan and you. eat it cold. broth noodles – this is a wonderful meal, you are happy for your life. Noodles are called naengmyun and it is a popular summer dish in Korea – there are two types, mul naengmyun which is served in frozen broth, or bibim naengmyun, which is served in hot and spicy sauce without broth. Han Joo is also well known for both.

40-24 162nd Street

“The literal translation of the name of this restaurant could be ‘old fashioned fried chicken’. They serve the type of Korean fried chicken that people are most familiar with – glazed, sweet and spicy, or soy-based fried chicken – but what this place is really known for is a more traditional Korean style of fried chicken. It is not covered with breadcrumbs; instead, the skin is thin and crisp, and all of the seasoning is in the skin. No additional sauce painting is done which is my favorite. And they literally serve you a whole chicken. This is my favorite fried chicken in NYC – a wonderful thing, a beautiful dish. They have a new sushi thing on the back, and it’s cool, but it’s like, why would I go to a fried chicken restaurant for sushi? “

From left to right : Photo: DeSean McClinton-HollandPhoto: DeSean McClinton-Holland

From above: Photo: DeSean McClinton-HollandPhoto: DeSean McClinton-Holland

163-30 boul. North

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“It’s a hairdressing salon that I go to often. Sometimes I get scalp treatment here: they use green tea oil and mint oil, and they massage it and put plastic wrap around your head and steam it on. So I visited this place once a month or whenever I want to be pampered.

136-55B, Roosevelt Avenue.

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“There aren’t a lot of pizza options in Flushing because it’s so Asian, but Lucia is an institution. It’s been in the same location for decades, and it’s a no-frills New York-style pizzeria. It’s just a slice of plain cheese – often the delay is so quick that you get a fresh slice that burns your tongue, not a cold, fossilized slice that they put in the oven. You get two and season it with that… who knows if it’s really Parmesan? But you do it anyway.

136-93 37th avenue

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“If I stop on my own, I get a bowl of hearty Lanzhou Beef Noodles – stuffed with hand-pulled noodles, sliced ​​beef and flavored with radish, cilantro and special homemade chili oil – and a side of lamb burgers. Lanzhou is in Gansu province, near Mongolia, so there are a lot of lamb dishes. If I’m in company, the beef noodles are a must, accompanied by their Monster Chicken Plate, or braised shoulder of lamb. Especially in the colder months I’m a regular.

3661 Main Street

Photo: DeSean McClinton-Holland

“Flushing is full of Chinese and Korean bakeries. While I love them all, my latest favorite is Rainbow Bakery on Main Street. It has a great mix of pastries and rolls that are staples of North and South Chinese bakeries, with a mix of Korean influences as well. So you have your assortment of buns which are basically mini-meals, stuffed with hot dogs or ham. Then there are the dim sum, pies, corn cakes, croissants, and roll cakes. And in life, there are times when you feel ambitious and want them all with a hot milk tea.

14906, boulevard du Nord

“I like that this Korean-style public bath isn’t crowded on weekends, compared to its counterparts like Spa Castle. It’s like a neighborhood spa and I do it whenever I want to sweat out toxins and receive a deep massage that aligns my muscles and mind. I usually take a bath, then get a massage for an hour, and when I drift like Jell-O, I visit the steam rooms and fall asleep a lot. Then I treat myself to a drink or a snack that they sell, like green tea. Sometimes I can have a Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar.

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