In New York City, good food is not hard to come by, especially in Queens. Dubbed “The World’s Borough,” Queens is one of the most diverse counties in the world, and the rich and vibrant culture is reflected in the food. Flushing, the home of Queens College, is no exception as it has some of the most flavorful cuisine from many different cultures. Moving to Queens from upstate New York, I discovered one of my new favorite dishes — dim sum. Dim sum, which fittingly translates to ‘touch the heart,’ is an umbrella term for Cantonese dumplings with various fillings such as rice, seafood, and pork. When a friend told me about a restaurant serving a dim sum lunch special within walking distance from campus, I had to check it out.
New Lake Pavilion is a Cantonese restaurant on Main Street and Horace Harding Expressway that has a lunch special with discounted prices from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. serving dim sum. It’s convenient location, only a 10-minute walk from campus, and lunch special pricing makes it worth checking out during Free Hour.
From the outside, the neon lettering makes it easy to mistake New Lake Pavilion for a night club. But, serving food for 10 years, the restaurant has a reputation of serving delicious food and having a unique interior. Inside, the dining room is spacious and decorated with drapery over the chairs and windows with fancy chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant is large and perfect for parties large or small. Despite the upscale decorations, the atmosphere is casual, and the staff is devoted to getting their guests fed quickly. Eating under a chandelier makes everything seem like a special occasion, but here, the true special occasion is the dim sum cart rolling out to your table.
The servers bring around carts of bamboo steamers with each incasing a handmade dim sum dish, from shrimp shumai to other specialties, like chicken feet. Then, the server will present different steamers and you can take what you’d like. Be sure to ask specifically for a dim sum menu to familiarize yourself with dishes. Given that I don’t speak Cantonese, there was some difficultly when ordering, but the pictures on the menu helped.
The staff did their best to accommodate me and told me which dishes they thought were good. The servers try to get give you lots of food per stop, so don’t be afraid to say no to dishes. As always, when trying new things, it’s possible that you’ll come across something you won’t like — but you’ll probably discover something you love.
The dishes were taken right off the hot cart, so the service was fast, and the dumplings were steaming. The cart makes stops at your table throughout your meal to offer more food. I suggest asking about the pricing beforehand or as you go. Small, medium, and large dishes are all $4.25 during lunch hour and special plates are $5. You can get a few dishes to share amongst many people, so it’s great for groups.
My party and I got a variety of things, but my favorites were the shrimp shumai and vegetable spring rolls. The shrimp and pork shumais are two of their most popular dishes, and for good reason. We also ordered steamed shrimp and vegetable dumplings, lo mai gai (sticky rice with beef and Chinese sausage wrapped in a lotus leaf), beef balls, both shrimp and pork rice noodles, veal in pepper sauce, and ‘pearl balls,’ a sticky rice ball with beef and corn. The dumplings and lo mai gai were delicious and generously filled. The veal was flavorful, but fatty. The shrimp and pork rice noodle rolls were underwhelming, as the flavor came from the sauce added on top. We also had mango coconut buns, which were slimy dough balls rolled in coconut with mango filling. The texture was interesting, but they were sweet, and the mango filling was delicious.
New Lake Pavilion offers a unique and tasty dining experience. Groups and foodies can experiment with new flavors and textures while enjoying Cantonese classics. They serve flavorful, thick dumplings perfect for a quick meal. The distance from campus, fast service, and cheap lunch special pricing makes it a spot worth checking out.