Flushing may have started as a Dutch settlement in the 17th century, but, in recent years, it has evolved into the city's largest Chinatown. Yet calling it a "Chinatown" would be a misnomer. There are many different Asian groups that call Flushing home, including Korean, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese.
In Flushing's vibrant downtown - the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue - you can find myriad shopping opportunities, from Chinese herbalists and Asian markets to a new mall, Old Navy and Benetton. There are dining options ranging from dumpling stands to upscale Japanese restaurants. There are Asian art exhibits and sports bars, and, not so far away, a spectacular Korean spa and water park. No matter what your ethnic background, as long as you can point politely and smile, you'll find something to enjoy in Flushing.
By Car: Take the Long Island Expressway (I-495) to Exit 23.
By Railroad: Take the Port Washington line to Flushing-Main Street.
Queens Crossing, 136-17 39th Ave., 718-888-1234, queenscrossing.com
Flushing's newest mall is upscale, with shops for women's fashions (Mango, also found in Manhattan), beauty products and home decor, as well as galleries and pan-Asian restaurants.
Flushing Mall, 133-31 39th Ave., 718-762-9000
This long-standing collection of Asian boutiques and restaurants continues to attract shoppers. Watch noodles being pulled by hand in the food court.
Shun An Tong Health Herbal Corporation, 135-24 Roosevelt Ave., 718-445-9358
Herbalists are plentiful in Flushing, but you can observe this long-established herbalist mix remedies from shark fins and seahorses.
WHERE TO EAT
Pho Vietnamese Restaurant, 38-02 Prince St., 718-461-8686, COST $
This Vietnamese restaurant on Prince Street has fresh summer rolls and a savory pho bo - an oxtail soup with rice noodles. The pork bun (rice noodles with salad, pork and tangy nuoc cham sauce) is quite good. The restaurant sits in a small row of decent Asian eateries along Prince.
Tung Yi Fung, 135-29 37th Ave., 718-886-8233, COST $
There's an unofficial dim sum war between this Chinese restaurant and nearby New East Cuisine Manor (37-02 Main Street, 718-888-9293). Both serve tasty shaomai (pork, shrimp and mushroom dumplings topped with crab roe), fluffy char siu baau (pork buns) and more.
KumGangSan Korean Restaurant, 138-28 Northern Blvd., 718-461-0909, kumgangsan.net, COST $$
The extravagant Flushing branch of a Manhattan restaurant is famous for its waterfall, piano player and spicy Korean barbecue. Don't miss the fabulous steak tartare, sprinkled in sesame with a side of Korean pears.
Authentic Hunan cuisine. Be prepared for cumin-scented fiery fish, beef and pork dishes balanced by a range of flavors that manage to hit sweet, sour and salty spots at once. The mashed pepper fish head looks terrifying, but is a delight, as is the pork steamed in lotus leaves.
Mulan Restaurant, Queens Crossing, 2nd Floor, 136-17 39th Avenue, 718-886-8526, mulan-restaurant.com, COST $
This Asian fusion restaurant is beautifully designed, with a central "gazebo" surrounded by "curtains" of streaming water. Melding together Cantonese, Shanghainese and European dishes, chef Peter How was a protégé of renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The food is tasty and creative, and the prix fixe lunch menu offered is an excellent deal (soup, appetizer, entree and dessert for $14.50).
Taipan Bakery, 37-25 Main St., 718-460-8787, taipan-bakery.com, COST $
A local favorite for Chinese pastries and bubble tea. The cakes are fresh, and the buns filled with sweet custards or meats.
AA Plaza, 40-66 Main Street, underneath the LIRR near 40th St., COST $
The Chinese "fast food" stalls at AA Plaza serve dumplings, steamed buns, noodles, pancakes, fried rice, cakes and more. You can't beat four steamed buns for $1.25 - a meal for a king.
WHAT TO DO
Tackle table tennis
View or play some high-caliber table tennis at New York Table Tennis Club (35-26 Prince St., 718-359-3272, nyttc.com). Rent a table by the hour ($16 with two paddles) or half-hour ($10) or take a lesson with coach Hui Yuan Liu.
Savor afternoon tea
The ritual may be British, but the tea cups are of bone china, and Rose House (Queens Crossing, 718-359-ROSE, COST $$$), with its perfume of roses and over-the-top decor, offers an Asian version. You could spend hours sampling teas, such as Scotch whisky tea, pudding black tea and rose polyphenol tea, and then try the three-tiered tray of sandwiches and desserts.
Visit an art gallery
Wander over to Crossing Art (Queens Crossing, 212-359-4333, crossingart.com), which has a whimsical art exhibit all about cows through Sept. 10. Opposite is the Liuligongfang Collection (718-713-0880), a lively assemblage of Asian crystal objets d'art. Also on display in the mall are the expressionistic paintings of Robert Huang at Rose House (718-359-ROSE).Flushing Town Hall (137-35 Northern Blvd., 718-463-7700, flushingtownhall.org) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, through Sept. 13.
Spa Castle, 131-10 11th Ave., 718-939-6300, nyinspaworld.com
This 100,000 square-foot Korean-style spa and water park in College Point combines traditional Asian saunas and massage parlors with plunge pools, water jets and whirlpools - plus a cafeteria with kimchee and other culinary specialties, and Korean soap operas on TV ($35 weekdays, $45 weekends).
Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., queensbotanical.org
With about two dozen different gardens, there's something for everyone. Visit the Victorian-style Wedding Garden, the recently expanded Herb Garden and the 8,000-square-foot Green Roof. Sniff your way through the Fragrance Walk, but take a break from breathing in the Compost Garden.
Citi Field, Grand Central Pkwy., newyork.mets.mlb.com
Now that baseball season is under way, check out the spiffy new home of the New York Mets. For cheap beers, visit the nearby, newly opened Roosevelt Sports Bar (133-45 Roosevelt Ave., 718-463-2313, rooseveltsportsbar.com).
Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, nycgovparks.org
Explore the largest park in the borough of Queens, recognizable by the Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair. The park's 1,255 acres of green fields are also the home to the Queens Museum of Art, the New York Hall of Science and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center - where the U.S. Open begins Aug. 31.