If you know where to go, you can get one of the most authentic — and delicious — northern Chinese experiences in Manhattan. (Hint: it’s on Broadway and 115th.)
Known on the Columbia campus only as "The Flushing Food Cart," the nondescript silver box without any real signs caught the university's attention when they popped up for a Chinese culture day celebration earlier this semester. Wang Hui Jun, owner of the cart, says they weren’t actually planning to stay.
It was a long way to get to the Upper West Side that morning from Flushing, Queens. But that day, droves of Chinese students came up to Hui Jun, calling her Auntie (an honorific title) and telling her how much they missed home. They said it fed their soul to get authentic Chinese food again.
"We have to stay here," Hui Jun says. "These students are China’s hope. Even if we don’t make any money, we have to stay for them."
Their business model is based solely off these lonely students so far from home, so Hui Jun will stay open until 10 or 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday to make sure she feeds every last one getting out of class or the library. And the prices are set as low as they can manage.
They sell barbecued skewers for $1 each, as well as noodles and dumplings for $5, but it’s not just pork or chicken here. They’ll put anything on a stick, from quail and chicken gizzards to green beans, even "Chinese pancakes." Surprisingly enough, it’s not just Chinese people eating the chicken hearts — Americans are willing to try anything, especially with the prices being so low.