Spicy and Tasty, Flushing, Queens
Flushing is a veritable embarrassment of riches when it comes to delicious (and affordable) eats. The streets are generally crowded, and the storefronts overflowing with wares ranging from shoes to spices to boiled peanuts.
The history of Flushing is fascinating, and has enticed me down a rabbit hole as I prepared this article. Originally home to the Matinecock tribe (part of the Algonquin Nation), Flushing vacillated between Dutch and English rule before the Revolutionary War. It has become an emblem of the diversity that defines Queens, NYC's largest borough (by square miles), and the nation's "most ethnically diverse county." Flushing is considered by some to be "the true birthplace of religious freedom here in the United States" because of its early (1657) profession of tolerance for members of the Society of Friends who Peter Stuyvesant banished from modern day Manhattan. Flushing is also considered New York's more authentic and interesting Chinatown (larger by population and area than its more famous Manhattan version). Immigration from China began to burgeon in the 1970s, and the town has become a microcosm of the various Chinese cuisines its inhabitants brought with them.
Spicy and Tasty is one of Flushing's Sichuan gems. While cuisines from all corners of China can be found here, Flushing's Sichuan scene seems to be experiencing a well-deserved moment in the spotlight. The cuisine is characterized by its use of Sichuan peppercorns, which cause a tingling sensation in your mouth. We've enjoyed Little Pepper, which is now located in College Point, as well as the more upscale presentation at Da Xi in Flushing's New World Mall. But Spicy and Tasty remains a staple for us. The food is delicious. The service is efficient. The price is right. What more could one ask for?
The restaurant has an admittedly unassuming appearance. Its entrance is easy to pass by if you're not looking too carefully. Once inside, appetizers and cold dishes are on display at the counter by the window, and they provide a promising glimpse of the bounds of deliciousness that await. Below are the cucumbers, spicy beef, and tripe that we order nearly every time.
The cumin lamb here is divine: mouth-tingling, savory, and juicy. It has assumed a position as its own food group in our dietary landscape. On her last visit from India, my mother-in-law requested this dish for her first dinner. We ordered a serving for that meal and then one to go. She is so enamoured with the flavor that she has made a dedicated effort to recreate the recipe at home in Kolkata (she tells me she has succeeded, and I can't wait to find out if she's right!). This lamb is the stuff of dreams. The spice combination is tingly and nuanced at the same time, and the meat itself is delectably tender.
The green scallion fried rice helps to cool the palate a bit, but only until the next bite, which will inevitably (for me, anyway) be the sliced pork in fresh hot pepper. As with the lamb, the meat is cooked to tender perfection, with a spicy blend of flavors that both satisfy and titillate. As much as I adore the lamb dish, this fiery pork is quickly becoming a city-wide favorite for me, luring me to Flushing all on its own.
We've recently made an effort to branch out a bit here, ordering the crispy fish. It did not disappoint. It is delicately fried and inescapably addictive. We also try to remember to order a vegetable or two to balance out the spice level of the table.
Spicy and Tasty may be my favorite eponymous restaurant ever. The service is consistently noninvasive and efficient. They get busy on Friday nights, are BYOB-friendly, and are cash only. Some of our more rewarding visits have been with groups, because we can try various dishes and share our delight with friends.
Spicy and Tasty is a cornerstone of the culinary institution that is Flushing. The town itself should be a destination for any New Yorker who enjoys mind-blowing food, but especially for those who appreciate the stories a cuisine has to tell.
Spicy and Tasty
39-07 Prince Street
Flushing, NY 11354
As of 31 July 2018: Sadly, Spicy and Tasty has closed. Will update with any new information as it comes.