In the grimy basement, a Chinese man with a bluetooth headset and baseball cap took dough and made noodles to order. That involved smacking the dough down on a cold surface and winding it over his hands until he had perfectly uniform pieces the width of spaghetti. He cut these into boiling broth and served them to us fresh. Soups range from the basic (vegetable) to the meaty (oxtail) to the exotic (pig intestine), but the broths are all the same: rich pork and beef bone broth with a hint of star anise.
My soup also had salty bok choy and scallions. The noodles themselves had a spicy, star anise thing going on as well. They were springy. We were the whitest people in that windowless mall.
I stopped at a bakery two doors down for a bubble tea. I didn't get the name. Unlike most bubble teas I have had in my lifetime, this one wasn't made from the flavored powders so commonly found in Chinatown. Instead, my barista pureed fresh watermelon with ice and served it cold with lots of tapioca.
Finally, I stopped at a food cart for snacks to take home. I bought steamed pork buns (4/$1.25), doughy fist-sized balls stuffed with dumpling filling, and a large (and somewhat tasteless) scallion pancake that came wrapped in parchment paper. My loot cost a whopping $11 total, and that included the trendy bubble tea.
If you can stand a trip on the 7, or have a car like I do, it's worth the trip.
Lan Zhou Handmade Noodles
Golden Shopping Mall
41-28 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11355