Don’t Worry – this post is only contains pictures of the food we ate and written things we did for Yeh-Yeh’s funeral service.
Albany John & I drove down for the service. My lovely sib-in-laws, Maka & CVS, were nice enough to let us stay with them. We drove down late on a Friday night, so that I could be at the airport to pick up my sister, who was flying in from Seattle.
Once I picked her up, we went to the YehYeh’s condo in Flushing. The parking god must have smiled on me for driving late at night and waking up early to pick up my sister from the airport, because I found (free!) street parking almost instantly. In Flushing. On a weekend. My poor sister was sick, and the flight didn’t help, so she napped in the condo while I went out to lunch at Jin Cheng with my dad and Aunties.
Jin Cheng is stupid close to the condo, and it has free parking, so it’s in my family’s roster of restaurants to go to. And guess what? They actually serve a good lunch. Unlike the rest of Flushing, Jin Cheng was pretty quiet, not even half full. The meal was miles better than when I’ve been for dinner or Chinese New Year. They really can’t handle a crowd.
Seafood Congee up top. Light & gingery. I didn’t mind a bowl.
I requested we get a plate of black bean squid. Good wok hei on the squid. Bleh to the peppers.
Beef and gai lan. Very tender beef, also with good wok hei.
Oop, sorry, this was chicken with hard chives cut long. Tasty stuff. I bought more chives to cook with at home shortly after this.
We hung around and just talked for a while. It’s just a whole other transition, a new step in life, to process with Yeh Yeh passing.
We went to San Soo Kap San for dinner with my uncle, aunt & her husband/my uncle, and one of my cousins. That dish with the red strip in the right bottom corner on the big plate? Raw squid. It was soooo freaking good! They only gave 1 plate of it as ban chan, and probably for good reason (I could have eaten about 10 of these). The rest of the banchan spread was also pretty impressive – fresh tofu, konjac (I think…) kimchee, cucumbers, small fish, pickled parsnips (MY JAM!), turnips. So much tastiness.
One bubbling bowl of scrambled egg ban chan. Very delicate – like a savory custard.
They grill all of the meat for you. Kind of expensive – most dishes hover around $30! Yikes! You can see tongue above. Thin rounds. Tasty.
Pork Belly! Yeah!
Galbi! We got two orders. My other cousin’s girlfriend is Korean and she said you don’t normally get 2 orders of the same thing, traditionally. My cousin said his parents know and do it any way, lol. I can’t argue, that galbi was great. Meaty, juicy, had that nice galbi marinade.
I think we got some other kind of sliced beef, too.
I still felt like eating my feelings after dinner, so my dad and I went to Tous Les Jours for some dessert. I was up for anything, but my dad says after going to Korea for a few months last year, he prefers Korean bakeries over Chinese ones because they have better quality ingredients & products, and are more innovative in what they make.
I think they are kind of expensive, but they are also the only bakeries open after 6/7 PM in Flushing. All of the Chinese ones close by then. There’s also a Paris Bakery nearby in downtown Flushing (that you can see from Tous les Jours) and is also open late.
I went for a black sesame doughnut and a cream cheese filled danish.
My dad got a blueberry cheesecake.
All sliced up:
Black sesame doughnut – mochi dough was chewy and kind of odd at first, then an addictive texure. Not too sweet.
Blueberry cheesecake – Asian cheesecake. Fluffy and cake-like.
Cream cheese danish – rich, rich rich, and crispy pastry exterior. Indulgent, but really good.
And like that, I was down with the more expensive Korean bakeries. Good stuff, and different than what the Chinese bakeries sell in Flushing.
Saturday I went to Flushing not knowing when I was going to leave. I wound up spending the whole day there & taking the subway back to Forest Hills. I was really happy to have late night public transportation – I wouldn’t have been able to drive, I was so sleepy!
The next morning we got up and ready to go to the funeral home for the Chinese equivalent of a wake.
Mama & Papa John had come in and were staying near the funeral home. We went out there to grab an late dim sum at … some place in Manhattan Chinatown. My bad, I forget the name. I was trying not to spill anything on my clothes and get to the funeral home on time (Thanks for lunch, Mama & Papa John!).
Someone brought treats to the funeral home. Dan tats. Okay, I will have one. Still warm. Yum. Yeh Yeh. Sigh.
And we went in. It was a traditional Buddhist Chinese funeral, even though we’re not really religious. We folded lots of coins out of paper – that was pretty nice – having something to do with your hands at all times. These were burned as offerings. Although my cousins & I were smartasses and couldn’t help but jokingly bemoan how stereotypical it was to have origami at an Asian funeral, or how we were doing arts & crafts.
Showing emotion/sadness was discouraged, and certain curious circumstances before the funeral helped prepare me for this, although, really, I’d been fairly emotionally detached up until then, so I don’t think crying would have been all too much of an issue any way.
Two Buddhist Monks came in and read a chant. We thought it would just be for a few minutes, but it ended up being about 45 minutes. It wound up being very soothing. Albany John was sweet and took a video of it all for my brother, who couldn’t make it. I think he will really appreciate the monks’ chant.
The service was also bilingual, for us ABCs who don’t understand Cantonese. I’m thankful for that, so I could still participate and understand what was going on without feeling ashamed about my lack of Cantonese.
After the funeral, the sons (my dad & uncle) took all of the remaining guests out for dinner at a nearby restaurant on Mott Street. Eh, food was okay, but Manhattan Chinatown is mostly for tourists now.
This was “special” chicken, in that it tasted like they steamed it one day not quite all the way, and then served it the next day. :X
Salt & pepper pork – okay, this was good.
Gummy lobster. Didn’t even finish it. My dad tried it and agreed. His table’s was good, though.
I always forget how absurd banquet food seems to people who didn’t grow up with it.
After this, we all went our respective ways. Albany John had to get back to Albany that night, so he took a train back.
The next day was the burial. We woke up early to get to the funeral home. Some more traditions/rituals that I didn’t quite understand. Drive to the graveyard, where YehYeh was buried next to Grandma.
Once Yeh-Yeh was buried, we went to one of his favorite restaurants in Flushing – Mellie’s. Another traditional post-service meal.
Sticky Rice with lobster, sweet & sour pork, some soup.
Then I spent the day hanging out with my cousins & sister at my Aunt & Uncle’s place just outside of Flushing. That was great. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. Just spend a few hours hanging out, watching TV, chatting. My sister was all about mahjong. We got Caribbean food & pizza for dinner.
I went back to Forest Hills for one last night with CVS & Maka. Maka took me with her to work in the morning. It was kind of like the world of tomorrow. How did it take me so long to visit this place? There were also snacks everywhere, so I left well fed & caffeinated on my way to Flushing to hang out with my Dad & head back to Albany with my sister.
My Dad and I decided to go out and try a bunch of food from all of the places in Flushing. My sister tagged along for the com First up:
My Sweet Home Dumpling on Roosevelt for 10 tasty dumplings. Freshly made to order (including the dough rolled out!). So good, and under $5.00
Then we walked to the underground food mall on Main Street. You know, the one past Starbucks? Any way, we hit up NY Lan Zhou La Mian. The guy at the stall evidently was asking my dad if my sister & I were single, and my dad quickly responded in the affirmative, haha (my sister is single).
There’s one long folding table and some low stools near the menu board.
Dad went with oxtail noodle soup. He loves oxtails, and I can’t seem to get enough of them, either. The broth was very flavorful, and came with a few pieces of baby bok choy.
Hand pulled noodles were great! Springy chew, flavorful, and went well with the oxtails and broth. The bowl was enormous, and there were hot sauce condiments aplenty on the table. Dad let me spike the broth near the end when he was done with the soup. Yeah!
Then we walked off our gluttony a little more around the edge of downtown Flushing. My Dad saw Forest House, and “Hong Kong Milk Tea” on the sign and wanted to go in.
My Dad said he hadn’t had Hong Kong style Milk Tea in the US, and the difference between this and other Milk Teas you get is that they steep the tea for longer. He said in Hong Kong when he was growing up, the really legit places would strain the tea through a silk stocking.
It took a few minutes for this to come out, but boy was it good! Now I want Hong Kong Milk Tea ALL OF THE TIME – it makes other milk teas look weak and too creamy by comparison. There was a nice bitterness to contrast all of that dairy, and the bottom of the cup had some tea leaves (in Flushing Chinatown it’s usually a teabag in coffee + cream, and it’s not steeped for very long).
Our mini food tour was a nice segue into leaving (fat and fairly happy). There are plenty of things to think about when one of your loved ones passes. I’m lucky to have been able to connect with my Yeh-Yeh. I was still a kid when my other grandparents passed, and I didn’t get to know them as well.