Neighborhoods across Queens, such as Flushing and Jackson Heights, may be well-known for their dense Asian populations. But quickly joining those ranks is one of the borough’s smaller residential pockets: Long Island City. According to a recent census, the number of residents who identify as Asian and call LIC home has grown five times in number since 2010. In 2020 alone, more than a dozen new Asian-owned businesses in the neighborhood opened their doors to locals.
Find out what the riverside community has to offer—scallion pancakes, sashimi, stylish streetwear and much more—at these favorites below.
10-07 50th Ave.
Spice lovers can unite at this contemporary Chinese dining spot, which specializes in the piquancy of Szechuan cuisine. Start with cold appetizers, like zingy wood ear mushrooms or a bowl of spicy dan dan noodles. Then gear up for a family-style feast of winners like the mapo tofu, tender tea-smoked duck and the Chongqing whole-roasted fish. Fans of dry pot can build their own bowl from a list of assorted add-ins. Need something to quell a fiery tongue? A robust menu of handcrafted cocktails, spritzers and milk teas awaits.
21-52 44th Dr.
The next time your sweet tooth calls out, pay a visit to this charming dessert café that spotlights Asian homestyle baked goods. A neighborhood newcomer, Multisweet has won over patrons with items like durian custard pastries and Earl Grey pudding. If you’re looking for a savory bite, try the pork song song: a soft bun, encased in mayonnaise plus a coating of dried seaweed and sweet Chinese pork floss. Pair your snack with a cup of your favorite espresso drink and cozy up indoors or head out to the patio space.
42-32 Crescent St.
If planning a tea tour is your goal, add Möge Tee to the list, but be warned: its menu is extensive. To avoid decision fatigue, go straight for a blended fresh fruit tea—strawberry and watermelon are fan favorites—with cheese foam topping. If you’re feeling adventurous, consider the bubble milk tea made with fresh purple yam. For small bites, choose from delights like handmade tofu puddings, sweet mochi and crepe cake slices.
Courtesy, Extra Butter
22-03 Jackson Ave.
Streetwear enthusiasts and sneakerheads can’t miss a visit to Extra Butter, whose CEO, Ankur Amin, immigrated to Queens at a young age from India, and creative director, Bernie Gross, is a borough native with Filipino and Chinese heritage. At the LIC outpost of the shop’s original Lower East Side location, you’ll find the latest Air Jordans, Converse and Vans for the whole family right along with slides, sweats, tees and accessories.
5-51 47th Ave.
This local Vietnamese eatery is a go-to for comfort food. Come hungry for Cyclo’s steaming bowls of beef pho cooked in an oxtail broth or banh mi made on addictively soft-and-crusty baguettes. If you’re ordering a full spread, spring for the spicy papaya and shrimp salad to start and add on the clay pot ginger chicken with shiitake mushrooms. For a post-meal jolt, try the Vietnamese coffee, hot or iced. It uses Robusta beans (stronger than the usual Arabica), is brewed in a single-serve phin (or filter) and is sweetened with condensed milk.
Courtesy, Tuk Tuk
49-06 Vernon Blvd.
For classic pad thai, flavorful vegan curry and Thai street-food favorites, swing by Tuk Tuk, a few steps from the Vernon Boulevard 7 train stop. Take in the artsy ambiance over Thai iced teas and curry puff appetizers, then peruse the menu’s “explore” section, where you’ll find a selection of true Thai specialties. Popular picks include mee kiew hang (roast pork with noodles) and kai ra-berd “egg bomb”: ground pork stir-fried with chilis, garlic and basil, served over rice and topped with a crispy fried egg.
42-43 27th St.
Koufuku Mart, which opened in 2019, has quickly become a neighborhood favorite. You’ll find it tucked away on a side street and brimming with East Asian home goods and food items. Scoop up matcha Kit Kats and mango Hi-Chews, or go salty with spicy shrimp chips and sriracha-flavored popcorn. In addition to its popular pantry essentials and beverages, the shop offers a collection of budget-friendly stationery, beauty tools, cosmetics and kitchen supplies.
27-26 Jackson Ave.
If you’re in the mood for stellar sushi, funky interiors and fun cocktails, Sapps is the spot for you. This hip Japanese joint serves up a classic selection of specialty rolls and sashimi alongside hot entrees like ramen in a homemade dashi broth and a variety of donburi (rice bowls). You can also find modern riffs, such as Sapps pizza pie (spicy tuna and jalapeno atop a flakey, fried scallion pancake) and Tostitos ceviche, starring a mix of tuna, salmon, yellowtail and octopus (with tortilla chips, of course). For dessert, treat yourself to the cheesecake tempura, and don’t miss out on sake specials during weekday happy hour.
Courtesy, M Tea
23-01 41st St., Store 1D
If you need a pick-me-up, pop into M Tea for a rainbow of refreshing treats. The café’s menu features an array of traditional Taiwanese bubble teas starring fresh fruit, along with delectable desserts and French confections. Try a signature dragonfruit tea or, for something extra creamy, the brown sugar bobo tea topped with a frothy milk foam. You can also find caffeine-free, sugar-free and dairy-free options. Looking to stay awhile? Order a slice of black sesame coconut cake or pink peach lychee cake.
49-11 Vernon Blvd.
Over the course of a half-decade, Yumpling has evolved from humble food stall at a local flea to popular food truck serving Midtown’s bustling lunch crowd to this LIC brick-and-mortar home. Pop in for flavors inspired by Taiwanese classics (tender beef noodle soup) and night market menus (crispy popcorn chicken). Share a plate of their pan-fried dumplings, topped with homemade chili oil, and round off your order with a side of garlicky cucumbers and crunchy lotus chips. If the weather allows, grab an iced coffee with boba to go and stroll to nearby Gantry Plaza State Park for incredible views.