New World Mall, Flushing, NY

To get to this new dim sum restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing, you go into the New World Mall, walking through the two sets of glass sliding doors onto its red carpeted entrance, past the Futurist-looking fake gold abstract sculpture. You go underneath 2 ceiling mounted flat screen TVs playing Chinese pop music videos and up the escalator to the third floor, passing shops called Miss V Fashion Boutique, U.Nive, WINK, 101 Fashion, and 96GHZ. Once up the escalator you’ll notice sunlight pouring in from the skylight ceiling which is modeled after the coffered architecture of ancient Greece. The classical references begin there and take a Baroque turn elsewhere in this great hall, crashing head on with an obsessive pursuit of newness. Monumental faux-crystal chandeliers hover over the central spaces while the melting soft neon blues, greens, magentas and pinks of LED tubes highlight square pillars that run in two rows down the middle. But its shimmering newness is already beginning to show ragged age on its hastily assembled, cheap surfaces just 3 months after opening. Glass, marble, granite, satin, gold, crystal – they’re all either present or referenced. A grand piano sits on the stage next to a party of 12 unceremoniously devouring their dim sum. A sultry hostess in a crimson ball gown glides by to seat a table for 4.

New World is the latest of the many malls that have sprung up in this Queens Chinatown in the last 5 years, offering the kind of shopping and eating experience that my parents and others say reminds them of contemporary China. Each new mall sucks the business from the older ones, turning them into desperately abject vessels for cell phone stalls, teenage fashion boutiques, bootleg DVD shops and so forth. New World occupies a space that sat empty and unused for years before it burst open in a blur of construction.

It has packed them in, fielding a diverse array of consumer options like a massive supermarket, an unending food court in the lower level with a dizzying selection of cuisines, snacks and desserts from all over China, specialty shops like the one that only sells iPad cases, clothing stores for all styles, and a shop that sells motorized scooter/bikes popular with food delivery guys. Packs of Chinese teenagers and families take to this space in a state of near euphoria; they know how to be in this kind of architecture, comfortable to cruise its gleaming halls, wandering casually in and out of shops, and adding to the cacophony of buzzing chatter that reminds me of the soundtrack of dim sum. The new Chinatowns are malls.

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One Comment on “New World Mall, Flushing, NY”

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