Today I rode the 7 train to the end of line, disembarking at Main Street/Flushing. My goal was to take a look around. My only previous experiences in Flushing had been one dreadful Mets game some three years ago, and a grandma-sponsored trip to famed East Buffet, AKA the place with 100 buffet dishes, some five years ago.
Since I'm going to China soon, my goal for the day was not Chinese food. Rather, the trip was inspired by this post on Chowhound, describing Max and Mina's, a Kew Gardens Hills-based kosher ice-cream shop. The deal with this place? In addition to the two founders having been named to People Magazine's Top 50 Bachelors list at one time, this place specializes in bizarro-flavors, including lox, sweet corn, pizza, and jalapeno ice cream.
Before hitting up Max & Mina's, I took a tip from Salli Vates and ducked in to Shimon's, a kosher dairy fast food place of sorts located next door.
Inside, Shimon's had all the charm of a Roy Rogers in Utah, with an ancient menu board hovering over the take-out counter. Around 2pm, just a few local families were spread out around the the linoleum-paneled booths, munching on Israeli salads and veggie pizza slices.
I wasn't starving, and I knew I had to save room for the ice cream, but I did manage to sample something I had wanted to try for awhile -- a bureka.
A bureka is a filo pastry the size of a pizza slice that is stuffed with a filling (Shimon's offers cheese, eggplant and psinach), and baked until golden brown. I opted for the farmer's cheese-stuffed version, which broke into flaky pieces. The cheese filling was tangy and pasty, allowing stray filo flakes to adhere to it. I liked my bureka, but found it no more enjoyable than the filo pastries at Sahadi's in Brooklyn.
I then went next door to Max and Mina's. Every inch of this narrow storefront is plastered with something -- ancient magazine clippings, retro Hershey's signs, and framed newspaper clippings of the eatery's successes. The overall effect was cheery and haphazard, reminiscent of similar decor in Ben & Jerry's franchises. Sure enough, the counterhelp was clad in tie-dyed Max & Mina t-shirts. But on to the flavors:
I scrutinized the flavor list (there were actually three boards on the wall, so this photo only captures a third of the offerings). Choices on the other boards of note include "Sprite" and "Babka."
I was disappointed to learn that sweet corn, the flavor that had enticed me to M&M, was not being offered (it's seasonal, according from the wall clippings). I didn't see "Pizza" offered, either. I grilled the counter guy about the available flavors, including "Birthday Bash", which contains "french toast, pancakes and waffles," and also about "Frosted Flakes", which he said has "Frosted Flakes" in it. "Elephant's Dream" was a fancy term for peanut butter, and "Spicy Chummus" indeed contains hummos.
I wasn't feeling super, so I limited my tasting of the "unorthodox" flavors to "Its-A Garlic." This was probably a weak choice on my part, since I have actually already tasted garlic ice cream. During a college road trip, friends and I paid a visit to LA's branch of The Stinking Rose, a restaurant devoted entirely to garlic. I remember finding TSR's version to be surprisingly mellow, tasting of slow-roasted garlic. M&M's version -- however -- was much stronger, as if they had used RAW garlic. I made a face, and quickly handed my tasting spoon back to the counter guy. "What's good?" I managed to ask. He said their version of Cookie Dough was really good, and so that's what I ordered (Small $2.25).
And it was one of the best cups of Cookie Dough ice cream that I have ever tasted. The ice cream itself was incredibly smooth and creamy, in a way that makes you feel like a lucky kid instead of a guilty, indulgent adult. The chunks of cookie dough tasted exactly like something you'd scoop out of your mother's bowl of Toll House-in-progress, which is a nice contrast to the rock-hard pebbles of freezer burn that usually show up in this flavor. I'd give it an A-, and I'd love to try M&M's other "regular" flavors. I'd still like to try the corn too, when it's in season.
Max & Mina apparently sells pints, but you'd have to call to get retail locations. They apparently also create custom flavors for corporate clients.
Funky ice cream flavors are in vogue now:
>> Tien on Mary's Dairy which offers halvah-flavored ice-cream and "Hawaii 5-0", among other flavors.
>> Salli Vates on Chaa-Chaa and its offerings which include black bean coconut and black sticky rice flavors.
>> Sall also reports that Vosges Haut-Chocolate will soon offer flavors such as coconut white chocolate with curry and wattleseed
Max & Mina's
71-26 Main Street
Shimon's Pizza Falafel Dairy Restaurant
71-24 Main Street
Flushing, NY 11367
7 Train to Main Street/Flushing, Q20A/B Bus down Main Street (about 1.5 miles)