Bakery Review: Rainbow Bakery

Details: Located at 41-39 Kissena Blvd, Flushing NY 11355. Official website is https://rainbowbakeryny.com/

Score: 7/10

Rainbow bakery is a chain of Chinese bakeries. The specific location that I visited is a place of some notoriety. Within a couple of days of opening, an incidence of road rage caused a care to crash through the entrance into the bakery, destroying the business. Below is a news report on the incident.

It’s been a few months since then and Rainbow Bakery has renovated (again) and reopened. I felt the need to give some patronage given their past misfortune.

The first thing I noticed upon browsing is that the prices here are very competitive. This location is in downtown Flushing and there are a lot of Chinese bakeries here competing against each other. The prices of common items that each bakery produces is equal or even lesser than what I’ve seen in other local Chinese bakeries.

The quality is also equal or better. I had a cheese tart and a pork floss roll. Both were very good. Specifically, the cheese tart was like eating a very dense, cheesecake flavored foam. The pork floss roll was done slightly differently than other bakeries, but was about as good as you’d find elsewhere.

Overall, this place is great. It’s equal or slightly better than the other bakeries in the area. Additionally, they also had a menu in the back of cook to order dishes, dim sum, and some made to order desserts as well. I didn’t try any of those, but they looked good.

Tea Review: Ge Xian Weng Prunella-Mulberry-Chrysanthemum Herbal Tea

Details: I couldn’t find a site for this so here’s the Amazon site: https://www.amazon.com/Ge-Xian-Weng-Prunella-Chrysanthemum/dp/B001P6V0R0

Score: 7/10

I was originally bought this as a gift. It supposedly has some health properties related to Chinese ideas of inflammation and how herbily stuff has a positive effective on bodily energy… but I have no knowledge on any of that. All I can say is that this tea is extremely sweetened. As a result it tasted pretty good to me.

Inside the initial big package is about sixteen smaller pouches filled with the powdered tea and a bunch of sugar. You pour it in a cup, add boiling hot water and the stuff dissolves into a brownish colored drink.

Overall, this is very sweet, but pretty good. If you want unsweetened tea, this is not for you. There is a ton of white sugar in this.

Food Stall Review: Dim Sum Garden Express

Details: Here is an unclaimed Yelp page: https://www.yelp.com/biz/dim-sum-garden-express-flushing

Score: 7/10

With the coming of the pandemic, take out now reigns supreme if you want to eat out. As such, all food related business have either adapted to a take out model or gone out of business. Dim Sum Garden Express is a new food stall that specifically does this. Don’t be fooled by the compact nature of the food stall. The dim sum food here is cheaper than almost all of their competitors in the area while maintaining a level of quality about equal with those competitors as well.

They serve your standard dim sum stuff. Steamed roast pork buns, egg tarts, sticky rice rice in lotus leaf and siu mai are a few of the standard dim sum dishes they serve here.

What’s noteworthy about the dishes here is that the taste and quality is about equal to the other, big name dim sum restaurants in the area. What makes this place superior is that the price is lower. Take the sticky rice in lotus leaf for instance. The price of one of these things is usually around two to three dollars. Here, the price is about $1.75 if I remember correctly. That’s the price I used to pay for this item in 2012. It’s a good deal.

Worth mentioning is that like any bakery, the food you get here is best early in the morning and only gets worse as the day progresses. That’s because they make most of their food in the morning and keep it warm and let it sit afterwards. I recommend coming early in the morning if you want the food to be at its tastiest.

Overall, this is an average quality dim sum place with better than average dim sum price.

Food Stall Review: Shandong Time-Honored Brand (these are the only English words I could find on their packaging)

Details: Located at 136-21 Roosevelt Ave, Flushing, NY 11354. It’s in a small mall/food court. It’s in the food stall directly next to Joe’s Steam Rice Roll food stall. It’s a very small stall compared to Joe’s.

Score: 7.3/10

I originally found this place while wandering around one day not knowing what to eat. I remembered that there was this low key food court nearby and found this little food stall manned by a single woman. I bought one of her baos/breads and was instantly addicted to it. I’ve since visited this food stall at least once a week and often times a few times per week. The bao’s here are meaty, juicy, delicious and most importantly, relatively cheap.

Below is a picture of their menu/flyer.


There’s a backside to the flyer, but I haven’t tried anything from that side. Besides this place primarily focuses on their bread.

The bread here is generally filled with some kind of protein, vegetables and usually heavily spiced. What really captivates me is the texture of these stuffed breads. The bottom of the bread is very crispy while the top is flaky and browned. It’s interesting because these are Chinese style breads, but if you know anything about Chinese buns, they usually aren’t like this.

Usually, Chinese bao’s or buns are steamed. Also, the buns are mostly flour and water, resulting in an end product that is mostly fluffy. The bread here is browned, flaky and extremely crispy on the bottom. That means that there’s some butter or oil involved. I don’t think a tandoori was involved, but a tandoori oven where they stick the bread on the sides would likely have a similar effect on the bread. More practically, she probably used a normal oven and baked them on a special board that heats up well in order to crisp up the bottom of the bread while keeping the top flaky.

The style of this bread is a little different from your standard Chinese style breads, but I am so glad they did it because it is delicious. As an American, texture matters and the contrast in textures is wonderful. Your average, white, steamed Chinese breads lack not only the contrast in textures, but flavor since the dough is mostly flour and water. The bread here does not have that problem with the obvious use of either butter/oil.

I’ve tried a lot of the breads here so I’ll give a quick run down of a few of them and my opinion of the below. Keep in mind that the English names for these items are badly translated, so I’ll try to explain what they actually are.

The Orleans Chicken is the first item listed on their menu. Generally, when I go to a restaurant, I try to stick to the top of the menu because the top listed items are usually the best, most commonly ordered items there. As you got further down the menu, food generally becomes ordered less often, lower quality, and mostly not good. So you should be able to judge a place by the first few items they decide to list on their menu. With that in mind, the Orleans chicken is pretty damn good. It’s a baked bread stuffed mostly with white chicken meat and onions, along with a enough spices to color the filling reddish. It is not spicy though. It is very juicy despite being white meat. The top is brown and flaky while the bottom is crispy. At the price of three dollars, it is sufficiently portioned stuffed bread that you cannot go wrong with ordering.

The number two item on the list is their Black Pepper Beef bread. This is actually my favorite one I’ve tried so far since it is basically a well seasoned hamburger stuffed inside their signature bread. The burger patty is filled with onions and has a ton of pepper flavor, which is great since I love pepper, but I can see how some people might not love a substantial amount of pepper and be turned off from the thing.

Pork with plum dried vegetables is their third listed item. A more accurate name would be plum dried vegetables with pork since is it mostly vegetables with a bit of pork. It’s mainly pickled vegetables, so if you don’t like pickled stuff, you probably won’t like a bread filled with them. I found it to be a bit too much for me.

The spicy squid was the one I was most hesitant to try. I just wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a squid bao since that is not a traditional flavor. It’s actually mostly vegetables with a few strips of squid. Not the best thing on their menu.

The Fish-Flavored Pork bread is a very badly translated food item. It’s simply pork with vegetables and mostly root vegetables at that. I can’t name all the vegetables, but I saw some radish (I think…) and some wood ear mushrooms. I think the reason they called this Fish-Flavored Pork likely resulted from a mistranslation of the name of peppers that are included in this bread. There are some spicy, red peppers in this bread that give it a little kick. This is a spicy bread.

The Pork Filling with Sauce is simply fatty pork with eggplant. I normally love fatty meat. Fat equals flavor after all. However, this was bordering on too fatty even for me. They egg plant doesn’t help since the texture of the eggplant just makes the whole thing taste even fattier. This is one of the less appetizing bread’s on their menu.

I also tried the Cuming Lamb Stuffing one. Unlike the other breads, this one was priced at five dollars. This was good, but I think the Orleans Chicken and the Pepper Beef are just as good without costing two dollars extra.

I also tried the Wu Dalang Biscuit. It’s a flat bread with a spiced spread of either meat or tofu, I couldn’t be sure. Wrapped in it is some lettuce and a hot dog. It’s basically a Chinese style falafel. This wasn’t great and reinforces the notion that if you come here, just get the stuffed bread.

Overall, I love this place. All the breads I’ve tried are delicious, flaky on top and crispy on the bottom. With the exception of the Cumin Stuffed Lamb, all the breads I had were only three dollars… which is an amazing price give the portions and flavor. The only demerit I’ll give this place is that some of the breads I’ve bought were later in the afternoon or at night and the breads were a little cold. However, that’s an issue you’ll get at any any place that sells baked goods. The best time to get a stuffed bread from this place is early in the day when the baking is first done. The later in the day you get, the colder and worse the quality of the bread will be. Even still, I love this place.

Below are some more pictures of the bread.

Flaky top.
Pork with Plum Dried Vegatables filling. Probably my least favorite bread I’ve tried there, but still pretty good. Plus a shot of the crispy bottom.

Video Game Review: Genshin Impact

Details: I’ve played at least twenty hours, probably more. I have not spent a penny on this game. More information can be found at https://genshin.mihoyo.com/en

Score: 7.2/10

The most accurate name I’ve heard people call this game is “Breath of the Waifus.”

Genshin Impact is a free to play game that shamelessly copies the visual style and gameplay (and by copy, I mean it copies almost to the point of stealing) into a gacha game format. It’s a fun game for all the same reasons that Breath of the Wild was fun and annoyingly addictive for all the same reasons gacha games are addictive. This is a game with great presentation and likely a surprisingly high budget.

The story is about an interdimensional traveler who gets sent to a fantasy world with their twin sibling. Once there you get involved with the local people, fight bad guys, fight a dragon and a whole bunch of stuff that is pretty normal for most role playing video games.

The core gameplay is taken directly from Breath of the Wild. Like almost exactly. There is this big world for you to explore. The world is largely structured the same as Breath of the Wild. That means there’s mountains and rivers and some towns. The best part of Breath of the Wild is that you could climb a mountain and see the entire landscape. Then you could go to literally any point you just saw. Genshin Impact does that too.

Traversing the world in Breath of the Wild was one of it’s most positive aspects. Genshin Impact copies that almost exactly. There’s a stamina bar. You can climb any surface as long as you have stamina. You can dash as long as you have stamina. The one thing that’s different is that when it rains, you can still climb with no problems.

Combat is also almost exactly the same. Even many of the attack animations look like they were directly copied. The only thing about combat not copied is the use of magic.

The big differences come when we start talking about the gacha elements. In that way, the game is still unoriginal, they just folded gacha elements into Breath of the Wild gameplay.

In case you don’t know what gacha games are, they generally are cheaply made, free to play games meant to siphon money from players through gambling/slot machine mechanics. How it normally works is that you’ll download one of these games, usually on your smart phone, and you’ll play a bit. Then you’ll hit a wall in your progression that can only be overcome with a huge time investment or paying money to the game in exchange for what you need to progress further. But this isn’t a straightforward exchange. You normally buy a “loot box,” which is just a bundle of randomly generated in game items. The good items, which are the items you need, have a low chance of being generated while the trash items have a high chance of dropping. Hopefully, you’ll get what you want early on, but the probability is high that you will have to buy a ton of loot boxes before you get what you want. That’s the business model of a gacha game.

With that in mind, Genshin Impact is fun early on. I’d say it’s fun for the first ten to twenty hours. That’s pretty good considering this game is free to play. But then you hit the wall and you need to either invest a huge amount of time grinding in order to progress, or you could spend money gambling on whether you’ll get the in game items you need to move forward. And there are a lot of in game items in Genshin Impact.

Firstly are the characters. There are at this time around twenty-four available characters in the game. Each character has their own abilities and elements. During combat, you can swap between four available characters. As you play the game, you’ll learn that there is synergy between characters and their abilities. You’ll also learn which characters are good and which are trash, either by Googling it or through trial and error. The main way to get more characters is through loot boxes. At this time, there is a free character available, but I don’t know how that will play out in the future. The game was released like a week ago.

Then there is the equipment. There’s a ton of gear you can get, usually from treasure chests strewn across the land. Enemies don’t drop weapons. Gear is ranked between one and five stars. Four star and lower gear can be obtained through gameplay. Five star gear can only be obtained from loot boxes. Even then, the odds of obtaining one is very low. I have yet to see a five star weapon.

As expected from a gacha game, almost everything in this game can be leveled. Leveling is progression, which is what gacha games seek to block in exchange for real money.

For instance, the Adventure Rank is the most important level in the game. It controls whether you can progress in the story and whether gameplay mechanics can unlock. You can gain Adventure Rank only by doing things in the game. There is no way to directly purchase higher Adventure ranks. However, doing things in the game requires better gear and characters, which does require money. So Adventure Rank really acts as an umbrella form of progression under which the other loot box blocking kinds of progression in the game.

Characters and weapons can level up, but in order to do so, you need a complex slew of money and items. There’s just too many to properly discuss, but suffice it to say, paying real money will make it easier to obtain these items. Some of these items can be purchased directly from the in game shop. Others will have to be earned through grinding gameplay, which needs items and characters, which means real money for loot boxes.

In regards to how the loot boxes work in this game… it’s too complicated to explain. There are multiple forms of in game currency, many of which you can by and convert into other forms of in game currency for which to purchase loot boxes or other in game items. It’s a mess and it is likely deliberately so in order to confuse players and induce them into spending more money than they need to.

Despite the money grubbing loot boxes, there is cooperative multiplayer. Amazingly, the multiplayer is crossplay. That means that someone playing on their PS4 can play with someone on the XBOX or their computer. It’s amazing. But there is a limit to what you can do. Only up to four players can be in a game at a time and one person must be host. You can’t do main story missions or any of the many instanced dungeons in the game. You can do side quests and other world missions. Multiplayer is basically just for people to run around the world. Keep in mind, this is predominantly a single player game and multiplayer is more of a side thing to just screw around with your friends.

Visually, the world is beautiful… and looks like the world from Breath of the Wild. It looks like a direct copy. The art direction/style is exactly the same. The terrain, the sky, hell the grass looks exactly the same. Character animations looks the same. Combat looks the same. Everything looks the same.

Well, almost everything. This is a Chinese made video game, so there are a lot of Chinese elements in it. In the game world, there are two main sections. There’s a western fantasy part and a Chinese, wuxia fantasy part. Both parts are beautiful, but Breath of the Wild didn’t have none of that. As this is a free to play online game, I anticipate that more parts of the world will be released as time goes one. There’s probably going to be a desert, a snow area and a bunch of other commonly used fantasy terrain I imagine. I’m spit balling here.

The music is fantastic… and reminds me of melodies from other popular role playing games like Final Fantasy. Whether it is a copy or not, there are some beautiful tracks here. It’s almost entirely orchestral music.

I also love how this game is largely voice acted. Not only is there voice acting, there’s voice acting in multiple languages and they are all available to everyone. The voice acting is pretty good, too, in all the languages. It’s impressive as good voice acting is something that’s lacking in so many games.

Overall, I really enjoy Genshin Impact and will continues to play it in the near future. Personally, it’s the right game at the right time. I was just in the mood for something grindy and this gorgeous, free to play game dropped into my lap. The first dozen or so hours are really fun and they throw a few free loot boxes your way. However, this is still a gacha game. Soon enough, you will hit a wall in progression and if you want to see what happens in the story or defeat ever more power enemies, you will need to invest large amounts of time or real money.

Personally, I refuse to spend real money and don’t mind spending time. At least for now. At the time this review was written, the game has only been out four days. Who knows how things will change in the future, for better or worse. Even still, this is a beautiful, expansive world to explore and I enjoyed exploring it for amazing price of free.