Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fu Run: A menu of unusual delights

More often than not, when I look at a menu from a Chinese restaurant, I find typos. Not to say that non-Chinese restaurant menus don't have errors, because they do. But I notice it often in Asian places because they tend to be the most hilarious. Take the printed menu from Fu Run, in Flushing, as an example. In addition to the "sliced photo w. special sauce" and "sliced of stomach in hot oil" you see above, there were also "deep fried bondless spare ribs" and "braised rips" on offer. Not to mention "seafood w. blotch soup." I spent the first ten minutes laughing at the menu and then poking my dad to make him read me the Chinese names. In some cases, there was no other way to figure out what the dishes really were.

But I still have no idea what "sliced photo" is.
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I was at Fu Run with my family after my parents had gone ballroom dancing all afternoon (one of their frequent amusements). My brother had suggested the restaurant after reading about it on Chowhound, where it was first discussed when it went by the name "Waterfront International." Now it only goes by a Chinese name which has been translated to English as "Fu Run," though reviews for Waterfront International still sit in the window. From what I've gathered the menu has either remained the same or is very similar.

I let my mom and brother do all the ordering, as I was too busy giggling over the menu. Fu Run has a lot of specialties from the Northeast region of China, and they picked out some of the more unique ones, such as the above dish of "country style green bean sheet jelly," a refreshing cold mung bean noodle salad with shreds of pork, cucumbers, carrots, and wood ear mushrooms tossed in peanut sauce and a final drizzle of wasabi oil.
The zhajiang mien we ordered was disappointing, making the just-okay jajangmyeon I'd had recently seem awesome. The noodles were too soft and the sauce just tasted oily.
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Two other dishes we had, though, packed strong flavor punch: the "shredded pork stomach in fresh hot pepper" (on the left) and the casserole of pork with sour cabbage and pig blood cake (on the right). With its crunch of barely sauteed hot peppers and chewy shreds of pork stomach in a salty sauce, the former was definitely the kind of dish you call xia fan. The sour, meaty casserole was hearty and warming in the belly.
My favorite dish of the night was, hands-down, the crispy lamb in chili pepper. While it wasn't particularly crispy, I found the pieces of meat tender and chewy at the same time as well as redolent with a rich array of spices, the strongest being toasty cumin. It was a little gamier than usual—the fat in lamb, I think, is what holds the funkiness—but that's also part of why I couldn't stop sneaking pieces of it into my mouth.
We had ordered a lot of food for four people but still couldn't pass up the opportunity to get dessert, which in this case was the "mixed sweet delights" dish of taro, sweet potato, apple, and banana. The pieces of fruit and potato are deep fried and then tossed in sugar, which caramelizes into a rich syrup. When you pull off a piece, gooey strands follow your chopsticks until you plunge the piece into a bowl of ice water, whereupon the sugar instantly hardens, creating a crisp candy shell around a hot center. Fun! Despite the description on the menu our plate didn't seem to have any banana; I wasn't as fond of the apple, so I stuck mostly to the taro and sweet potato. Next time I'd probably just order the taro, as it was my favorite and cost three bucks less for the same amount as the mixed version.

Fu Run had a bunch of specials written in Chinese on the wall, which none of us noticed until after the meal. Too bad—it's not often that I eat out with my parents (we're more about the home-cooked feast) and so I won't be able to have them translate should I return. With so many unique offerings on the menu, I wouldn't mind going back to explore.


  1. MMM, I want to try this place out, and laugh at their menu. Lon asked me what I was laughing about because I started laughing so loud.

  2. Ha! I used to live in northeast China, and I was looking at those dishes thinking nothing looked all that familiar until the last. Basi digua! Well, a variant, anyway. That's one specific dish I do miss.

  3. Jess, you should really see the rest of the menu. My dad was actually indignant over how many typos there were, saying it made Chinese people look bad. Hahahaha.

    Kitt, I actually don't know very much about northeast China's cuisine. What are its specialties? And I loved that last dish...yum!

  4. That dessert looks mad good and I'm not much of a sweets person... srsly! Mmm. It looks OUT OF THIS WORLD.

    PS I learned how to make panna cotta (easiest thing ever) and perhaps if I'm still feeling flush in a few months when you return, I will share so you will know what GOOD panna cotta tastes like... ;) (the comment about being flush because the honey I used is super pricy)

  5. Yvo, I'm not a dessert person either, so you're in good hands when I say it was tasty. Panna cotta sounds excellent. I would love to try it from an expert!

  6. I'm not sure how I just recently heard about Fu Run, but I'm glad I was able to dig up your write-up before making my first visit :] The "mixed sweets" reminds me of a dish my mom makes by coating pan-fried sweet potatoes in a mix of honey and brown sugar on low heat, until the edges are crunchy. I can't wait to try it!