As a preface to this post, here’s a short lesson on the demographics of Chinatown. China is a huge place and has many different provinces with dialects as unintelligible to each other as English and Spanish. Manhattan’s Chinatown primarily has two different types of Chinese people: Cantonese people from Guangdong province and Fujian people mainly the city of Fuzhou in the Fujian province. Originally Manhattan’s Chinatown like most other Chinatown’s in North America was almost solely Cantonese, but overtime it’s slowly being taken over by Fujian people, which is quite unique among Chinatowns. The heart of the Fujian part of Chinatown is on Eldridge Street and parts of East Broadway.
Fu Zhou Cuisine is a typical Fujian restaurant on Eldridge in that it is a hole-in-the-wall that serves cheap Fujian xiao chi (literally translates to “small eats”). These restaurants line Eldridge and East Broadway and they all serve fairly similar dishes such as fish balls, noodles and dumplings among other things.
I’ve tried several of these places and generally have been a little underwhelmed by them, but I happened to try Fu Zhou Cuisine recently and decided it was definitely worth noting. The restaurant has about zero décor as it’s just a bunch of tables with an open kitchen. While there isn’t much service since you order at the counter and then sit down, one of the ladies who runs the place is really nice. This is a pleasant surprise because at most of these Fujian places the people are very gruff and the atmosphere is sort of serious even if you speak Chinese.
They’ve totally translated the menu into English, so you will have no issues with language. I’ve included a picture of the menu, the one dish that is not translated says yu tang, which means fish soup.
Here’s what we got:
Wheat Noodles with Peanut Sauce (Ban Mian): This is a very typical Fujian xiao chi dish. It’s a simple dish consisting of peanut sauce, soy sauce and diced scallions over wheat noodles. It tastes similar to sesame noodles you may have tried before. It’s a pretty tasty dish assuming you like peanut sauce. 7.5/10
Dumplings (Shui Jiao): This is why most people come here. These are steamed dumplings stuffed with pork and scallions and served with a semi sweet chili soy sauce. These are made very well, the skins are excellent not too thick or thin and the pork and scallion stuffing is quite flavorful and I like the sweet sauce they give you. These are some of the best dumplings in Chinatown. 8.5/10
Fish Balls (Yu Wan): Fujian fishballs are unique in that they stuff them with pork. The version here is pretty decent as they didn’t have the commercial rubbery texture that you get from factory made fish balls. However, the flavor is a little more bland than really good fishballs, which I think is a function of how Fujian fishballs are made rather than Fu Zhou Cuisine’s fishballs being lesser quality. Overall, these are pretty decent, but not amazing. 7.25/10
Wonton Soup (Bian Rou): The Fujian refer to these very thin delicate wontons as bian rou, which means “flat meat” in Chinese. It’s wontons with very thin skins in a light soup. There is a Fujian dish where they pound pork until it becomes very thin and use that as the wonton wrappers and I’m honestly not sure if these are them or not as the wrappers are very delicate and the name would suggest they are, but I should ask them next time. Anyhow, the wontons here are really good, they really delicate and tasty, but the soup has been inconsistent as it can be too salty. Overall, it’s worth trying if you’re there. 7.75/10 (8.5/10 for wontons, 7.25/10 for the soup, could’ve been a higher rating if the soup was a little less salty)
Overall, this is a place worth checking out if you happen to be in Chinatown and want some dumplings as these are definitely some of the best dumplings in Chinatown.
118 Eldridge St (between Grand St & Broome St)
New York, NY 10002