I decided to try one of the Fujian restaurants on Eldridge in the Fujian part of chinatown. I went with my chinese tutor, which as it turns out was very important. I picked a place by going to the place that was the most crowded place and that turned out to be Double Dragon by a long shot.
It's a long narrow restaurant that has a sort of hidden room in the back that you can't see from the outside. Every table was packed, the room was filled with smoke and everyone was drinking. I don't know if I've ever been intimidated by a chinese restaurant in NY, well I admit I was a little intimidated by this place. People say "oh this place feels like you're in China" well this place really feels like you're in China or in some small back alley restaurant in Taiwan. The menu is only in chinese. It seems like most of the customers are regulars as they were wandering around to the back and seemed to be very chummy with the staff. The staff does not speak english at all and I had a very hard time understanding what they were saying as they have a very thick fuzhou accent.
Also, we asked them what to order and they were nice, but clearly trying to up sell us to the most expensive items (conch, fresh fish etc). However, we looked at the other tables and tried to get what they were getting, which was the right move.
Here's what we got:
- jian long tou yu (pan fried dragon fish head): the name tells you nothing about what this dish is. It is in fact a pancake that is very similar to Korean pajun except I thought it was better. It's very crispy on the outside, but has that semi gooey interior that the korean pajun has except it wasn't as gooey, "long you yu" are those small silver fish, but I didn't actually see any pieces of seafood in the dish, I think they minced it and put it in the batter. There is also some type of green vegetable in it that I couldn't identify. There is a slight seafood taste, but not in a fishy or bad way, mixed with the crispy texture and it turned out excellent. I would definitely get this again...the best way to describe this is like korean pajun, but probably better
- zhao jiao shao niu rou (beef with peppers): this was very thin strips of beef sauteed with green spicy peppers in a sauce that used oyster sauce, but it was pretty light (not gooey or drenched in sauce) and it had a good wok flavor. It's a spicy b/c of the peppers. I thought this was a good dish. The sauce was nice, the oyster sauce flavor was good and it was prepared nicely with the good wok flavor. I'd order this again.
- tian bai wan zai: we ordered this on a whim. this is a soup that sort of looks like egg drop soup, but its sweet with stands of egg white and yolk that looks like sheets in the wind qnd then has small tang yuan (small rice dough balls) in it. The soup was just okay, it tasted like hot water with sugar and egg in it. The tang yuan were decent nice and soft. I've had a soup like this once a long time ago, but it was better. I thought it was just so so.
- boiled peanuts and picked radish (luo buo gao): we saw this on everyone's table, the waitress told us that they give it to the customers that are drinking (think beer snacks). The boiled peanuts were good and the pickled radish was good as well it was a bit sweet and nice and crunchy.
Overall, this was surprisingly good. I've generally been underwhelmed by Fujian food and anyone who reads my posts knows that I'm biased towards certain southern chinese foods, but this was good and I'd definitely go again. Now the unfortunate part about this place is that you definitely need someone who speaks chinese and really you need someone who can read chinese. My chinese isn't good and I would've had a hard time getting by at this place if I didn't have my tutor with me as I had a hard time understanding their accent. As far as fujian food I am far from an expert, but this was the best fujian meal I've had in NY.
13 Eldridge St, New York, NY 10002