Sheng Xiang Seafood Restaurant has just opened at 5318 8th Avenue near 53rd Street in Brooklyn, (718) 633-3383. The food is Fujian (a/k/a Fu-chien, Fukien, Foukien, Hokkien, etc.), from a part of Canton on the east coast just opposite Taiwan.
The first good sign was a dozen water tanks in the front, filled with clear water and fish actually moving around, plus living shrimp, crabs, lobsters and turtles.
The menu is full of items like Crispy Pork Intestine, Fried Duck Tongue, Rabbie (rabbit?) Fuchow Style, Goose Intestine in Wine Grain Sauce and Pork Blood w/ Any Style. (How many styles of pork blood can you name, offhand.)
There was an initial freebie of boiled peanuts with a light glaze -- lovely and interesting.
We had Fuchow Dumpling Soup (i.e., Suey Kow), which was quite good. Rather than half-moon dumplings, these were super-size wontons, with only a small amount of meat -- basically pasta flavored with meat The broth was pork-based and quite good.
Sauteed Snow Pea Shoots were predictably excellent, with just the right amount of slivered preserved ginger.
House Special Noodles were basically Dan Dan Noodles with no meat but lots of diced mushrooms -- again, excellent.
Curry Beef Casserole was long-stewed miscellaneous beef plus onions, taro, bell pepper, ginger and greens. Food for poor peasants, but amazing.
For dessert, Sweet Taro Pudding was battleship gray and only slightly sweet, but very good.
All of this came to $40 for two, including a generous tip, with enough to take home for two more meals.
The place is brand new and rather raw. Decor is non-existent. There’s no salt, pepper or soy sauce on the tables; individual plates are only 6 inches across; the chopsticks are lacquered and slippery, and you have to ask for a fork. Service is good, but self-conscious.
The dishes are not adapted to American tastes. The broth in the soup was unsalted and took a moment to get used to. The beef in the casserole was the cheapest possible cuts, including gristle and blood vessels, cooked forever to make it chewable.
Get there quick, while they’re serving the food as they themselves would eat it.