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Chinese Carmelized Apple (or other fruit - ba si style) in Chinatown?

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Does anyone know of a good chinese restaurant in Manhattan (preferably Chinatown) that offers a good ba si ping guo (拔丝苹果) or other fruit? Sometimes it's called carmelized fried apple/bannana pineapple. I used to eat this dessert a lot in Beijing but haven't seen it in America.

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  1. I've never seen it in Manhattan's Chinatown, but interestingly, the weekly street fair that migrates all around the city has a lot of (non-Chinese owned) stands that sell it.

    1. Many Chinese restaurants in Manhattan serve some version of it, most often Fried Banana, but the ones closer to the way you would have had it in Beijing are served in Northeastern Chinese restaurants in Flushing, such as the previously named "Waterfront Int'l Enterprises" (don't know the new name now, nor if it has remained the same cuisine, at Prince between Roosevelt and 40th rd, I think?). I agree it's highly addictive how a huge plate of extremely hot deep fried chunks of fruits (also sweet potato, and/or taro) drizzled with carmelized sugar comes to the table, and you must get it while it's hot, and dip it into a bowl of ice cold water, and then carefully bite down on the piece that's now crunchy and cool on the outside, but still piping hot on the inside. Once everything cool down inside and out though, it can get kind of tough to eat, so this is another one of those eating experience that guides you to be at the moment :). Anyway, this is the more authentic version of "ba2 si1" 拔丝 that I've had in Zhengzhou China as well as in Flushing's Chinatown.

      I don't think the versions i've had in Manhattan have you dipping it in cold water. I think most commonly here it's more like cut bananas dipped in batter and then fried. Quite tame by comparison to the Northeastern Chinese style.

      Cimui, are you speaking of the version that's more like a candy-coated little crab apples? I've not seen any street fairs that serve the true 拔丝 fried fruit as it would probably be hard to execute.

      8 Replies
      1. re: HLing

        I am talking about the candy-coated fruit. Sorry for my confusion!

        1. re: cimui

          Waterfront International has it as HLing states up there. I had it in Beijing and yes it is addictive. You can order it at Waterfront International as a mixture of sweet potato, apples, and bannanas. Which they typically would serve it as a dessert. If you get it just with sweet potatoes you normally eat it with your meal. The only problem is that they serve it already dipped in the sugar and bring out cold water for dipping (hardening the sugar) which can harden on its own when cooled, so you have to rush to eat it otherwise you will have a difficult time.

          In Beijing they served it to me with a pot of hot sugar and a bowl of water with ice cubes. Which makes it more easier to eat. Fun dish to eat.

        2. re: HLing

          That's exactly what I'm looking for. I live in NJ right now so don't make it up to New York as frequently as I'd like, and consequently haven't spent any time in Flushing but it sounds like a trip is in order. Nothing beats biting into the cool crunchy sweet shell only to reveal steaming hot banana! Thanks

          1. re: HLing

            i love the fried sweet potato dipped in caramelized sugar you describe. had it in taiwan and couldn't figure out where to get it around here. Thanks!

            1. re: FattyDumplin

              I think I remember somebody here reporting that you can get it at Hyo Dong Gak, a Korean-Chinese restaurant on 35th between 5th and 6th.

              1. re: Miss Needle

                oh you know i think ure right...i think i saw it on the menu last time

                1. re: Miss Needle

                  ok so i tried it tonight at hyo dong gak b/c we were going there anyhow since my gf's sister wanted korean-chinese

                  they have it, they use sweet potatoes...however they don't give you the cold water b/c i think they do it right before they give it to you...it is very hot on the inside, but relatively cool on the outside

                  it is tasty although i wouldn't say amazing

                  1. re: Lau

                    Thanks for reporting back. I haven't had it in a long, long time. I hope it tastes as good as I remember.

            2. i've actually seen it being sold by random street vendors in the fujian part of chinatown.

              specifically the last two times i saw it at the following:
              - once under the bridge on east bway bet market st and forsyth on the southside of the street, the guy was either part or right next to the little vendor that sells "green sandwich" that people talk about (which i hate btw...its like a crappy mantou with mustard greens), you can't miss the vendor b/c its this little take-out stand with sheng jian bao and all types of greasy xiao chi and pastry type stuff
              - the other time i saw it was on pike st bet e bway and division, right in front of where all the buses that take people to philly, boston and dc

              that said, i have no idea whether they were good or not and there wasn't like lines of people getting them and i can't guarantee they are still there b/c they were pretty random street vendors.

              Hling - i think he's talking about the kind that is on sticks, has hard carmelized sugar stuff on the outside and you can find all over the streets in taiwan

              10 Replies
              1. re: Lau

                How interesting - are there also other "regional" parts of Chinatown? Would be interested in knowing more!

                1. re: MMRuth

                  not really, there are basically two parts of chinatown. there is the old chinatown (i.e. old cantonese / toisan part of ctown) which the main area that you are probably familiar with, but when you hit confucius plaza (there is a big statue) it starts to become more and more fujian as you walk down east broadway and by the time you get to the bridge (i.e. market street) everything is fujian (so basically easy of the bridge everything is fujian for the most part)

                  if you're really curious to see the difference, first go into dynasty supermarket on hester and listen to people talking and it will be mainly cantonese...then walk down east broadway and when you go under the bridge (on the southside across from the street from the east broadway mall), enter the little mall (mall is a generous term, its mainly random little vendors selling cell phones, jewelry etc), pass through it and there is a super market behind the little mall (it's kind of a hidden, but surprisingly fairly large super market) and all you will hear is fujian dialect and some mandarin...its a pretty stark contrast as that i was thinking about the other day when i went to both

                  interestingly enough the only thing that new york has that other major chinese cities in the US don't is a significant fujian population (i.e. LA / SF have light years better variety and quality of food and just more chinese people)....i'm not super familiar with their food b/c there wasn't many fujian people in LA that i'm aware of although i might be more familiar with it than i think b/c taiwan is directly across from fu zhou and i am familiar with taiwanese food (i believe alot of taiwanese people are of fujian decent, taiwanese is a dialect of fujian as well...although taiwanese people in the US never seem to want to believe me when i tell them that)

                  i'm actually pretty curious to get a better feel for their food (aside from super taste which i eat at pretty religiously although thats not even fujian food its techincally noodles from lan zhou)

                  1. re: Lau

                    Thanks to you both - that is fascinating ... I'm bound and determined to overcome my chowish fear of Chinatown ;-).

                    1. re: Lau

                      The only places I know of you find concentrations of Fujianese folk are New York and Philadelphia. Virtually none on the West Coast, hence New Yorkers have a chance to experience something that the rest of us don't. It took me the longest time to figure out why the Fujian fish balls on Eldridge were so completely different from any fish balls I had ever eaten. There is actually a good reason for the concentration of Fujianese. Look how Fujianese traverse the country. They first arrive on something like the Golden Eagle, then they use the employment agencies around the Manhattan Bridge to find a job somewhere on the East Coast or Midwest, riding Chinese bus lines that start and end by the Bridge. Want a new job? Back to the Manhattan Bridge. No way any of them are going to get to California in these TSA travel days.

                    2. re: MMRuth

                      NY Chinatown was originally Cantonese, and the original core remains large Cantonese to this day. The expansion portion of Chinatown, essentially east of Bowery is largely Fujianese since that's where all of the new migrants have come from. In contrast, Flushing's Chinatown has a strong Taiwanese and non-Cantonese influence though there are a lot of good Cantonese restaurants there because Cantonese is the best regional cuisine. Incidentally I believe Waterfront International is now called Fu Run, but it's essentially the same operation as before.

                    3. re: Lau

                      lau, the little crab apple on a stick (ands many other fruits) are called Bing 1 Tang2 Hu2 Lu2, and originally is made with the sour fruit that's called Shan1 Zha1. they are beautifully strung on a stick and yes I've seen them in Chinatown, near the Fujian area. This was what Cimui was also talking about.

                      The poster is looking for "Ba Si " fruits, which is usually served in restaurants. no sticks, but chunks, and should be eaten soon after it's made; whereas the Bing Tang Hu Lu can be eaten anytime. one main difference is that there are no deep frying of the fruits involved in the version on a stick, also these fruits are coated in a bright red hardened candy, the Ba Si are just in the natural golden caramel.

                      1. re: HLing

                        ahhh thx for clarification...your chinese is light years better than mine

                        man i love those fruit on a stick in taiwan, i have a feeling that if i get them here they're going to be disappointing

                          1. re: Lau

                            The Hu Lu in Bing Tang Hu Lu refers to the Chinese bottle shape gourd. I was never able to find out why this candied fruit is referred as Hu Lu. The candied fruit is generally made from Haw fruit and not Hu Lu. Perhaps it is because the stack of haw fruits create a sinuous shape reminiscence of the bottle gourd.

                            1. re: redcook

                              I've seen at least one seller of the red fruit walking on the street (either on E-broadway or division) He's pretty hard to miss since her carries the sticks of fruit in what I assume is the traditional manner; stuck into a device that looks like a bamboo patio torch. he's usually around the bridge