Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >
Aug 8, 2010 10:36 PM

Is this on any menu in L.A.?

Having just seen Stephen Chow's fantastic film "God of Cookery" (should be required viewing at Chowhound U., by the way), I am reminded of that most elusive of Chinese dishes...

Buddha Jumping Over Wall (佛跳墙). I last had this dish a long time back in Asia. It was (as they say)... All that, and a bag of chips.

Yes, I know it takes 2 days to prepare properly, and would probably be astronomically expensive. But is there any restaurant in L.A. (or O.C. or S.D.) offering this dish on advanced order? And if so, is it any good?

As always, Thanks in Advance!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Is it anything like Ants Climbing A Tree?

    1 Reply
    1. re: monku

      Not even slightly. Ants Climbing a Tree is ground pork sauce on rice noodles. Fo Tiao Qiang (Buddha Jumps The Wall) is shark's fin soup with a bunch of other insanely expensive bits and pieces in it.

      I personally have never sought it out, because it contains shark's fin, but I would think any Cantonese banquet hall could do it, for a price and with enough advance notice.

    2. My recollection is that LA Master Chowhound Jerome arranged with a SGV restaurant in advance to do this dish. I don't think it's a standard menu item anywhere....


        1. re: monku

          Yup. That's what I'm talkin' about...

            1. re: J.L.

              You better start rounding up 13 more friends.

        2. J.L.

          Funny you should ask about 佛跳牆.

          I just had this at Elite last week. You just need a minimum of 8 hours notice (call in the morning and you can have it that night -- although a 24 hour notice is preferred).

          Specify how many are in your party and they'll tailor the size of the dish (you are recommended to have at least 6-8 people minimum, 10 is optimal as it fills up the traditional Chinese lazy-Susan table, but it's really up to you).

          Enjoy (oh, and can I come along?)

          12 Replies
          1. re: ipsedixit

            I just want to say that it's really funny that Google Translate says that 佛跳牆 means "pretenders" in English (as this sort of recipe seems like someone pretending or being pretentious perhaps?).

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Maybe she'll do a version of

              Can't you feel 'em circlin', honey
              Can't you feel 'em swimmin' around
              You got fins to the left, fins to the right
              And you're the only bait in town
              Oh oh
              Oh oh
              You got fins to the left, fins to the right
              And you're the only girl in town

              and bring it all "full circle"?

              1. re: Servorg

                Ok, your Google translation got me and some my techie friends' curiosity piqued.

                So they did a little sleuthing and they think it's sort of an inside joke by Google engineers of the Fujianese persuasion. If you believe the legend of this dish -- i.e., how the aromas of this dish enticed a Buddhist monk to jump over the wall and forsake his religious beliefs to partake of the meats and seafood -- you'll get the joke why the Google translation turns up "Pretenders"

                Sort of like how way way back when MS Word would used correct "zzzz" as "sex" in the spellchecker.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              ipsedixit - how much is it at elite?? is it pretty good thr??

              1. re: namstermonster

                I'm really the wrong person to ask whether the dish was any good. To me 佛跳牆 is more akin to a garbage pale plate than anything else.

                If I'm going to have shark's fin, I prefer it to be a bit more uncluttered, and focused more on creatures of the sea. When you add everything else in 佛跳牆-- the chicken, pork, etc. -- it sort of clutters it up.

                The others in our party seemed to enjoy it, although I think some of them were taken more by the novelty than anything else.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Hi ipsedixit,

                  I totally agree. :) That was my impression the 3 or 4 times I've had it. :)

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    There may be as many versions of the legendary dish that got vegetarian monks to eat animal protein as there are Chinese chefs! As I recall, the $70.00 a bowl version on the lunch menu at my local restaurant mentioned shark fin and sea cucumbers, and I think abalone. I don't recall the menu mentioning anything that didn't live in water. But then, I only read the menu. I don't do $70.00 a bowl soup for lunch. Or dinner, in most cases! '-)

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Say if you had 10 people, how much would it run per person? $60 or more, maybe less?

                  1. re: Delicious Bass

                    To: namstermonster and Delicious Bass

                    Like with everything in a Chinese restaurant that is specially ordered, it is negotiable. Part of it will depend on whether you're using real shark fin, if real, it's going to be more than $60/person.

                    I don't know how much it was when I had it as I was not the one with the "honor" of handling the check.

                    Cheers and enjoy.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Check Lu Din Gee. Had it there with colleagues a few years ago. 24 hour notice.

                      1. re: Food_destroyed_my_life

                        LDG is now Duck House
                        501 S. Atlantic Blvd. Monterey Park, CA 91754 (626) 284 3227

                3. It is available.
                  Man - peopel can be so opiionated on an opinion boad, no?
                  i had a meal a while back at FOO CHOW on Hill st. They make their own red rice wine, (you hvae to ask for it, if they're in the mood they'll give it to you).
                  TI's not a shark fin dish. It has about 30 protein ingredients in it. I t takes them about 3 days to make it - with reconstituting dried ingredients, cooking things, and then assembling and final cooking. There are dried, fresh, and preserved ingredients, field, sea and air. It's not as odd as some of the game you find on Yue menus. It's a min dish - fujian, (hokkien) style food. You tend to get the flavors just intensified - not as stir-fried, no black bean sauces. Some use of red rice wine lees, etc.
                  The dish isn't on the menu. You have to call or stop by. Give them a credit card. the price I was quoted was $360 or so. It feeds 10 people. It's not a whole meal - you should probably get a few more dishes. i thought about organizing a dinner via the yahoo group here once, but coudln't get it together.
                  I would suggest you line up a group of ten. Let them know that dinner will be about $50 a pop, minimum. Set up a range of days with your friends, and then go finalize the discussion with Foo Chow.

                  It is hardly the most elusive of chinese dishes.

                  at all
                  Foo Chow
                  949 North Hill Street
                  Los Angeles, CA 90012-1714
                  (213) 485-1294
                  hope you like it

                  the legend is not that a buddhist monk jumped the wall, but that the Buddha (sakyumuni) himself...

                  the Buddha was sitting in his walled garden, meditating.
                  A man from Fujian set up a cauldron outside the garden and started to cook up a stew. He put in lamb and beef and pork and shark's' fin and all kinds of fish and scallops and sea cucumbers and chickens and ducks and all kinds of game. And the enticing fragrance wafted over the wall.

                  And the Buddha smelled it.

                  And was so entranced - say tempted - say seduced by the aroma that he couldn't wait to simply walk through the gate of his garden to taste the dish, he JUMPED over the wall.
                  Fo Tiao Qiang - Buddha Jumps Over the Wall.