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FU RUN DINNER

There have been many reports of this restaurant (see this, for starters)

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5728...

But last night, our group of 10 enthusiastic diners tried a few dishes that were new to us. Although they may not be new to others, here is a (very) brief report of a fabulous meal:

On previous occasions, our large group has been seated in the private room behind a door visible in the main room. Although we were offered this room, we declined, as we had found it both crammed and cut off from the main action in the dining room. We want to see the dishes that neighboring tables are enjoying--how else to discover new "finds?"

Our first waitress spoke no English but she summoned her "boss," Kary, who took good care of our table of novices.

This is what we shared:

Cold Appetizers:

MUSHROOM WITH CUCUMBER. At first glance, this looked like a heaping tangle of shredded cucumbers and thin wheat noodles. The "noodles," though, are actually mushrooms (needle mushrooms,or enoki). Light, tasty, wonderful. No spice. A good, bracing opener.

CELERY WITH DRIED BEAN CURD. An old favorite. Shreds of bean curd that were wider than at Spicy and Tasty. While this dish was not quite as fabulous at the rendition at S&T, it was excellent, and well received at our table.

Hot Appetizers:

SCALLION PANCAKE. The dud of the night. Too thick and doughy. Little flavor of scallions and, in fact, the ratio of flour to scallions was too high. On the plus side, it was not greasy.

CLAM WITH GINGER AND SCALLION (this, and the following dish, are not listed under "appetizers" on the menu, but they were a good choice for the opening round): The clams were a knockout. Very small, reminded me of the vongole vercaci in Italy. To say that this dish was tasty would be a huge understatement. A mess of garlicky,, gingery goodness. I could not get enough of these! One order, with a plain noodle, would make a wonderful lunch. Essential.

DRIED TOFU WITH FRESH HOT PEPPER. A knockout. The texture of the bean sheets, tossed with the sometimes spicy and sometimes not, slices of green pepper, make for a compelling signature dish. Also essential.

Following the suggestion of Kary, we ordered two portions of another signature dish, MUSLIM LAMB CHOPS. This is a "Drop what you are doing right now and make haste to Fu Run!" dish.
The racks of lamb, smothered in a medley of dry spices which included but was not limited to cumin and (I think) caraway, is marinated for several days and then roasted in the oven. At least this is how I understood the description of the preparation process. Two orders was just about sufficient for 10 not-so-ravenous diners, along with other dishes. A very hungry diner could demolish one order by his or her self. The combination of fat, crisp skin, luscious falling-off-the-bone meat, and the crust of spices left me speechless.

We rounded off the meal with:

SQUID ON A SIZZLING PLATTER. The platter came to the table with sizzling sound effects and covered in a paper towel which we were instructed to leave on the plate for a few minutes until the sizzle died down. I thought the squid was a bit tough. Good, not essential.

WATERCRESS WITH GARLIC. Good. Very garlicky.

EGGPLANT IN GARLIC SAUCE. Chunks of peeled eggplant in another magical combo of textures and flavors--sour, salty, sweet, spicy...downright fabulous! Essential.

KUNG PAO CHICKEN. I did not taste but those who did were very pleased.

This will not be our last dinner at Fu Run. With beers, the bill totalled $19 per person before tip.

-----
Fu Run
40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

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  1. Very inexpensive!

    How would you compare the quality of your food with Spicy & Tasty, overall?

    And one question for those in the know: I think of scallion pancakes as a Shanghainese specialty. Are they also recognized as part of Sichuan cuisine?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Pan

      But Fu Run vs. Spicy & Tasty is apples vs. oranges. The former specializes in Dongbei food from the northeast. The latter is a Sichuan restaurant.

      -----
      Fu Run
      40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

      Spicy & Tasty
      39-07 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

      1. re: squid kun

        Oh, I didn't realize Fu Run was a Dongbei restaurant. Apples and oranges, indeed!

        1. re: squid kun

          They are always on the menu at Shanghai places but the wheat, "bing-like" pancake would seem to indicate a more northern origin. There also seem to be similar dishes in Korea and there is overlap between DongBei and Korean traditions.

          Others here will know more..I am also curious

          1. re: erica

            I am not sure of where the first Scallion Pancake was made but it is found all over China nowadays. News Flash! A small tempest has broken out in Hualien ("the Chicago of Taiwan") where a 96 year-old man named Cai Zhengui claims to have been the first one to add a simple fried egg to the cooked Scallion Pancake to create the Dan Bing - 蛋饼 - Scallion Pancake with Egg.

      2. Thanks erica! Glad you liked the Muslim Lamb Chop. Isn't that a signature dish? Glad to know it still can wow the masses.

        1. no "ba shi" dessert? taro, banana or sweet potato?

          2 Replies
          1. re: bigjeff

            No--I had the dessert before and really liked it but the suggestion of ordering was met with cries of "I am too stuffed!" I did notice what someone else here had remarked on..this dish was served to the tables of Asian eaters at the same time as the lamb and other savory dishes, not as a dessert course.

            Yes, the Muslim Lamb is a signature dish--that was not clear in the original report..I am still thinking about it!

            I love the idea of the ongoing tempest in Hualien, a city that I admit I had not heard of before..I certainly would like to try Dan Bing, though..

            1. re: erica

              Thank you 'hounds for finding this place. We had many of the favorites listed above. Muslim lamb chops caused me to completely re-think the concept of spice rubs. I wish I could figure out how they make it stick to the meat.

              -----
              Fu Run
              40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

          2. Finally made it to try Fu Run -- another veggie feast (what else?):

            MIXED VEGETABLES W. GREEN BEAN SHEET JELLY: spicy, tangy, refreshing goodness: raw cabbage, cucumber hunks, peanuts, noodle-like strips of "jelly," cilantro tossed in a red chili-studded sauce that also combined vinegar and sesame oil and maybe fermented soy beans (?) -- this as our favorite dish of the meal (admittedly, we were all spicy food lovers and this was the spiciest dish we tried); a bit oily, though

            TOFU STEW IN CASSEROLE: cabbage, wood ear and firm tofu in a mild broth -- this was enjoyable but the flavors weren't a "home run"...pehaps a bit too mild?

            TRIPLE DELIGHT VEGETABLES: potato, green pepper and eggplant in a mildly salty/savoury/galicky brown-colored sauce; the sauce was a bit gloopy and again the flavors weren't amazing, though this dish was tasty enough.

            DRIED TOFU W/FRESH HOT PEPPER: this didn't look like much -- small square-shaped sheets of pressed/dried tofu and mildy spicy green peppers in a mildly garlicky sauce -- but the flavors were unexpectedly fragrant, and the tofu sheets absorbed these and perhaps amplified them (is that possible?)

            SWEET POTATO, TARO AND APPLE (BA SHI) DESSERT: what's not to love about Materials Science in action at the dinner table (full disclosure: my dining companions just happened to be materials scientists and got a big kick out of explaining the science underlying this treat...)? This was just as fun to try as I had hoped -- and the crisp, sugary exterior and piping hot savory/rooty interiors were perfectly matched.

            The Chinese food expert in our group (from Hubei) told us that northeast Chinese food is typically very mild and meat and noodle intensive. Some of Fu Run's dishes are apparently popular favorites from other regions (e.g., anything with cumin and anything spicy -- like our sheet jelly app.).

            -----
            Fu Run
            40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

            3 Replies
            1. re: CitySpoonful

              I am glad you enjoyed your meal at Fu Run and were able to find vegetarian chow. Actually the food of Manchuria (or Dongbei) is not noodle intensive - millet was and is the most important grain. They usually like to put it their rice if they are serving it. Wheat and sorghum are also popular. Manchurian fare is marked by hearty meals centered on meat and fresh and pickled vegetables. Their cuisine also has influences from Mongolia, Korea, Russia and Japan. Manchurian cuisine is not mild but is known known for strong flavors, lots of dumplings and a large variety of cold dishes. Raw fish might be served to start the meal. Garlic seems to be used but not too much ginger.

              1. re: scoopG

                scoopG, thanks for clarifying re: noodles and Dongbei food. Perhaps I misunderstood my friend.

                Interesting that Fu Run serves up a few multi-regional dishes -- not just typical northeastern fare. Sort of like fiding dosas at a Punjabi restaurant. Wonder how common that is in Flushing...?

                -----
                Fu Run
                40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

                1. re: CitySpoonful

                  Not that they don't have noodles though! I think some of these influences spread. Even M&T (a Shandong spot) serves up a famous Taiwanese dish called Three Cup Chicken!

                  -----
                  SN New Restaurant
                  44-09 Kissena Blvd, Queens, NY 11355

            2. I hadn't been to Fu Run since it opened as Waterfront International several years. Thanks to City Spoonful for bringing it up again. Here's my semi-heretical report.

              I probably ordered wrong on my one visit to Waterfront Intl, and may have done that again. I was with a small group foodies who never read Chowhound unless I send them a link, so they had little idea what to expect. I let them do most of the ordering except for the one mandatory dish.

              Shrimp and Pork Dumplings - I can't remember the last time I had shrimp dumplings. I thought they might have ground shrimp for the filling. But with one big chunk of shrimp on one side and a little pork on the other, the filling was very dry. The skins were pretty thick too. I'll stick to lamb or pork dumplings in the future.

              Shredded Beef with Spicy Sauce - There was no real sauce, just sauteed beef and whole roasted peppers, with no filler. The beef was tender and with whole peppers, it was easy to eat or skip the peppers. Very flavorful. This was my favorite dish of the night. Everyone else loved it too.

              Pork with Green Bean Sheet Jelly - Thick noodles with some shredded pork, sliced garlic, a few carrot slivers, some cilantro, and a hint of vinegar. No spice, no oil, no real flavor. This was our least favorite dish. We should have tried the vegetarian version as described by City Spoonful.

              Muslim Lamb Chop - It was exactly as everyone else has described. I loved the dry rub and used the leftover spices on my leftover rice. But the lamb? Ehh. I found it much too fatty. The pieces without too much fat were wonderful. Maybe it was just the way we randomly divvied it up? My dining companions all loved it and can't wait to come back and get it again, but they all think fat should be at the bottom of the pyramid. I much prefer the Cumin Lamb at Little Pepper and all the other Dongbei places.

              Apple "Sweet Dish" - There was nothing wrong with this dish but we all agreed that it reminded us of apple pie filling. That's fine, but $9 for about three apples was a bit much. I'd rather have traded in half for some cheesecake and chocolate mousse.

              So I understand what everyone loves about Fu Run, but maybe it just wasn't for me. I'm sure I'll be back though for another try at the Muslim Lamb Chop.

              -----
              Fu Run
              40-09 Prince St, Queens, NY 11354

              Little Pepper
              18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356

              14 Replies
              1. re: el jefe

                El Jefe, you made the fatal mistake of getting the apple for dessert instead of the taro. The apple has that unpleasant gritty-apple texture and does indeed taste like apple pie. It's really not even in the same ballpark as the taro.

                Listen to City Spoonful-- the vegetarian version is probably the better one. Make sure you get the version with the horseradish oil.

                1. re: ChiefHDB

                  Horseradish oil?? I don't know what that is, but I love it already!

                  (I thought it was just sesame oil, vinegar, and maybe some sort of fermented soy beany thing going on in the green bean sheet jelly app.)

                  1. re: CitySpoonful

                    Maybe it was mustard oil? I need to check my notes.

                    1. re: ChiefHDB

                      I'm hoping it was horseradish oil. That sounds like a dream come true.... Did you have to ask for that specially when you ordered?

                      1. re: CitySpoonful

                        Nah it's on the first page of the menu. There were 2-3 versions of the green been sheet jelly dish.

                        1. re: ChiefHDB

                          I'm pretty sure that it's been made with mustard oil the times I've had it (one of my favorite dishes there). Still can clear out the sinuses though.

                          1. re: Steve R

                            The bottle I saw said "wasabi oil," so SteveR and all who guessed "mustard oil" are the winners.

                            See discussion of this product here:

                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/763984

                            1. re: erica

                              As you are fully aware, I am not a cook and am grossly ignorant of these nuances. However, I wouldnt declare a winner on this just yet, since Wikipedia states: "Wasabi (ワサビ(山葵)?, originally 和佐比; Wasabia japonica, Cochlearia wasabi, or Eutrema japonica), also known as Japanese horseradish[1] is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, horseradish, and mustard. Its root is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is more akin to that of a hot mustard rather than the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapours that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue". Sounds like a tie.

                              1. re: Steve R

                                This isn't hockey or soccer Steve--- declare a winner! I remember seeing the bottle too, but couldn't remember what it said. I'm worthwhile.

                                1. re: ChiefHDB

                                  I'm coming down on your side. I have always heard that wasabi was a type of horseradish. so even if they are related, I would call wasabi oil horseradish oil, not mustard oil.
                                  Doubt it's the same as the indian mustard oil that gets used at neerob.

                                  1. re: missmasala

                                    Either way, now that there are 10 posts explaining and debating my poor decision, I know what I'm ordering next time. That sounds like the perfect counterpoint to the fatty lamb.

                                    1. re: el jefe

                                      Just make sure the bottle says wasabi oil. If it's mustard oil, it more properly goes with the "not so fatty" lamb. If it's just plain horseradish oil, very lean lamb is called for. Remember, this is chowhound & details like this are what makes us, well.... us.

                                2. re: Steve R

                                  YIkes you are right! I mean, you are sort of WRONG with the mustard guess. Wasabi is what they grate fresh at places like Masa, right? (Never been, just read about it)

                                  http://www.amazon.com/GourmetSleuth-M...

                                  Please prepare to surrender your prize, or least half of the total sum. And I consider myself a cook! I hope I am not condemned to drinking a jigger straight from that bottle.

                                  Signed, one of us

                                  1. re: erica

                                    Wasabi, horseradish and brassica leafy greens all get their "heat" from isothiocyanates instead of the capsaicin found in hot peppers. This is like arguing over whether someone used hot pepper oil made from habaneros or ghost peppers, it's all the same stuff...