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Fuloon issues?

DoubleMan Sep 4, 2012 01:39 PM

I read on another food site (seriouseats) that Fuloon has gone seriously downhill in recent months. I have not been in over a year. Has anyone been very recently? Any noticeable changes in quality? Is the chef still there?

The changes to their website are not encouraging.


  1. croutonweb Sep 9, 2013 08:24 AM

    We were there two weeks ago and had a great meal:
    Szechuan Dumplings (standard)
    Bang Bang Chicken (simple, understated app)
    Sour Spicy Cabbage (excellent)
    Szechuan Steamed Beef (not quite as spicy as the fish version I had a few months earlier, but delicious)
    Ma Po Tofu (best ma po tofu I've had)

    16 Replies
    1. re: croutonweb
      KWagle Sep 10, 2013 01:21 AM

      Is this the steamed beef served wrapped in lotus leaves with seasoned rice powder, or some other kind of steamed beef?

      1. re: KWagle
        croutonweb Sep 10, 2013 09:49 AM

        No, it's on the menu as Steamed Beef Szechuan Style. Here's a good description of it:

        1. re: croutonweb
          KWagle Sep 10, 2013 06:33 PM

          Ah, that looks like a variation on "water cooked beef". Thanks for posting that. I was hoping for another place to get the amazing actually steamed in a steamer beef that Shanghai Gate does so well.

          1. re: KWagle
            Karl S Sep 11, 2013 06:16 AM

            My understanding of FuLoon's naming of the dish is because the beef is cooked in oil that is seething when it is brought to the table: the water steams out of the beef because it is cooked at much higher temperatures than boiling water.

            1. re: Karl S
              croutonweb Sep 11, 2013 07:44 AM

              I'm not sure what makes up the liquid in the bowl, but there's a lot of it. I know that the top part is a chili oil and that's where the dried chilies and Szechuan peppercorns float like in a cranberry bog. I'm almost certain that the bottom part is water, and since the viscosity of the total liquid is thin, I'd guess that water makes up at least 90% of the liquid, which would be more than what would come from the beef. Also, any water loss from cooking a protein in oil would probably get vaporized unless the oil is below 212 degrees F.

              If it was served in a glass bowl the mystery would be gone.

            2. re: KWagle
              croutonweb Sep 11, 2013 07:46 AM

              I read somewhere (I think on this board) that this dish is sometimes referred to as "water cooked beef" at some restaurants.

              1. re: croutonweb
                jgg13 Sep 11, 2013 09:19 AM

                Yes, and another name it tends to hide out as on local English menus is spicy beef (or chicken, pork, etc) with napa cabbage or some similar name

            3. re: croutonweb
              opinionatedchef Sep 10, 2013 09:59 PM

              cweb, wow, i had never seen that seriouseats article on best dishes at Fuloon. Thx so much for that!

              1. re: opinionatedchef
                drbangha Sep 11, 2013 07:03 AM

                Yeah geez that is a great slideshow- one I think I would definitely add to the mix is the pork with dried bean curd. As my three year old says, "it tastes of candy!"

                1. re: drbangha
                  Jenny Ondioline Sep 11, 2013 09:39 AM

                  It also overlooks the simple but perfect cold tofu appetizer. which might be my favorite thing on the entire menu.

                2. re: opinionatedchef
                  croutonweb Sep 11, 2013 07:56 AM

                  My pleasure. By the way, the Ma Po Tofu is on the menu (the article says it wasn't when it was written), and they'll ask of you want it with meat. The correct answer here is yes.

                  1. re: croutonweb
                    davis_sq_pro Sep 12, 2013 10:02 AM

                    Wrong. The correct answer is "hell yes!" :-)

                    The same question will be asked if you order the Kan Shue String Beans (one of my favorite dishes there), and in that case I think the correct answer is no. For me, at least, the pork takes too much power away from the pickled veg, thereby ruining that dish.

                    All of which is good news: order 'em both. They complement each other wonderfully.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro
                      antimony Sep 12, 2013 12:29 PM

                      Aw, man, that list reminded me that the home-style eggplant seems to have evaporated from the menu. So good. :(

              2. re: KWagle
                Aromatherapy Sep 11, 2013 06:14 AM

                I realize my timing is bad but Zoe's does a "glutinous rice" beef/pork that I recollect (from many years ago) as being steamed. It was good. No lotus leaves though.

                1. re: Aromatherapy
                  KWagle Sep 11, 2013 04:59 PM

                  Auugh, your timing is awful! I love sticky rice. :-(

              3. re: croutonweb
                drbangha Sep 10, 2013 10:48 AM

                We have gotten takeout twice in the last two weeks and have thought everything was delicious like usual.

              4. s
                surferbettygal Sep 6, 2013 08:15 PM

                I've gone once to see what the hype was about and wasn't impressed at all. I work in Boston and eat in Chinatown so I know a thing or two about what good Chinese food tastes like. I thought the dishes were underwhelming.

                3 Replies
                1. re: surferbettygal
                  lc02139 Sep 7, 2013 05:18 AM

                  Hey Surferbettygal,

                  Do you remember which dishes you tried and when it was??

                  Where do you eat in Chinatown and what dishes do you enjoy?

                  I think this post was saying its gone down hill in the last few months, are you saying that you weren't impressed before this time period??


                  1. re: surferbettygal
                    Bob Dobalina Sep 7, 2013 10:34 AM

                    That totally deserves a Michaela face.

                    1. re: surferbettygal
                      hotoynoodle Sep 11, 2013 06:40 AM

                      "I work in Boston and eat in Chinatown so I know a thing or two about what good Chinese food tastes like."


                      lol. what on earth does that mean? that's like saying "i am french so i am a wine expert."

                      there's a mcdonald's in chinatown too. :)

                    2. fesenjan Sep 2, 2013 01:08 PM

                      Bumping this thread to say that my husband and I ate there last night and were disappointed. We hadn't been in over a year. I know Sunday's not the best time to judge, but the food was overall far less striking than it has been on previous visits -- and came out so fast that we didn't think it could possibly have all been freshly prepared.

                      We had our old standby Mandarin Cabbage with Spicy and Sour (overbalanced to the sour this time, not at all vibrant or fresh tasting), tried Steamed Beef, Szechuan Style (the most successful of the lot, nice numbing effect) and also ordered Starch noodles with Pork (boring thick sauce, heavy noodles). It was not a terrible meal, but compared to previous outings there a low point for us.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: fesenjan
                        opinionatedchef Sep 2, 2013 04:19 PM

                        We had that experience maybe 3 months ago but we were there last month on a sunday and quality was consistent for what we had: wok baked beef,mandarin sour cabbage, gen gao chicken, can't remember more. Sorry for the glitch but Keep the Faith!

                        1. re: fesenjan
                          lergnom Sep 2, 2013 08:07 PM

                          My take is this: the chef doesn't work every night and the other chef(s) make food that looks the same but doesn't taste anywhere near as good. The food was very consistent for a while but then we had this experience. It's obviously a different hand, one that can make the food generally but can't make the sauces. Problem is I can't tell in advance if the right person is there. I think from the menu and talking to the people that he is a/the owner.

                          1. re: lergnom
                            opinionatedchef Sep 2, 2013 10:41 PM

                            IIRC, i think that the restnt is co owned by the delightful woman (who is ALWAYS there!) and her husb, and the chef.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              lergnom Sep 3, 2013 07:42 AM

                              That's my understanding as well. Maybe he's taking more days off. Maybe he's had some health issues. Beats me.

                              1. re: lergnom
                                opinionatedchef Sep 3, 2013 03:06 PM

                                yep, let's send them positive thoughts.

                        2. c
                          chiba Jan 10, 2013 04:51 PM

                          I've enjoyed several great meals there over the years usually overlooking the generally run-down and not-so-clean setting... But on my last visit in December it just seemed not only more run-down and dirtier, but the food lacked it's usual oomph.

                          Let's hope that in 2013, they can clean the place up and get back on track...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: chiba
                            drbangha Jan 11, 2013 09:15 AM

                            I have never been to Fuloon when it was anything approaching run-down or not-so-clean. I had one less than stellar take out experience over the summer but 1 out of probably 50 meals is not bad.

                          2. k
                            kenjigoodeater Jan 5, 2013 10:34 AM

                            I'm the editor of Serious Eats and don't remember reading or editing that. Can you tell me where you read it? Was it just a community generated comment thread perhaps?

                            We're here for lunch right now. Things look same as always, including staff, chef, menu. Haven't eaten yet, but will report back!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: kenjigoodeater
                              DoubleMan Jan 5, 2013 01:28 PM

                              Comments here.


                              1. re: DoubleMan
                                kenjigoodeater Jan 5, 2013 01:47 PM

                                Ah, in the comments.

                                Well I can't attest to everyone, but the meal we just had there was as good as its ever been. I've yet to have a bad meal there!

                            2. t
                              T.B. Sep 24, 2012 07:35 AM

                              Hadn't been since spring (it's not hot-weather food for me), but last night's meal seemed just fine. If it wasn't as vibrant as sometimes can be attributed to the power of suggestion making us hyper-critical, our dining companions not being adventurous, and us closing down the place on a Sunday night. Still tasty, certainly not "seriously downhill."

                              I'll be checking in more often now that it's fall. I got worried since they're my go-to place for Thanksgiving dinner.

                              1. s
                                saria Sep 13, 2012 04:59 AM

                                I was there pretty recently (a month ago) and I thought it was great. I will say that I thought it was almost too much Sichuan peppercorn in the mapo to the point that it tasted a little soapy, but everything was well-prepared. Crispy pork pancake, great garlic eggplant (I could have eaten another portion of that). I went based on recommendations here since I'm new to Boston, so I don't have past comparison, but it's been one of my Chinese food favorites.

                                1. galangatron Sep 5, 2012 11:37 AM

                                  haven't eaten there in a few months but didn't notice any discernible change in the quality of the food

                                  1. Karl S Sep 5, 2012 03:33 AM

                                    It was fine in late May when I was last there. I've been dieting this summer, so that means no Asian food for me.

                                    1. l
                                      lergnom Sep 4, 2012 05:16 PM

                                      I also would love to hear from some recent diners. I had a terrible meal there last time. I wrote it off to it being a holiday and the chef probably not working. The food looked the same but tasted bad with every sauce being essentially the same brownish thing.

                                      1. davis_sq_pro Sep 4, 2012 02:37 PM

                                        I am not nearly as regular a customer there as I'd like (trying to watch the waistline and dishes like Jiang Pao Duck do not help), but on a recent visit my wife and I both felt like something was a bit off. The food seemed oilier and less vibrant than usual. The Kan Shue String Beans, which we've enjoyed numerous times and which we usually have no problem finishing, were woefully under-seasoned -- which is quite odd given that that dish is generally quite salty. And an order of dumplings tasted somewhat flat and maybe even old.

                                        I figured it was just an off night, but your post definitely has me a bit concerned. Losing Fuloon would be a major blow to the availability of quality Chinese cuisine in the northern burbs.

                                        1. opinionatedchef Sep 4, 2012 02:06 PM

                                          man, you got me worried. so I called just now. diane is still the owner; she says chef and everything is 'still the same'. but we haven't been there for 2 months maybe. was all 'like always' when we were there. Gross new website though. She told me a few yrs ago that they have a big regular client base of Northeastern students. Maybe the chef takes a vacation when the students go away for the summer...? ( I really hope something like that happened- as a possible explanation why SE was not happy w/ it.)

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