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Fuloon As Good As Ever 12/4/2012

I know a while ago, a few CHs were wondering if fuloon was slipping.
We introduced some friends to it the other night and had a terrific dinner. Diane and ger husband still own it; the original chef is still there.
Favs:
Wok Baked Beef w/ Watercress
Spicy Sour Cabbage
Orange Chicken
Moo shi Pork

Good :
Green Noodles w/ Pork- another of the unique dishes here w/ a tangy vinegar component

Disappointing(still)/ won't order again:
Pork Lo Mein- Fuloon's version has often been really distinctly more flavorful/saucy than others,
but the last few visits, it has been mundane. They were out of our other fav noodle dish- Szechuan Chow Foon.

Peking Duck- Duck was once stellar here, but no more. This time is the last time I will be disappointed by it's lean overcooked and skimpy meat. Wherever they get their ducks, it seems that vendor is raising them on a starvation diet.

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  1. I was there for lunch recently and ordered my favorite lunch, Peking Meat Sauce Noodle, just as satisfying as ever.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      chris, plse describe! i've never had it. beef, pork, minced, ground,; wheat , egg or rice noodles; plum sauce component or vinegary or other? heat level? thx much and plse share any other favs there. we have struck out on many other dishes but would love to expand our list.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        It's a very simply and homey dish. It looks like whatever noodles they use in the lo mein, topped with ground beef in a salty sauce (I always figured it was black bean), topped with scallions and bean sprouts. It's not at all spicy, but they also have Szechuan Meat Sauce Noodle which I *think* I have gotten before and is nice and spicy.

        1. re: Chris VR

          That dish is called zha2 jiang4 mian4, and the salty sauce is a fermented soybean paste. I would be very surprised if it's made with beef, rather than with pork, though. I've never ordered it, but assume it's pork, since zha jiang mian is basically always made with pork.

          If you like the cu4 liu1 bai2 cai4, which I think is on their menu as Mandarin Cabbage with Spicy & Sour, try the duo4 jiao1 bai2 cai4, or Mandarin Cabbage with Chili Pepper.

          I have never tried orange chicken, moo shi pork or lo mien there, but maybe they do those Americanized dishes well. Their signature duck dish, the jiang4 bao4 ya1 pian4 or Jiang Pao Duck is quite fatty and just as good as ever. I haven't had Peking Duck there in literally five years.

          1. re: lipoff

            sam, we didn't care for that cabbage version but i am addicted to the spicy sour(i'm a real acid fan- citrus, vinegar, wine...). I've often been tempted by that duck dish; does it have plum or hoisin sauce? (i really dislike both) Also, would you plse tell me what those numbers mean?thx.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              The Jiangpao Duck comes with garlic, scallions, cucumbers and hoisin sauce, all served on the side, along with pancakes. The duck itself is sliced into pieces, and has been cooked in a thick soy-based sauce that becomes a sort of reduction on the duck itself. So it served with the traditional accompaniments of Peking duck, but it's not a whole duck, the skin isn't crispy, and the duck itself is coated and infused with a sauce. If you don't like hoisin sauce, don't worry, you aren't required to use it! =) The sauce the duck is cooked in isn't particularly sweet, but it is a thick sauce. It's one of my favorite duck preparations.

              When you transliterate Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet, the letters can only represent the sound of the characters, not the tone. In Mandarin Chinese, each character can have one of four tones, or in some cases, no tone at all. So for example if you read duo4 jiao1 bai2 cai4 you'd know it's chopped pepper cabbage, rather than duo1 jiao1 bai2 cai4 which could be many pepper cabbage. It's a little bit like putting the accent marks on in French or Spanish.

              1. re: lipoff

                thx much for that very clear explanation!

            2. re: lipoff

              It has a dryness and lack of individual flavor I associate with ground beef so I always assumed it was beef and not pork but I am sure you are right.

          2. re: opinionatedchef

            Have you tried many of the Sichuan dishes? Most of the things on your list don't seem to be particularly Sichuan. We usually order Sichuan classics like ma po tofu, water cooked beef, bang bang chicken, Chongqing dry-hot chicken, cold jellyfish, and pork/bacon with leeks.

            1. re: emannths

              I was thinking the same thing. Other than the wok beef and the cabbage, i cant imagine ordering any of those items at Fuloon or anywhere for that matter.

              1. re: emannths

                hi em, yes we tried alot of those at the chowdown we attended that introduced us to F. But i don't think i've had the bacon/leeks and that sounds luscious. could you describe the water cooked beef and that dry hot chicken?thx!

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  The bacon w/leeks dish, which I think is usually translated as something like "double-cooked pork" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twice_co...), is sliced pork belly with garlic, black beans, and leeks. You have to be accepting of unrendered pork belly fat though. The water-cooked beef (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuizhu, I think Fuloon calls it "Sichuan steamed beef"), is slices of beef, cabbage, and celery in a rich, meaty Chinese broth with lots of chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns. The portion at Fuloon is huge. I think there's a thread on CH about the fish version of this dish. Chongqing dry hot chicken (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_...) is chunks of deep-fried chicken tossed with garlic, ginger, scallions, Sichuan peppercorns, and comical quantities of chilies. It's a bit like Sichuan-style popcorn chicken, I suppose.

                  1. re: emannths

                    I moved away from Boston a few years ago, and the steamed beef szechuan style at Fu Loon is one of the things I miss most in the world. Right up there with Speed dogs. And it's not even as crazy hot as it looks!

                    1. re: tamerlanenj

                      What kind of beef? Is this the dish with seasoned rice powder? I get that at Shanghai Gate and love it.

          3. Sichuan flavored chow fun does sound like something I'd enjoy. I've always wondered why there isn't more such fusion cuisine on Chinese menus. (One good example can be found in the DC area: fried "good dale" which is basically Singapore-style chow fun, and extremely delicious.)

            1. The Spicy Sour Cabbage is a great find. We had this at our first trip to Fuloon this week.

              2 Replies
              1. re: croutonweb

                yes, isn't that so refreshingly bright flavored? love it. :-}

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  It was a hit with my wife, as well. She's a kimchi hater and was fearful of the similarity, but there really isn't any. It's not fermented, it's served hot, and it's not limp.

                  We went to Venice last year and I had a local specialty (many, really) called Sarde in Saor. It's a plate of fried sardines smothered in onions in a vinegar-based sauce with raisins and pine nuts. Eating the cabbage at Fuloon immediately triggered that hot, thickened agrodolce memory.

              2. Had a terrific experience there tonight:
                Kung Pao Tofu (almost as ethereal as the Medford place last week.)
                Spicy Sour Cabbage (ha; this and the Hot and Sour soup both needed vinegar tonight, but once i added it, all was perfect.)
                Curry Rice Noodles (angelhair-like, wok tossed w/ curry powder, baby shrimp etc.)
                General Gao's Chicken

                13 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  What was the General G like? Americanized w 3 pieces of broccoli? I would think a proper Szechuan treatment of this dish could be great.

                  Sounds like the curry noodles were like Singapore rice noodles at Qingdao ? Wang's?

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    bob, sorry but i guess i don't quite know what you're asking. it has no szechuan treatment imo. abundant chicken w/ terrific very crispy exterior (due to water chestnut flour i believe) and a good number of brocc and snow peas (wok charred) that we specifically requested, and a sweetish sauce that is not cloyingly sweet.

                    have never had curry noodles elsewhere so can't compare.

                    Has anyone had Spicy Sour Cabbage anywhere other than Fuloon? As good as Fuloon? thx.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Never seen the cabbage dish anywhere on the east coast other than Fuloon. If it exists, it's off menu. I remember the first time my daughter had it there: she said it tasted exactly like Xian, where she lived for a while.

                      If other restaurants made General Gau's this way, it would deserve its popularity.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        Thanks - your feedback was exactly what I wanted to know.

                      2. re: Bob Dobalina

                        p.s. iirc, i think "Americanized Genl Gau" = "Genl Gau" bec it was invented here. some article i read recently.....

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina

                          General Gau's (Tso's, etc.) chicken is (theoretically) Hunanese, not Szechuan at all. The dish was actually invented in Taiwan in the 1950s, by chef Peng Chang-Kuei. Peng was born in Hunan and came to work as chef for the Nationalist government during WWII and after the Nationalists fled to Taiwan.

                          Peng later opened a Hunanese restaurant in NYC, in the 1970s, and adapted his original recipe to American tastes, including sweetening it.
                          http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/mag...

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            Well, if that isn't the darndest. I love the Times piece and how she refers to the dish as part of " the invention of new mythologies in the cultural melting pots of the modern world. " Ha! thx much for posting that.

                          2. re: Bob Dobalina

                            I'm fairly sure that Fuloon has 2 versions of General Gau's: the standard "Americanized" one, which is what they serve on the lunch buffet (best avoided), and one they have as a special (it usually seems to coincide with Christmas) which they've described to me as a Chinese style, or something like that. The sauce is lighter, not as sweet, and a bit more spicy (IIRC, it's been a while since I've had it.) It's worth trying if they have it.

                            1. re: Chris VR

                              chris. that's so cool! thx for telling us that. I bet Diane would do that if and when you asked for it. we'll order that next time/soon!
                              p.s. do they do a good eggplant dish? i've been craving eggplant lately.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I really enjoyed the eggplant garlic dish they have. I don't remember the name but it was VERY garlicky and delicious.

                                ETA: I believe it was this dish:
                                http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/02/fu...

                                1. re: wandergirl

                                  hmmmm, thx for that Serious Eats link. i had 'seen' it a number of times before, but tonight i had a chance to study it and write down some dishes to try. For you CHs of the asbestos mouth persuasion (which we are not), are there any dishes of the 12 that could be considered medium spicy (other than the spicy sour cabbage which has never been hot spicy when we had it)? thx

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    The cucumbers, string beans, and starch noodles with pork are not at all spicy. I think the bang-bang chicken is pretty mild. I'm also fond of the chicken with Chinese dates and chestnuts, not spicy at all.

                                    1. re: Aromatherapy

                                      great! th you. will follow suit.

                        2. We stopped in recently, too. Had a great meal.

                          1. But it's so grimy and tired there… definitely detracts from the food...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chiba

                              I would happily be served Fuloon's cold tofu, dong po pork and bang bang chicken in a bus station bathroom, so I'm not sure what exactly the problem is. There are plenty of luxuriously-appointed restaurants serving mediocre at best food for those who would rather be in a pretty room than eat good food.

                            2. Went today and had wonderful food . My fav dish was as brilliant as ever:
                              Spicy and Sour Cabbage- man, i just seem to have some serious jones for vinegar. I just go nuts for this crunchy yet silky cabbage with the vinegar tang.

                              Noodles with Spicy Szechuan Sesame Sauce was our new discovery, and it was sublime. Soft toothsome vermicelli noodles with smoky szechuan peppercorn and bits of meat and brown beans; no veggies.( Huge platter of it! )

                              Watercress with garlic is another huge amount, crunchy and refreshing. And i finally figured out how to eat it- twirl it around your fork like pasta!

                              I would not rec the Hot 'n Sour soup. It improved when i added some (black) vinegar to it, but it just didn't work for me. Likewise, the Home Style fried tofu was not what i had last time; it had a sauce, with green pepper, cabbage, scallions. The tofu was creamy wonderful but i didn't want a sauce. I'll have to seek Diane's help next time instead of the waiter's.

                              Gen Tso's Chicken was, unfortunately, for the first time, covered w/ gloppy sauce (again, i think the waiter misunderstood me when i asked for almost no sauce.)But neither of us was particularly bothered by the misses, because the winners were so stellar!

                              Summer is a slow time for them, Diane says, because the students go home, so let's keep Fuloon in mind when we want some terrific food with easy parking!

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                My wife and I were there last week and we got a similar dish to the noodles you mentioned except that they were steamed pork dumplings in what sounds like the same sauce. They are very good and a little difficult to eat with chopsticks since they're slippery with chili oil.

                                We got Hot Diced Chicken Szechuan Style which was the spiciest dish we've had there (it won't make you cry though). I've had it elsewhere as Dry Fried Chicken or Chongqing Chicken.

                                We also got a cold cucumber appetizer. It was quite good but it had jellyfish in it which didn't seem to be indicated on the menu. This wasn't a problem for us, but the idea of jellyfish can be off-putting to some people. I view it as a toothsome marine noodle that accepts sauce.

                                1. re: croutonweb

                                  cw, you're not talking about the light greenish translucent noodles, are you?

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    They were translucent, but not greenish. Some of them had a brown color on just the surface of one side. When we asked our server said they were jellyfish.

                                    1. re: croutonweb

                                      cw, i don't know where the chinese experts are (maybe on vacation) but they know all this stuff and tons more-- i'm pretty sure that isn't really jellyfish, but some bean starch noodle. just fyi, Diane, the owner, is always there and she's much better at explaining dishes. Our visit the other day I should have asked her over because there were 2 mistakes that could have been avoided i think...

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                        That's what I thought at first, too, before I ate it. But I've had a good variety of starch noodles before, and they haven't had the same texture as this.
                                        It's entirely possible that what we ordered and what we got were two different dishes since there is also a jellyfish dish in the cold appetizer section of the menu.

                                        1. re: croutonweb

                                          Was the texture slightly crunchy?

                                          1. re: Allstonian

                                            I wouldn't say it was crunchy. It was more like a thick fettuccine cooked al dente.

                                  2. re: croutonweb

                                    sometimes it's just easier to pick up the phone, so i called diane just now. And now I'M confused! They have a cold cukes app which is just cuke;
                                    then they have a Jellyfish with a LITTLE bit of cuke. And the jellyfish is REAL from the ocean jellyfish and it tastes pretty neutral. And that's all i know!

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                                      Sounds like we got a hybrid of the two.

                                  3. re: opinionatedchef

                                    I love that cabbage dish too. We make a cheap facsimile at home by sauteing shredded cabbage and finishing it with soy sauce, salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil. You can add a little starch to thicken if necessary. Other additions can include slices of ginger, crushed cloves of garlic, or whole chiles, added at the beginning with the cabbage. Your pan needs to be *screaming* hot (one place where cheap electric stoves actually come in handy!), but if it is, you'll get great charring/wok hei.

                                    1. re: emannths

                                      thx for the recipe. i was thinking about it today as i finished it off, and i was thinking:
                                      bok choy,garlic, ginger. dried red chiles, chicken stock, black vinegar, cornstarch, maybe touch of soy. the sauce is that straw color so i don't think soy sauce plays much of a role. as to sesame oil, i am such a fan of it and it is such a distinct flavor, but i can't really decide if it's in the dish or not. weird. you think so though?

                                      btw em, it is a completely different take on cabbage and vinegar, but you might also love the 'cole slaw' that accompanies the BonChon chicken at La Brasa. Absolutely the best slaw i have ever had, and i'll be darned if i can figure it out. But then I only had a pint of it for lunch today :-} I think I need a bigger sample....

                                      1. re: emannths

                                        If you have star anise, that also adds a nice touch.