china (liaoning province)
Fu Run might look like any other Chinese restaurant on the surrounding blocks, but they are a significant step up in terms of food quality. You will find some very interesting dishes here that are not on the usual radar. The cuisine here is from Liaoning province, in the northeast of China bordering North Korea.
The restaurant is not exactly easy for English speakers, but you can get across what you want, and the menu is sufficient. Just don't expect to order from the specials or signs on the walls. They are very friendly though, and you will feel welcome, something that can be missing from southern Chinese restaurants at times. After the complimentary bowl of peanuts, you will be ready for an onslaught on the taste buds.
Our first dish was a cold appetizer country style green bean sheet jelly ($8.95, above). The sheet jelly is covered with a mixture of vegetables and mixed together with an included sesame oil and an added mustard oil. After adding this, mix everything together and start serving. The oils mix together well to form the bulk of the taste, but the cool vegetables and jelly make a good base.
The most memorable dish so far in 2011 has to be the Muslim lamb chop ($21.95, above and below). The succulent lamb is also very fatty, crispy from cooking, and topped with sesame and cumin, making a powerful impression. It is the type of dish you go out of your way for. There are so many leftover seeds that you start searching for ways to recycle and get it all in your mouth. Our wonderful server came to clear the dish at one point and some of us almost got out of our seat to stop her from taking the last tasty morsels.
Close up of all the lamby fatty cumin-y goodness
It would be hard for any dish to follow that, so I wonder if it is possible to request it to come last. Unfortunately for the braised pork elbow ($12.95, below), it had to come after. This dish is also a benefactor of all the fat left on the meat, which is the better of two halves. The sauce is nothing special here, but the pieces of meat are good enough to hold their own.
It should be fun to try the seafoods on the next visit, especially the homestyle whole fish dishes that were being ordered by the large groups surrounding us. Until then...