Friday, December 5, 2008

Fuleen's seafood restaurant. Is Chinatown an alternative reality?

One night last week Neil and I were looking for some late night (well 10ish, which would be early in Barcelona) Hot and Sour soup.

One thing lead to another and we ended up walking several blocks to 11 Division street and Fuleen Seafood.

I'm so glad we did.

I've been back once again with my friend Keith when he was visiting from Berlin. We got a whole crab with ginger and scallions, the waiter brought a huge live crab in a bucket to our table for inspection.

Eating crab is labor intensive! It was delicious but it took a long time to actually crack and suck and pry all the meat out of that crab. Luckily, the salt and pepper shell on shrimp were succulent, instant gratification.

Sauteed Chinese greens came with a generous portion of shrimp and Neil's Soy Sauce Noodles were an instant hit. A pile of curly egg noodles tossed with scallions and soy, so good.

The prices are reasonable for the quality and quantity. Beware the large portions! If you want to order a good selection go with a group!

The room is large, bright, run down, tacky, typical Chinese decor.

It's open to 3 a.m and both times I've been I'm the only Caucasian in the place. Gotta love that.

I can't wait to go back.

Is Chinatown an alternative reality?

The reason I ask the question is because I often let down my guard and do thing that I wouldn't normally do, like eat meat, in particular barbecue pork buns. Warm out of the oven filled with chemically red chewy, sweet, tender pork inside a warm white bun; a savory doughnut of delight.

When I first moved to New York in 1986 I lived on Monroe St in Chinatown. I was very poor living on an arts council grant. I could eat three of these buns and call it dinner for $1.50.

Hot and Sour soup is another one.

Fuleen's was awesome, spicy ground pork is an essential part of the broth, it's one damn classy bowl of soup. Regardless, I often have a craving for a bowl of Hot and Sour and will stop in whatever place is closest. Certainly the prices down here can't be beat 1.50 to maybe 2:50 for a 2 cup container, and the big quarts are 3 to 4 buck-ish. You can't beat them, but now I feel obliged to at least ask for them to leave the pork out or if they have a veggie one.

Duck. Duck. Duck. In a take away container sitting on a bed of rice, all crispy, sweet, dark, dripping, wonderfulness. Or in Thai restaurants with red curry and Jasmine rice. Peking style wrapped in a crepe.

Dumplings, soup dumplings still make me very happy. Shrimp shumai, steamed veggie make it a dumpling I'll eat it!

My rational is this, the Chinese eat parts of birds (like chicken feet) and want to see it's eyes, which is why you see them in the windows head dangling. I admire this part of Chinese culinary culture it strikes me as a very honest way to relate to your food. It all leads me to believe these animals are not factory farmed, in CAFO* cages their feet would be clipped as would their beaks.
As for the pig or beef I tend to doubt it so I steer (no pun intended) away except when I don't, like with the pork bun (really it only happens very, very rarely, I swear.)

Lastly, on the alternative reality theme, on the streets of Chinatown, on Grand street blocks from our apartment fruit and vegetable vendors whose life is spent almost entirely in a Mandarin speaking world. They know how to do the needed transactions but that's it.

Come have come seafood and change your reality.

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