There are a lot of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Chinatown that you wouldn’t think twice about. Shu Jiao Fu Zhou, however, is one you should actually step into, despite the misgivings you might have about its dingy signage and furniture. The only one with second thoughts will be you, because inside there will be a ton of people, mostly consisting of Chinese locals and a few in-the-know diners, happily eating their way through a bowl of noodles and dumplings.
As you might have guessed from its name, Shu Jiao Fu Zhou specializes in food from the Fujian province. My husband’s family is from this region, so I’ve tried this style of cuisine during meals with the in-laws. It’s a very clean style of cooking that’s simple and light, with a lot of emphasis on soups and seafood. A typical meal for us would consist of a soup with cabbage and fish balls, steamed fish, egg rolls and stir-fried pea shoots.
This simplicity was apparent in the dishes we ordered at the restaurant. One of Shu Jiao Fu Zhou’s signature dishes is its wheat noodles with peanut butter sauce. I was expecting something drenched in a thick, sweet paste, but on the contrary, it was more of a subtle, soy-based sauce. It was a little too plain for my tastes, but I guess I was in the minority on this one. The steamed pork and chive dumplings were solid, and the ground meat seemed like it was seasoned with something that resembled five spice powder. The fish ball soup I ordered was very much reminiscent of my mother-in-law’s, basic but satisfying.
What’s amazing is that this whole meal probably cost us $10 total. It’s always the best feeling when you stumble into something like this that is unexpectedly tasty and a bargain. People might stick their nose up at the cheap decor, but they’re the ones missing out on this scrappy little gem.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou
118 Eldridge St (between Broome and Grand St)
New York, NY 10002