Wen, from the Writing Is My Therapy blog, went back to her roots as a Fujianese girl and checked out Rong Xin at 88 East Broadway in (New York’s) Chinatown.
Although Rong Xin is not actually a street vendor, they cook Fujianese street food, and Wen’s descriptions are very evocative.
According to Wen, the Fujian style of cooking is focused on braising, sauteeing and poaching, but it’s not overly seasoned like some styles of Chinese cooking. Fujianese food is usually light but flavorful, and the key is to present the delicate flavors of the ingredients. Due to the proximity to the coast, there is access to the best and freshest seafood.
Let Wen tell you about her and her sister’s visit to Rong Xin.
“My sister and I went to Rong Xin because she was craving for some traditional Fujianese street foods and we headed to East Broadway, aka. Fujianese street. Rong Xin is in the basement and you would hardly notice it if you weren’t looking. the place has no decor but it has a homey appeal to it.
-fried dough (the long piece), taro cake (triangular, on the bottom) and oyster pancake (round, to the slight right): the fried dough was soft and tender, pretty good. taro cake is good, but it would be even better if there were more taro in it. oyster pancake was a little doughy that i liked. i’m a purist when it comes to oyster pancakes (no oysters and only scallions), i don’t like it when they put lots of filling in it (in this case, veggies and pork). nothing wrong with the fillings, it’s just not my thing. when i was little, my mom used to buy the plain kind to go with our congee, perhaps that’s the reason why it remains my favorite.
-meat dumpling is a traditional Fujianese food made with ground pork and wrapped in a special wrapper. the wrapper is made of pork and flour. it has a crunchy texture when cooked. the meat dumplings are steamed, then can be made into a soup by boiling it in water, seasoned with salt, pepper, vinegar and garnished with scallions. my mom make these around Lunar New Year and i love these so much that i can eat them everyday. when i went back to the dorms, my mom even packed some for the road. any way, Rong Xin’s version is good and the portion was HUGE (there were at least a dozen of these dumplings) for the price, $3.50! however, i think my mom makes the best meat dumplings. gosh i miss her cooking!”
“-i don’t quite know how to describe this one (above). it’s basically a soup with fresh veggies, meats and seafood cooked in a wok, then a rice batter is poured down the side of the wok, once the batter turns into a crepe-like texture, it’s then scraped into the wok to cook with the rest of the soup. at my house, my mom make these and serve it with freshly-fried peanuts as a topping. my sister has been craving for these for awhile, she ordered it and paid extra to add clams (a classic ingredient) to them. the portion is big and filling and they added about ten clams per bowl (what a steal for a bowl that costs only four bucks!). my sister liked it a good deal that she ordered a second bowl. for a girl who couldn’t finish a bowl of rice, she sure liked the soup (though i did share the second bowl with her)…
the food was not fancy or frilly, the whole check came to less than 14 bucks but we left Rong Xin really satisfied. it was my sister’s lunar birthday but all she wanted was rice soup. it didn’t matter to her that it wasn’t a big, fancy dinner because she got her wish. my sister puts it the best, “it’s not about the cost of food, it’s about the nostalgic, homey and emotional feeling that you get from eating it.”
Thank you Wen for an interesting and descriptive post about Fujianese street food.