Duck Kidney from Fu Zhou Restaurant (84 Eldridge Street, 212-343-3905)
Fu Zhou is a restaurant that has two different menus: One of them is for tourists, with boring plates such as chicken and broccoli. The other one, with delicacies such as snail, is apparently for Chinese people. The staff will not want to give you the latter unless you beg and plea and point, which is what we did tonight.
“We want that,” we told the waitress, sticking our finger out, toward a steaming seafood dish.
She shook her head and nodded toward the General Tso’s on our menu. Then we shook our heads. She pointed back at the menu. More head shaking. This went on for a few minutes. She started talking with the rest of the waitstaff, and a man eating with his family explained kindly: “That’s Chinese food. You don’t want that.”
“Yes! Yes we do!” we said.
The waitress shrugged, walked away, and brought back a more extensive menu, with items we had never head of (which, unfortunately, were sold out.)
One of the plates my dining buddies and I picked was the duck kidney.
Organs can be hit or miss, but the chili-flecked, sweet soy gravy amplified the metallic flavor of the flesh, giving a marvelously nutritive vibe. Meanwhile, the veggies kept the plate from feeling too meaty. This pick struck a rare balance between being intense and fun.
The clams with black bean sauce, also sampled by this fearless feasting posse, come in a garlicky bath of lightly fermented legume paste. The mollusks take on a robust broth, as the main comes cooked with onion and pepper. Now, this next thought is neither here nor there, but generally speaking, what would have gone really well with this would have been a side of shrimp toast, to sop of all the soup.
Yes, we know that dim sum dish is Guangdong and not to be found at a Fujian place. Still, the flavors would just click.