Bites with Kimberly: You Fuqi (Fortune) Restaurant
Hot Pot of Pork Bones, trademark food of You Fuqi (Fortune) Restuarant in Guangzhou. [More photos]
We climb up three flights of beige marble stairs and enter into a mahogany hallway. The walls have inset shelves with simple decorations lighted by overhead lights. Our host leads us into a large private room.
The private room is simple, clean, pleasing and overall minimal in comparison to all that is Guangzhou. To the side is a sitting area with brown leather couches. Yellow –gold sheers decorate the windows but the main attraction is the table. A large table with enough room to seat fifteen people sits in the very center of the room. It's covered in a royal purple tablecloth and the middle is cut out for hot pot. I hear the ladies speaking; some in Cantonese and some in Mandarin. Someone says quiet loudly "dabian hou" which is Cantonese for hot pot. My silliness mistook that for Mandarin and thought for a fearful moment that we would be eating poop. After clarification I roll my eyes and sigh at my burgeoning career as a Chinese interpreter. I smile and sit.
Simple Chinese tea is served and a waitress brings a wok full of goose bits. She fries it up in front of me and drops a choice piece into my bowl. It's delicious, warm and chewy. The goose is zingy and simple at the same time with it's main flavor being ginger. I smile as my taste buds perk at the thought of a not so bad hot pot.
Kimberly feasts on a piece of pork bones. [More photos]
Then comes a hot pot already full of food! My joy at beholding that sight. The waitress places it in the center of the table and slowly it begins to boil. The hot pot holds large pork bones covered in meat bubbling in a savory smelling soup. Plastic gloves, which I had thought were only used for hair dye, were passed around the table as well as straws. "Plop," goes my pork bone as it's dropped into my bowl. I'm instructed to take my straw and stick it in the middle of the bone to suck out the marrow. Aaagh! My mind screams but I comply with a smile and give a good suck. Not exactly a thrilling food experience for me but I must say it had good flavor. I'm just not used to the consistency of marrow I suppose. I eat the pork meat on my caveman like bone and am beyond happy. The meat is just a bit salty, the way all pork should be, tender enough to fall to pieces in my mouth, and the fat doctors warn against is delicious!
The waitress starts bringing out dishes. Xiguan salty pancake is served which excites me unbelievably. All I can think while I eat it is how similar it is to a Dunkin Donuts sourdough donut! Xiguan salty pancake is only slightly sweet and my notes actually say, "to die for!" Next is sweet potatoes with cheese. Now these are great! The potatoes come mashed with a slight layer of cheese on top. They're like cotton candy (sugar floss) in the sense that they're so smooth and delicious they're gone before you even have a chance to love them with your mouth. Fish and bean curd make a short appearance in my bowl. These are boiled in the hot pot by our lovely waitress and dropped in my bowl like pretty little dumplings. Though they have a decent enough flavor the consistency is neither chewable nor swallowable but rather a strange mixture of both. I find this dish to leave my mouth thoroughly unsatisfied.
Something really fascinating follows which did perk my saddened tongue- fish meat puree. It comes out in a plastic baggie much like cake icing and is squirted into the hot pot. It cooks into something that can only be described as alien guts. Visually off putting I figured if I can eat dog, cow intestine, chicken feet and pig ears I can at least give this a try. It's amazing! Nice fish flavor with some bits of black pepper from the broth. It is yum though it takes a strong mind to swallow the first bite.
Green tea baozi. [More photos]
Dessert finally! Dessert is my personal favorite of all meals. Baozi? Yes indeedy, baozi! Green tea baozi to be exact, strange and pretty at the same time. They're boiled in the hot pot broth by the waitress and then placed gently in my bowl. I pick it up with my kuaizi (chopsticks) and inspect it by giving it a sneaky sniff. I take a nibble and my tongue melts with delight. The inside is filled with a sweet taro pudding and the outside provides a wonderful clean green tea flavor that off sets the inside perfectly! It's delicious. This restaurant has proved itself a hidden treasure. I'll be back for seconds and maybe even thirds.
Address: At the crossroads of Tianhe Nan Er Lu and Tianhe Dong Lu, Guangzhou
(By Kimberly Barteau)