Besides Manhattan being essentially the sole port of entry for Fujianese migrants, the main mode of transport for Fujianese Americans is an intricate network of Chinese operated bus companies that regularly run between Manhattan and just about any major city east of the Mississippi River. As such Fujianese Americans operate the large majority of Chinese restaurants (a good chunk of which are Chinese buffet restaurants) in the eastern United States. And the further west you go, the fewer Fujianese residents you find, so when you get to California the number of Fujianese is very small, making the demand for Fujianese food likewise quite small.
Fuzhou/Fujian cuisine has been rare in the decade plus that I roamed the SGV. In addition to Fuzhou Cuisine in Arcadia, I only recall one other fairly short-lived place, and it was c. 2010. I believe it was located in the Golden Deli plaza in San Gabriel. The name escapes me. Perhaps, chandavkl can fill in that blank.
EDIT: Dug around and found it. Sweet Aroma Cafe. Also, an even more short-lived place across Las Tunas, next to Luscious Dumplings: Liu Xiang Yuan, from early 2011.
Just tried the Wuhan’s reganmian that’s so famous. At tasty, 301 w valkey blvd we have the big dry hot pots as well but I was one person so not getting it. I would go back to try it. As for the noodles, they were all right. I could see they would be a good breakfast dish. Not too impressed. And realize there’s a reason that Hubei isn’t considered one of the eighth great cuisines
Shanghai restaurant at focus plaza is really good. Had the Manchurian wild rice stems zizania bith ways
Happy to go back
At 301w I was intrigued by two places. One, man Chang seems to have a real Hainan chicken and rice maybe even Hainan style. Other has signs for braised yellow stuff (Huang men) Chicken, etc. Looked it up later. This is the style of cooking which I’m not familiar originally from Shandong provenance but has been adopted by a lot of the country. Never had it. Might go try it.
This is an explanation I guess. My other guess is that people from other parts of the country don’t know the food that well. I’ve really liked it whenever I’ve had it. The razor clams are special. The meatballs made of forcemeat wrapped in a slice of meat are really good. The fried cakes of oyster or shrimp are amazing
There are reasons why there are Thai restaurants all over this country in areas without Thai coimmunity. I am just surprised that there isn’t demand at all here. After all we have three or so Tibetan Momo houses
Also, many immigrants might know how to make homestyle food. But this is one of the eight great cuisines. There is a whole tradition of food at every level. I don’t expect immigrants who come here for economic reasons to necessarily be masters at making Buddha jumps the wall
The dark side of this is a lot of Fujianese restaurant operators gotta pay the Dragon Head in Manhattan Chinatown. So you won’t see much on the west coast.
Another dark side is the reason for the bus network out of Manhattan is that a good portion of the Fujianese restaurant workers are here illegally and cannot use traditional forms of transportation which require identification. Those who are unfamiliar with the episode of the Golden Venture, which sank off the coast of Queens in the 1990s, killing 10 migrants, might want to check the story out. The survivors were eventually deported back to Fujian, yet some tried migrating again to New York not long after their return to China.
Yes, Sweet Aroma Cafe was open for just a few months starting in 2010. It was in the plaza on the SW corner of Las Tunas and Mission, in the spot that later became Emperor Noodle with the giant Shanghai dumplings. The only notation I have is that I ate fish in red wine sauce there.
Illegality /lack of documentation?
Aren’t there plenty of folks working in food service without proper immigration documentation? Maybe not restaurant owners but…
Still you need a population base although not as much as in the past
Quanjude had a branch in Rosemead in the 90s that was excellent but local Chinese /from different regions couldn’t see spending that kind of money for .18, duck dish banquets. They tried to cater to locals by adding some abalone and sea cucumber dishes to new banquet menus but to no avail.
Still 101 noodle did well without a huge Shandong beifang population
The issue with the Fujianese workers is that while most of them first land in Manhattan Chinatown, they fan out from there to all parts of the eastern United States. Basically staffing for Fujianese owned restaurants occurs in Manhattan Chinatown, whether the restaurant is located in St. Louis, St. Paul, St. Petersburg or St. Albans. A worker looking for a new gig will hop the bus back to Manhattan, and get a new job via one of the dozens of Chinese restaurant employment agencies. Then in less than 24 hours he can hop another bus to a new job in a completely different part of the country.
My knowledge of the sinking, and the history around it, is thanks to Patrick Radden Keefe’s “ The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream”:
Thanks chandavkl. Sweet Aroma Cafe was around such a short time that I didn’t even get to try it, or - obviously - even figure out exactly where around the Las Tunas/Mission intersection it was. I wasn’t spending much time in those plazas around that time, which is why I can’t recall locations of some of the more short-lived restaurants around that intersection.
I thought both of these might be dictation errors, and then I decided to look up “Buddha jumps the wall” since I had never heard of that.
From Buddha Jumps Over The Wall Soup (佛跳墙)
## WHY IS IT CALLED ‘BUDDHA JUMPS OVER THE WALL’?
Every dish comes with a beginning, and this one – with its seemingly odd name – is no different!
It is said that back during the Qing Dynasty, a scholar travelling by foot had kept his food preserved in a clay jar.
Once he got hungry and began cooking it over an open flame, a meditating monk (who was not to eat any meat) caught the scent of the dish and was completely drawn to the fragrance.
The monk then proceeded to jump over the wall to eat the dish, breaking his pledge. When asked about it later, the monk would reply that the meal was so good that even Buddha would jump over the wall to have some!
Classic Chinese course. Luxe ingredients, tedious and meticulous preparation; considered an epitome of Fujianese banquet fare (AKA baller dish).
Just the kind of thing a scholar would put in a jar to eat on the road.
I think it was Noodle Island before which, at the time, had some of the best chicken rice in SoCal.
There are all kinds of origin stories. The one I heard…
The Buddha himself, Sakyamuni, dedicated to compassion to all living things, was sitting in his walled garden in India contemplating.
A man from Fujian came by. Set up his cooking pot outside the wall, and proceeded to make the dish which has many many kinds of fish and seafood, poultry, mammals, all prepared and cooked up into an amazing stew.
The smell was so enticing and tempting that the Buddha himself did not just walk out of the garden to have some but literally jump over the wall to taste it.
Thanks for the note. I changed eighth grade to eight great
Oh, I liked the typo! And I think it was clear what you had intended to say (write).