Chinatown in New York City has no shortage of good food. In fact, the city boasts as many as NINE separate Chinatowns, all packed with delicious food to eat.
One of the favorite Chinese delicacies that people go to Chinatown to eat are 饺子(jiao zi) or dumplings.
NYC has a number of popular dumpling places, both in and out of Chinatown. Vanessa’s Dumplings, for example, has four locations across the city. Some consider it to have the best dumplings in New York.
I used to be a common visitor of Vanessa’s in Manhattan, and I can confirm that their dumplings are delicious. But it took me a year of living in New York City to hear of a place that blows Vanessa’s out of the water.
“My favorite food is dumplings,” I said to my friend one day in Chinese class. Another classmate turned to me.
“Have you been to Shu Jiao Fu Zhou in Chinatown? It’s three dollars for ten dumplings!” Anyone who’s lived in New York City knows that there’s almost nothing you can buy for three dollars there.
So, being a college student who loves dumplings, I had to investigate.The next weekend I enlisted my friend’s help and went about tracking down this mysterious restaurant.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is not like most of the restaurants in Chinatown. It has no English name, and it resides in a small building painted with Chinese characters.
Below reads ‘Fu Zhou Cuisine’ in English. Inside, the interior is small and slightly cramped. There are a handful of tables you can sit at. They’re all decorated with bottles of vinegar and soy sauce, and cups full of chopsticks.
And, like my classmate had said, they sell ten dumplings for $3. Given the price, I couldn’t believe it when they handed me a plate piled high with steaming hot dumplings.
The dumplings are cheap, and best of all, they’re delicious. The menu at Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is packedwith delicious, authentic Chinese food.
All their food comes at the same low price point. For example, their extremely popular peanut noodles are $2. Beef tripe soup is $2 for a small bowl and $3 for a large. It’s so affordable that I couldn’t believe I’d never heard it before.
Its lack of mainstream popularity is exactly what makes Shu Jiao Fu Zhou so amazing. Its existence spreads mostly through word of mouth, and the occasional online review.
Even so, its small interior is always packed with customers, and sometimes it’s hard to find a place to sit. There’s nothing fancy or intimidating about the food they serve. You pay (with cash only), eat, and then throw away your own paper plate on the way out.
You can hear the workers yelling to each other in Fujianese from anywhere in the restaurant.
“A restaurant doesn’t have to be fancy to be delicious,” says one online review. “Shu Jiao Fu Zhou… has some seriously tasty eats.” That’s exactly the charm of the place. It’s not fancy, or intimidating. It’s simple: good food served at amazing prices.
“The pork and chive dumplings were the best I’ve ever had”, said another Google reviewer. “Clearly masterful and amazing quality put into the product”.
“Don’t let the décor scare you,” says another. “This is the best steamed dumpling I’ve had in my entire life.”
“The peanut noodles are to die for,” says yet another.
Shu Jiao Fu Zhou is a rare gem in a city stuffed to the brim with restaurants. Next time you’re craving dumplings, skip Vanessa’s and head into Chinatown to try it out.
Be prepared to be blown away by the best $3.00 dumplings and $2.50 peanut noodles you’ll ever have. You won’t regret it.