Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Fung Tu

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Fung Tu

Article excerpt

Open Tuesdays through Sundays for dinner. Entrees $19-$28.

TABLES FOR TWO

FUNG TU

--Hannah Goldfield

22 Orchard St. (212-219-8785)

In his 2009 book, "Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States," Andrew Coe makes a troubling proclamation: "Like their ancestors fifty and a hundred years ago, most Americans still expect Chinese food to be cheap, filling, familiar, and bland." Certainly, a wide gulf continues to exist between American Chinese food (slick lo mein with carrot and cabbage, beef and broccoli in "brown sauce") and authentic Chinese food (complexly flavored dishes with hard-to-parse names like "spicy cold jelly" and "home made style blotch soup"). The former is everywhere, the latter available mostly in out-of-the-way, drably decorated dining rooms in or near cities with large immigrant populations. But expectations are changing, not only because authentic restaurants are increasingly targeting the mainstream (Han Dynasty, a new Szechuan place in the East Village, shames timid diners by listing Americanized dishes like fried rice and spring rolls in the "Kids/Baby Adults" section of its menu) but also because a generation of young chefs is bridging the gap.

Last fall, Jonathan Wu, a Bronx-born Chinese-American who once cooked at Per Se, opened Fung Tu, a "creative" Chinese restaurant on the Lower East Side, in what used to be a small noodle factory. (Wilson Tang, a co-owner and the proprietor of Nom Wah, New York's oldest standing dim-sum parlor, helped secure the lease. …

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