A Taro Tale in Flushing

by James Boo on May 17, 2011 · 9 comments

tagged as , , , , , ,

Every good meal deserves a show stopper. The immediate clacking of chopsticks – springing back into pointed motion after twelve dishes and two cases of Tsingtao – was my sign that the lazy Susan had one last spin during an extensive supper at downtown Flushing’s Fu Run.

Ba Si - Candied Taro Dessert - Fu Run - Flushing - Queens, New York
Taking a victory lap around the table was an enormous platter of candied taro. Cooked in the style of ba si (“bah sih”), which roughly translates to “pulling threads,” these cubes of taro had been fried until lightly crisp on the outside. They were then tossed in caramelized sugar and brought straight to the table, where wisps of candy trailed each piece as it was coaxed from the plate.

I snatched a piece of my own from the top of the heap, stretched it high above the table to see how far its sweet threads would follow, then dunked it into the accompanying bowl of cold water, which instantly dissolved the trail and crystallized the sticky coating into a sugary shell. The newly candied taro fell onto my plate with a happy clink, a sound that could trigger hunger like the popping of frying oil or the searing of a pork chop against the pan.

Ba Si - Candied Taro Dessert - Fu Run - Flushing - Queens, New York
One bite released this steaming morsel of taro, cooked to the state of a baked sweet potato, from its crunchy shell. The layering of crystallized sugar, browned edges, and fluffy-yet-hearty taro was a minor miracle of cooking, as elegant as it was fleeting. Within minutes, the pile of taro cubes had begun to cool, melted sugar hardening into a sticky, unyielding sludge until dunking the pieces into water had lost its sorcery.

While many have singled out Fu Run’s Muslim lamb chop (and rightly so) as the restaurant’s main event, nothing on the table that night was as mystifying to me as this dessert. Tugging at its sugary threads revealed Chinese comfort food at its best: simple yet sumptuous, delicate yet direct, and quite plainly a joy to eat.

Ba Si - Candied Taro Dessert - Fu Run - Flushing - Queens, New York

Fu Run
40-09 Prince St.
Flushing, NY 11354


TT May 17, 2011 at 11:21 am

This was a fun and tasty way to end the delicious meal. Thanks again for organizing!

James Boo May 17, 2011 at 11:59 am

Sure, thing, TT. It was great to share a meal with you and the other FF folk who made it out — I’m looking forward to the next outing :]

hungry May 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

This too was my favorite dish of the night. Though I don’t normally have a sweet tooth, I couldn’t help myself with several servings of the candied taro.

Thanks for the invite!

Joon S. May 17, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Hey James, thanks also for introducing me and Mary Kate to the glorious treats of Flushing. We had a blast. I hope to do it again very soon!

ami May 18, 2011 at 12:26 pm

zomg. love love love ??. make my dinner companions here in beijing order sweet potato or taro b? s? every time we dine out. they hate me, but it’s worth it.

Danny May 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm

wow, i’ve never seen anything like this before. it just goes to show how vast regional ethnic cuisines could be, and how limited our taste buds really are.

Mai June 3, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Wow this is totally new to me. Besides candied taro, does it have any other names? I’ll have to look for it.

James Boo June 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Mai – the dessert is generally called “ba si” (pronounced “bah sit,” but without the “t”). The words describe the style of the dessert, which can be used in cooking sweet potato, apples, and other things besides taro (though I think taro is ideal).

soopling June 23, 2011 at 9:52 am

So glad you ordered the taro dessert! I went to Fu Run again a few weeks ago when I was in NYC…craving the taro again, now!

Leave a Comment