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