Hua Yi Jia

I love a Chinese restaurant menu where the English names of the dishes are so obscure that I want to try them all. Now, I’m not referring to misspellings like balck for black or drued for dried. If I could write in Chinese a fraction as well as they write in English, I’d be thrilled. Respect.

I’m talking about dishes with names like Pot Edge or Meter Hour or Old Wine and Old Man. And when I scanned the Chinese characters on the menu in the first example (謝謝, Google Translate), it returned “Side of Pot” – not particularly enlightening. But that’s precisely why I need to go back.

So when we visited Hua Yi Jia (aka Huayijia) at 5616 7th Avenue in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park, we selected three items that were intriguing in either name or content.

(Click on any image to view it in high resolution.)

Fried Eel with Lees

We’re assuming Fujianese cuisine is the order of the day because of the neighborhood and the presence of red wine lees in this dish. Wine lees are the sediment from fermenting and aging rice and red rice bran to make red glutinous wine, sort of the dregs. (But they’re not bitter dregs, Mr. Spock; they’re actually in-your-face umami brokers.) Look closely past that crispy coating on the pieces of fried eel and you’ll see the characteristic red color. Definitely tasty, but beware of tiny bones – it was worth taking a moment to establish an anatomically informed strategy for each piece.

Dried Mutton with Razor Clam

Served in a Japanese bowl, this soup was flavored with an abundance of rehydrated mutton and a paucity of razor clam. No matter, I’m sure it was the luck of the ladle and it was worth trying once.

Pot Edge

Of course we did. Turns out to be another Fujianese soup, so called because it’s made by pouring rice flour batter around the side of a wok to form a thin noodle which is then scraped into simmering broth enhanced with shredded greens.

Looking forward to my next visit!