Tour of my ancestral land – Part 3 – Fuqing and Fuzhou
The only clue I had when searching for my grandfather’s hometown was my surname. As the Chinese proverb goes, that sounds like searching for a needle in the ocean bed, right? Fortunately, in the olden days, Chinese families, those with the same surname, stick closely together. An entire village would consist of families of the same descent. And so, just by searching using my surname, I managed to find two villages in Fuqing where people with the same surname as mine lived.
To be honest, i felt that my chances were pretty low on actually hitting the jackpot, but it would be good enough for me just to get a feel of the place.
We met a man who was guessing we came to look for relatives, and he offered to help. He keeps a genealogy of the 高 family. Unfortunately, he had no record of my grandfather. Nevertheless, I still believe that my grandfather once lived not far from this place.
The villages in Fuqing felt familiar. They felt like Japan! There is a reason for this. I read from an online source that Fuqing people make up a tenth of the Chinese permanent residents in Japan! The modern houses built in Fuqing were among the most aesthetically appealing ones in the whole of Fujian, and arguably the whole of China. Even the high-rise buildings in Fuqing look better than most elsewhere in China.
Our meal in Fuqing – except for the Kompyang (光饼), there was nothing famliar on the menu. I guess over time, people’s preference change, and the ingredients available locally are also quite different, and because of this, the food that are considered classic Fuqing among Malaysian Fuqing people cannot be found in Fuqing itself.
Fuzhou is just a short distance from Fuqing. We made a short stop at Minjiang park. Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian, is a big city. Our agenda in Fuzhou was food.
Old Foochow is a famous restaurant in Fuzhou, and i think it’s worthwhile trying it once. The quality of the food is more than satisfactory.
In Fuzhou, for me at least, there was only one must-go tourist attraction – Sanfang Qixiang (三坊七巷). Buildings dating back to even the Ming dynasty (before 1644). We alighted from the Taxi at the southern end, and coincidentally, there was a branch of the famous Tongli dumpling shop (同利肉燕).
I had in mind to also try the noodles in sauce (拌面) that is popular in Fuzhou. I’m inferring that it is this particular noodle dish that is the predecessor of the Kampua and Kolo Mee of Sarawak, since there are many Fuzhou descendents especially in Sibu, Sarawak. Well, turns out that this noodle dish is not even half as good as the noodles from Sarawak. It is still worth a try of course.
It is not actually a Fuzhou dish itself actually, but from Shaxian (沙县), west of Fuzhou, and one will notice that there are eateries called 沙县小吃 everywhere, even in Guangdong.
Anyway, based on reviews, we went to 张氏 to try this noodles, but when i arrived, i noticed that the shop billboard is altered, and the word 张 is removed. As i was lazy to go further, i decided to just give it a try. Bad mistake. I should have gone to 玲记 which isn’t too far away from here.
I did manage to try the noodles proper again the next day, from the city-wide chain Chunbaiwei (淳百味), and it is much better.
For dinner, based on reviews, i chose this restaurant that is said to serve food within 10 minutes of ordering. It was indeed the case. A satisfying and fairly priced meal here.
We’re not really into shopping, and there’s no need to since you can pick up just about anything from Taobao. We did go to Carrefour to check out the foodstuff. The local specialties that you might want to bring home are dried seafood, fresh olives and perhaps Jasmine tea.
If you did a search, you will not find many restaurants that claim to sell traditional Fuzhou food. Thankfully, i did still manage to find one – Shanyuan 膳园.
榕城古街 is a pedestrian street with shops built in the style of Ming and Qing dynasty architecture. It was rejuvenated in 1990, but has seen decline since then. The shops are struggling, and it feels sad. It reminds me of the global trend where brick and mortar retail shops are just dying. Worth 5 minutes of your time on your way to Dongbai (东百) shopping mall and Minjiang river bank.
I chose Honor (荣誉大酒楼) for dinner, but they were packed. In fact, there were three or four wedding dinners being held concurrently! An eye opener as I’ve never ever seen a restaurant that had such capacity! Instead, we went to Wugejia (武哥家), which turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Minjiang river bank is a nice place for a stroll after dinner.
Someone mentioned that one is not considered to have visited Fuzhou if one didn’t try Guobianhu (锅边糊), made of cooking rice batter on the sides of a pot. We gave it a go for breakfast.
The trip wraps up with a final meal at the outskirts of Quanzhou (泉州) near the expressway toll booth. It was an awesome meal at Yuanhua (远华饭店), sampling their signature Jiangmu duck (姜母鸭) and beef soup (牛杂汤).