The worldwide migration of Fujian people in the past 100 years has had an enormous influence on the popularisation of the province's food. The Taiwanese diet largely evolved in Fujian. If you go to any Chinese restaurant in New York's Chinatown it's likely to be Fujianese. Provincial capital Fuzhou, a metropolis of five million people, is an eating experience in itself, with strange street food and noisy, packed restaurants. All prices are from 200 yuan for dinner for two.
2 Dong Jie Street, Fuzhou (tel: [86 591] 8753 3604)
The eatery here has been a Fuzhou institution for a century, with its army of staff and seating for more than 900 on several floors. Almost everyone comes for its most famous dish, Fo Tiao Qiang (Buddha jumps over the wall). This delicacy has more than 20 ingredients, including shark's fin, scallops, chicken, duck, pigs' trotters, mutton and wine. Two days' notice is required to prepare a 10-person feast (5,000 yuan). A single serving is available for 200 yuan. Excellent soups (a major part of the Fujian diet), snake, tortoise and fresh seafood with such exotic monikers as 'Elephant nose clam with mustard' are also available.
Rongchen and Taijiang roads
Food streets are native to nearly every Chinese city and Fuzhou has two of note. The new food street on Taijiang Road is popular with the younger set for its east-west offerings, but can be homogenised. The real eating action can be found at the adjoining Rongchen Road, where the old food street offers four blocks of stores and stalls. Tu Zha Er is a naan-like spicy flat bread that has the punters lining up, and fresh seafood is abundant and cheap.
Huangqi Seafood Drinkery
131 North Changle Lu
(tel: [86 591] 8714 6333)
A mere 40km from the Taiwan Strait, Fuzhou boasts an abundance of fresh seafood. At the aptly named Huangqi Seafood Drinkery the fare is prepared Fujian style, meaning lightly salted and not spicy. Along with more common offerings are periwinkles, whelks, steamed razor clams and sea slugs. The sea moss soup with egg is a speciality at the four-restaurant chain, as are thin and crispy oyster pancakes. Fujian-made Sedrin beer, the dominant brew in the province, provides a light accompaniment.
Yongquan Temple Vegetarian Restaurant
Gushan (Drum Hill)
Located halfway up Gushan in the magnificent Yongquan Temple complex, this vegetarian restaurant offers no-frills relief for those who just want to sit down and enjoy a tasty meal after an arduous hike. Here, the 'Buddha jumps over the wall' dish has a vegetarian incarnation, along with clear, light broths and hearty, thick noodles. Tea is also a big attraction, with blends featuring fresh flowers and herbs poured from a half-metre spout.