Like I said in my brief post repping for Real Cheap Eats, the past month and a half was spent almost exclusively preparing for (and ultimately losing) a trial. That's over now, and I've returned with one of the choicest pieces of Chinatown knowledge I've acquired in ages. Tanxia Wang Fu Zhou Cuisine is on Eldrigde, just south of well known hand-pulled noodle spot Sheng Wang, serving a succinct menu of Fujian classics.
The dumplings here are the main draw, and they're brought steaming on styrofoam plates almost as soon as you've snagged a seat (sometimes before you've even finished ordering). The waitresses speak barely any English, but you can always point at the menu along the long, constantly crowded wall. It's a busy spot, but turnover is high, so you're likely to find a seat soon enough.
Back to the dumplings. They're filled with copious greens mixed in loosely amidst slightly sweet, ground pork. With just a bit of grease–enough to coat your mouth, alerting you to the presence of fatty pork juice–these dumpling don't easily wear out their welcome. The dumpling skin (likely a commercial wrapper), is just thin enough and more than up to the task.
At just $9 for a bag of 50, it's worth bringing some home.
The wonton soup is almost as good. A drop of finely ground pork is centered around a thin, almost diaphanous, ripple of dumpling skin. (Diaphanous was my eating companion's word, not mine. I could only figure it out in context and am slightly embarrassed to admit I had to look up the actual definition.)
Peanut butter noodles ("ban mian") can be a whole meal by themselves. Bland without any additions, they're best when doused in Sriracha and thick soy sauce.
Pork balls looked vaguely testicular. They can be a little greasy, but they complement the thick broth so well that all is forgiven.
Fish balls filled with ground pork, with their slippery texture, are a chopstick workout. A slightly porkier version of gefilte fish. The broth, lighter than the one served with the pork balls, was just as good.
Significantly, this place is Dirt Fucking Cheap. Two bowls of soup, a plate of noodles and eight dumplings will only run you $9. It's impossible to spend more than $10 here (well, maybe you could get a drink). Check it out. You won't be sorry.
Tanxia Wang Fu Zhou Cuisine
13B Eldridge Street (south of Canal)
New York, NY 10002(212) 343-0548