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Joie De Vivre Tuesday #17: Fu Yuan Low’s Spicy Noodle Soup

Posted by Shannon on 05/17/2011

Fu Yuan Low. The person who introduced me to Fu Yuan Low has eaten here for the past 12 years. A time-tested restaurant where he has memories and traditions reaching back more than a decade.  Lunches during high school. Dinners with parents and friends. Solo meals for a quick, reliable dish. All served by a staff who have worked here from the beginning.

Today’s Joie De Vivre Tuesday is sparked by a restaurant that encapsulates many others nationwide, that play host to people’s time-tested memories, stories, and serious & light-hearted conversations over the course of a person and/or families lifetime.

Prawn w/ lobster sauce, Sauteed greens, House special rice, Spicy beef & vegetables

In existence for nearly 30 years on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and voted a 2010 Southbay Favorite Restaurant by Daily Breeze‘s readers,  I finally experienced Fu Yuan Low’s welcoming, easy vibe earlier this month for a late lunch. Steve and I were actually planning out our dinner menu, and while researching recipes on our iPhones, we lost track of time and abruptly found ourselves in the “hangry” zone. Obviously, a hungry-angry duo needs fast sustenance to keep the peace. Steve uttered, “spicy noodle soup” and it was settled. We drove a few minutes and I excitedly anticipated what was to be my inaugural treasure trove of a soup bowl.

Seconds after table delivery
Lunch of Palos Verdes Champions

Their simple menu description is a humble understatement reading, “Hot Noodles Soup (Chicken, Beef, Pork & Shrimp) … $8.45.” In addition to the four types of (quality) meat, swimming up alongside them were the prerequisite noodles and bokchoy, carrots, mushrooms,  bamboo shoots, cabbage and fire-roasted peppers.

The bowls were delivered to the table at just the right temperature that warmed up my belly, but avoided scalding my mouth when I drank a spoonful of pepper-infused broth. Noodles are boiled with restraint that avoids the mush consistency sometimes served up by an inattentive chef. This timing bears in mind that the noodles will continue cooking as they sit in the soup bowl. Then again, I also needed to remember I’m not dealing with a back kitchen full of rookies. We’re talking about more than a quarter century of culinary prowess.


Level View of the Goods

When I ate there again Friday evening, one change was the discovery of small plates of chow mein noodles anticipating diners’ arrival during dinner service. The mini mountains of golden crunchies decorated each linen and glass covered tabletop, buddied up next a saucer of red sweet & sour sauce for dipping. The tiny snacks delayed hunger’s full force as steaming oblong plates intended for other patrons were ushered past by waiters in white shirts and black bow ties.

Post-Pepper Extraction

I’ve heard “fu yuan low” and “so good” conjoined within sentences over and over in the last six months. The Palos Verdes residents I’ve talked with who are also FYL fans always utter their praises with a grin and an expression through which I see I’ve invoked a handful of positive memories that they’re gazing back into time recalling.

How many other similar memories from other restaurant regulars are housed under that one roof and occurred while gathered around those rose-colored leather booths? They are intangible and yet to be heard, but unquestionably number into the thousands. To hear them all could be a journalist’s life-long ethnographic documentary of this one destination that has become a common thread bonding the surrounding community together.

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