Fu-Lin, 9645 Central Ave. (at San Bernardino Road), Montclair
The sign near the sidewalk for Fu-Lin always makes me chuckle, but I’d never gone in until this week. In honor of April Fool’s Day, it was time. (The sign reads “Fulin,” but all the references online are to “Fu-Lin,” the spelling I’ll go with here.)
From the outside Fu-Lin looks like a big box. In back there’s a large parking lot and an entrance. The interior, while dated, is nicer than I’d expected with Chinese prints, a relief mural and windows letting in a lot of natural light.
Fu-Lin, which opened in 1990, has the usual Mandarin and Szechuan dishes, as well as Chinese American standbys like chop suey and egg foo young. But according to a Korean American friend whose family loves the place, there’s a subtle Korean tinge to the menu. You can get a cold combination, ja jiang myun or ya kki mandoo. It was only after leaving that I noticed at least some of the lettering on the exterior is in Korean.
The lunch specials, available every day but Sunday, are all priced between $4.25 and $5.50. I had garlic chicken ($4.65), which turned out to be steaming hot and fairly spicy. This came with a dollop of rice, two wontons, an eggroll and a cup of hot and sour soup. For $6 with tax and tip, this was a filling lunch, and better than expected.
Yelp reviewers seem of two minds about the place, unable to agree on whether it’s great or terrible. Quality-wise I’d compare Fu-Lin to Rancho Cucamonga’s China Point or Upland’s China Gate, two other old-school Chinese American restaurants.
Fu-Lin was busy; even at 1:30 on a weekday, 12 tables or booths were occupied with some 30 diners, many Latino and some Asian. Fu-Lin must be doing something right. No foolin’.