Restaurant of the Week: Fu-Lin

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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’.

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  • shirley wofford

    I have marveled off and on about how this place has managed to keep going for 20 years. I wonder if they are now only open for lunch–I have seen it dark when I have passed by, evenings. If they are open, it might help if they light up some signage, etc. I used to eat there for lunch, occasionally, when I was working. The food was good.

  • We enjoyed our experience here. The food we had was very good for this type of restaurant.

    We haven’t been back as we frequent Star Wok in Claremont, and since Cafe Montclair closed, we don’t get down on that side of the freeway anymore.

    Old school Chinese, but tasty.

  • Jai Forney

    When we moved here, my then elementary aged son decided we had to try this restaurant because he was sure the round red door in the front was a hobbit hole. (Yes, he’s still a geek, and proud of it. Me too.)

    [Don’t leave us in suspense, Jai: Was it a hobbit hole? — DA]

  • Tad Decker

    Before 1990, was this restaurant called “The Phoenix”? That is my recollection, but I am not sure of it.

  • shirley wofford

    The original restaurant at that location was a Chinese restaurant, “The Phoenix” — it was in operation during the mid-70’s, to sometime in the 80’s. I cannot remember if it was anything else between that and “Fu-Lin”.