When Fung Tu chef Jonathan Wu and his partner, Wilson Tang, decided to elevate the egg roll, they didn’t have far to go for inspiration. Wu was already a fan of the original “The Original” egg roll at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, the Chinatown institution that Tang had recently inherited from his uncle, Wally Tang. That celebrated snack distinguishes itself by substituting an egg crêpe for the customary prefab wrapper and Aunt Jemima self-rising flour for the fry batter. Wu’s interpretation, in the playful spirit of Fung Tu’s modern Chinese-American menu, expands on the theme, flavoring the crêpe with garlic chives and dusting it with a blend of Wondra flour and potato starch for extra crunch. His pork-belly-and-olive filling deviates from the norm, too, melding the Per Se alum’s childhood memories and fine-dining background. The result, accompanied by a lemon mayo rather than a packet of Chinese hot mustard, is both fresh and familiar, equal parts tinkering and tribute.
1. Wu rubs pork belly with spices like cumin and coriander before steaming it in a high-tech combi oven.
2. Raised by an olive-loving mother and intrigued by the discovery of an indigenous Asian variety, Wu mixes in niçoise and Picholine olives among the filling’s melted leeks, pickled Thai bird chiles, and cilantro.
3. The egg-wrapper idea comes from Nom Wah, and the Wondra-flour trick from Nathan Myhrvold’s recipe for Korean fried chicken.
4. The final touch: a quick dip in “Chinese crazy glue,” what Wu calls a flour-and-water batter that crisps up in the deep fryer.
On the menu at: Fung Tu $13 for two; 22 Orchard St., nr. Canal St.; 212-219-8785.
*This article appeared in the February 24, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.