Fung Tu In The Lower East Side | Tasting Table NYC

Ambition and flavor team-up at Chinatown's Fung Tu

"That's something one of my aunts makes," Jonathan Wu says of his smoked chicken, anise-marinated tofu and cilantro salad.

Well, sort of.

Wu adds a paste of Worcestershire and applesauce to the chicken and pairs it with a masa scallion pancake ($15) inspired by a trip to San Francisco.

"I got addicted to La Palma Molino Tortilleria's huaraches with black bean spread. To mimic them, we make our version with black salted soybeans."

Wu, a Per Se alum, opened Fung Tu in late November with partners Wilson Tang of Nom Wah, chef John Matthew Wells and sommelier Jason Wagner.

Jonathan Wu (right) and John Matthew Wells | Roasted beets | Booth dining | Fried dates

The restaurant is an elegantly red-accented beacon on a street that's densely dark and quiet. The team's multicultural backgrounds (Wu is Chinese-American, Wells is a native of Georgia) come to bear in an intensely personal menu that's doing for Chinese-American cooking what the Torrisi boys did for Italian-American tastes.

There's just nowhere else in Chinatown, or anywhere else in the city, to eat food like this right now. Period.

Soulful little silky dumpling knots are made in a spätzle maker and served under a blanket of Sichuan ground pork sauce ($19). "We jokingly call it our house ragu," says Wu.

Wells even gets his Southern kicks in with fried pork chops with pickled mustard cabbage ($24) and fluffy Parker House steamed buns ($12) stuffed with sunchokes, Shiitake mushrooms and glass noodles.

"I grew up eating stir-fried beef and broccoli one night and corn beef hash the next," says Wu, who comes by his culinary mash-ups honestly.

Clearly, the diet of future chef champions.