I’m pretty sure Napoleon Dynamite has no Chinese cinematic equivalent, but if he did surely he’d say, “No, go find your own,” when it comes to Tianjin turnip tots. Salty and scrumptious, the crunchy morsels are even good cold, which is how I ate them the day I discovered them at Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall.
“Luo bo wan zi,” Mr. Xie the owner of Tianjin Xianbing, a stall better known for savory pancakes, responded when asked how to say the name of this newfound snack.
I was having dinner at Biang! later that night so I exercised some self restraint and put away the tots. Unlike Napoleon I shared my Tianjin turnip tots with a friend. “These are really good,” my pal the chef said. I can’t wait to try luo bo wan zi when they’re hot. It shouldn’t be too hard to convince my friend Xie to roll them up into an egg bing.
Tianjin Xianbing, Golden Shopping Mall, 41-28 Main Street, Stall D1, Flushing
Turnip is luo bo, not po. It’s luo bo wan zi, or direct translation, turnip balls.
Thanks for pointing that out DH!
Hi Joe, I am from Beijing and we called these su wan zi (translation: vegetarian balls). The ones in Bejing are much softer than these because there is more flour. They are awesome snacks in the frigic Beijing cold!