Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fung Tu

A while ago, I suggested to The Feisty Foodie and Dessert Zombie that I wanted to try Fung Tu. Their menu looked interesting and the chef is from Per Se. Yes, I wanted to see a modern take on Chinese food. Asian food is commonly regarded as really affordable comfort food. But why can't it be more? Why can't it be elevated into something that's more fancy using quality ingredients and showcasing classic French techniques. I went to Fung Tu with that in mind.
Dessert Zombie, Mr. M&P, and I arrived on time for our reservation. While we waited for FF to arrive, we snacked on a couple of the appetizers like the Smoked and Fried Dates with duck ($7). I enjoyed these. The sweet, salty mixture of the dates and duck together. I also enjoyed the softness of the date compared to the crispness of the batter on the outside.

We also tried the Shrimp Toast ($14) with century egg salad and trout roe. These little triangle sandwiches really reminded me of the sandwich maker I had as a child. I LOVED that thing. Every afternoon, I would put white bread and cold cuts into the maker. Close it and it would toast the bread, melt the cheese, and warm the ham all at once. I was quite the sad little Hungry when it broke one day. But boy did I get good use out of it.
Anyway, back to the shrimp toast. The bread and nice and toasted while the shrimp inside was of good quality. But that's it. Nothing else really shined for me. It certainly did not taste bad but it just didn't interest me.

Once FF arrived, we ordered a bunch more to share while picked our own main courses. To share, we had the Chinese Sashimi ($14) with snow pea leaves. I enjoyed the freshness of the fish and the thin sliced. However, it was severely under seasoned leaving me feeling dissatisfied with the dish. A sprinkle of salt, acid, and/or fat would have gone a long way here.
The Jian Bang Crepe Roll ($13) with braised beef, pickled cucumbers, and watercress and nice. The crepe reminded me of a dosa actually. Very light and thin with a good balance of flavorful meat and vegetables inside. Nicely balanced. I liked this and would get it again.
The Original Egg Roll Version 2 ($13) was something that everyone wanted to try. Nom Wah is known for their original egg roll version 1. So we wanted to see what was different with this one. The biggest difference that I can detect is the wrapper. This one seemed less crispy (but certainly not soggy at the least). It's really what they used as the wrapper. While I want to say that the wrapper on this version was more like a scallion pancake, I could be completely wrong. Anyway, I very much enjoyed this dish for the crispyness of it as well as the filling with meat, mushrooms, and vegetables. It wasn't a mysterious mush. Instead, each ingredient can be identified with the naked eye and I can appreciate that.
This is the Silken Fish Doufu ($12) with dried beef and seaweed served hot. The Chinese has done something really wonderful which is combine fish and tofu together. I've had a version of this before and wanted to see how it would be like at Fung Tu. Well, they didn't disappoint. The doufu was silky as ever without any hints of fishyness. Instead, it was smooth, creamy and lightly savory from the dried beef and seaweed on top. I could spoon this over rice and call it a day. Very nice.
For our entrees, Mr. M&P had the Stir Fried Soy Bean Sprouts with Squid and Bacon over Rice ($21). He enjoyed his dish and thought it to be the best of all the main dishes that night. We did not disagree. It was a good mix of carbs, vegetables, and meat. A lot of textures and flavors played well here.
Dessert Zombie had the Dumpling Knots with Szechuan Pork Sauce ($22). While we wall thought the idea was pretty cool (noodles tied into knots for the texture profile), the execution didn't meet our expectations. The noodles were a bit too chewy. However, the meat sauce was very nice and clearly the best part of the dish.
FF and I both ordered the Yellow Noodles with Chopped Clams ($23), black bean sauce, wild ramps, and lap cheong, and chili oil. The noodles were nicely chewy which the black bean sauce and chili oil boasted the strongest flavors. The bits of clam and vegetables came through in each bite. I enjoyed this but didn't feel as if I were eating anything different. The flavors and textures seemed all too familiar to me.
And and because we try to be healthy, we also ordered a side of the sauteed greens ($4) which that night was bok choy. Lightly cooked with a slick of oil and garlic. A simple yet tasty way to cook Asian greens keeping the texture intact while adding a bit of flavor. And seasoned. This was well seasoned.
Overall I can say that I enjoyed Fung Tu. The food tasted good and the service was friendly and responsive. However, I left feeling a bit lost. The expectation of elevated Chinese cuisine was lost. I didn't feel as if the food was refined in flavor nor technique. They certainly used quality ingredients and showcased some very nice cooking methods. But overall, I guess I wasn't impressed by it. Was I expecting too much? Maybe. But was the food good? Certainly, yes.

So if you want to have some Chinese food that's not just your run of the mill dumpy banquet style joint, Fung Tu is a great choice. The decor, space, and service is wonderful. And the food is tasty too!

For the Feisty Foodie's review of the same meal, please click here.

Fung Tu
22 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 219-8785
fungtu.com

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