Fung Tu is the latest of the upscale Chinese restaurants popping up around the city. I do like that Fung Tu is on Orchard Street near the heart of Chinatown. There is no question the second you walk into the restaurant that the owners are big on customer service and that they come from high end restaurants. And they do, Jonathan Wu from Per Se, John Wells from Mas Farmhouse and WIlson Tang. I like the concept of a better end Chinese restaurant with a great wine list and some delicious cocktails from the beverage director Jason Wagner. This is not your typical order in on the fly Chinese restaurant.
(photo alert - i forgot my camera and the phone just doesn't do it for me. the photo above is from Eater)
The menu is not huge, 22 dishes in total. I went with Fred so we did not taste as many things as I would like to. This is definitely a place to go with at least four. Sharing is key. We began with one starter. Smoked and fried dates stuffed with duck. These were incredible. I happen to love dates and I could have eaten more than a handful of these. The flavors melded together with the date just melting in your mouth.
Chinese sashimi with snow pea leaves was just too precious. The fish was fresh and well sliced but there was no flavor there. There is an opportunity to create sushi Chinese style with chili oil, peanuts, cilantro, you name it and they missed the mark here.
Cilantro and cashew chicken salad over a Masa scallion pancake. The pancake was crispy and you need a knife to cut into it. I liked this dish. They could be a little heavier handed here on the chicken but nice flavors.
Braised beef, pickled cucumbers, and watercress wrapped inside a crepe. This was really good. I should have cut it open before taking a shot. The beef was buttery and flavorful with the crunch of the pickles it hit the spot.
Stir fried soybean sprouts with squid and bacon over rice. This was the best thing. Although not the same thing it reminded me of mushi-pork. We licked this bowl clean. Creative dish with diferent textures and flavors. A winner.
We also had the whole fish for two. Stuffed with fennel, tangerine peel, chili and fermented beans. This just could have been more interesting. The flavors were so mellow, the fish easily pulled apart because it was steamed it did nothing for me.
A few things I really like and would have liked to try more. When you make a reservation on line they ask you if there are any allergy issues. That comes from people who understand how to make the customer number one. The restaurant works with ease. There is an understated calm to the place. The service is excellent. I'd just like them to be bolder in their flavors and take a little more risk. The idea is great and the place has a nice vibe. My guess is over time the menu will change here and there and the chef will begin to feel more confident and go for those big flavors.