Refined flavours of Chengdu, Sichuan paired with an excellent selection of Chinese baijiu in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Words Iris Wong
Food photo Happy Yuen
It seems that all we do lately is visit Harbour City and the new restaurants sprouting up in Ocean Terminal. While it’s a maze to navigate, we can’t complain about the beautiful harbour views offered by restaurants such as Fu Rong. The Hong Kong outlet is Fu Rong’s third and is part of the Xin Xiang Hui Group, one of the most recognised Sichuan dining brands in China with more than 70 restaurants worldwide. At the entrance, a row of antique wooden doors and a piece of bespoke Sichuan embroidery transport guests to an interior based on the majestic courtyard of an old Chengdu mansion. The 4,000-square-foot space boasts a dramatic interior in shades of red, brown and black, picked out by the light pouring through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the main dining area. And let’s not forget the outdoor terrace where, as well as red, white and sparkling wines, you can sip little glasses of Shui Jing Fang baijiu.
When people talk about Sichuan cuisine, they are usually referring to the bold, piquant, explosive flavours of Chongqing-style mala dishes. But Fu Rong focuses on the delicate, restrained flavours of Chengdu, Chongqing’s more refined sister. We did not have a single bad dish, and there were a few surprises that warrant a return trip to the restaurant. A must-try dish is the signature red rice porridge ($268), featuring red rice and shrimp from Lugu Lake in Sichuan. Each grain of chewy red rice – a precious crop produced in limited quantities – soaks up a golden broth, made with umami-packed shrimp and shrimp paste and cooked for hours, while crunchy green asparagus and shrimp meat lend texture to the dish. If you can handle spicy food, try the bon bon chicken ($188), which comes topped with a handmade “glass” sugar mould. Before serving, it is cracked open to release aromatic chilli oil over the shredded chicken, while the broken sugar flakes balance the dish’s mala flavour. Chengdu chicken “tofu” in consommé ($118) is a demonstration of culinary finesse. The chicken broth is clear as water and the chicken meat is minced precisely into an airy, tofu-like paste. Photogenic sweet and spicy zucchini noodles ($88) in soy sauce, presented as a traditional Chinese decorative knot, tastes even better than it looks. Finally, don’t leave without trying the shredded winter melon ($88), a hot dessert soup. The shredded melon sits in a pool of creamy coconut milk with an appearance, texture and even taste reminiscent of bird’s nest.
Crave’s Pick: Bon Bon Chicken
“Traditionally, the bon bon chicken dish must have a touch of sweetness, and since we wanted to do something different, we incorporated the artisanal element of Chinese sugar blowing by creating a sugar casing, which is then filled with a special ‘red’ oil blend that accentuates the dish’s aroma, spiciness and colour. The dish also encourages interaction between the guests as they crack open the sugar mould with a spoon, also improving the overall texture of the dish.” – Ren Tao, founder and CEO
This modern take on classic bang bang ji is topped with a delicate, handmade “glass” sugar drop filled with a special blend of chilli oil, which is cracked open with the back of a spoon to infuse the shredded chicken before eating. Tongue-numbing with a piquant kick, bon bon chicken is perfect with a steaming bowl of rice.
Fu Rong was a pleasant surprise – we’re already thinking about booking a private room for a family dinner. It is a breath of fresh air to have mala dishes that are not overly spicy, with great balance of flavour and superb presentation. As well as ordering à la carte, diners can choose the eight-course “Experience Chengdu” tasting menu ($598 per person). There’s also a wine-pairing option (an additional $298 per person): think sake, red and white wines, and Chinese baijiu.
Spending: from $300 per head
Highlights: red rice porridge, bon bon chicken
What else: Fu Rong has the most extensive baijiu menu in Hong Kong with over 35 options, including the rare vintage Kweichow Moutai from 1983 to 1986, and Chengdu’s famous Shui Jing Fang Baijiu.
Shop OTE201, 2/F Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tel: 2388 2008