Thursday, 8 July 2010

Fook Yin

11/F, 488 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay
Visited 7th July 2010

The theme for my tasting group's wine dinner this month was Riesling, and we headed across to Fook Yin to match it up with some Shanghainese food. I'm not a 100% certain about how I've translated the name, but the Chinese is '福宴'. Private Kitchens are all the rage at the moment, but many aren't really 'private’ kitchens at all, but just tiny, purpose built restaurants. This however is not the case with Fook Yin where you really feel like you're dinning in someone's home. The room we were ushered into had just enough room for a table, trinket filled side boards and the very homely touch of a TV.
There’s no choice at Fook Yin; just a list and a never-ending stream of Shanghainese dishes. First off we munched our way through an extensive selection of snacks. I loved the delicious, rich and earthy sautéed mushrooms, though I wasn't as impressed with the uninspiring mashed broad beans. The fillets of fried fish were pretty good; tasty, but dry. I'm a fan of flat noodles with cucumber and sesame and wasn't disappointed with the big pile we got. The pigs’ ear salad was also really good; crunchy slithers of pig ear contrasted with fresh herbs and crisp salad leaves. Rich, smoky and flavoursome the preserved chicken was tasty, but really intense. I was a bit uninspired by the plate of chicken feet and bowl of tofu topped with preserved egg, but these aren’t dishes I particularly get excited over. The table full of dishes I listed above was just the appetisers so when the mains started to arrive I was almost overwhelmed by variety and amount of food. The first of the main dishes was a plate of beautiful smoked eggs; these were magnificently cooked with delightfully runny yokes and plenty of flavour. Next was a bowl of noodles with prawns in a chilli based sauce. The dish was sweeter and milder than I expected but still pretty tasty. Then it was a couple of different types of handmade, tofu wrapped dumplings served in a tasty soup. The steamed Grouper atop tofu that followed was probably my favourite of the mains. The fish was beautifully cooked and the well complemented by the silky beancurd and mild sauce. Next where three massive 'lion head' meatballs with bok choy and a sweet and sour sauce. The huge balls of pork were pretty good and appropriately meaty, though the sauce seemed to lack richness needed to complement so much meat. I enjoyed the sea cucumber and fish soup that followed; it was fresh, clean and rather delicious. The final main was a smoky, roasted chicken that was OK, though nothing special.
I'm a big Riesling fan, but I was a little underwhelmed with the line-up of wines we tried. As a result my favourite was pretty easy to pick; the rich and complex Domaine Weinbach 'Cuvée Sainte Catherine' Alsace Grand Cru 2000; a truly lovely drop. I enjoyed my feed of authentic, fresh and tasty food at Fook Yin. A lot of the guys I was with thought that at $300 a head the meal was over-priced, but I thought it decent value considering the amount and variety of food. I was also impressed with how well the food worked with the Rieslings we tried. I’m sure people will argue that there’re better Shanghainese restaurants out there, but for me Fook Yin was perfect for our needs. The intimate ‘private’ environment worked well for our group and the wine, food and company all contributed to a lovely evening.

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