Fu Rong: High-end, Savory Sichuan (8.2)

Fu Rong follows the dozens of predecessors before it—a host of more or less authentic Sichuan and Hunan restaurants that have picked up steam in Hong Kong, with the backing of a Shanghai-based group that has had lots of success with Sichuan restaurants (under other brand names) in provinces outside of Sichuan in the mainland. Except that it is one of the few that aims to be distinctively high-end and pricey. Not that I have anything against pricey restaurants per se, as long as the dining experience is worth it, but the very idea of a high-end Sichuan restaurant seems almost antithetical. It just doesn’t feel like a genuine, Sichuan meal—even if you are having chuan chuan—if there is a team of well-dressed servers standing a few inches from your table, ready to spring to action whenever you sip your water or need something.

That being said, I appreciate that there is an extravagant version of this, and I have to say that the food overall was hard to fault. While many dishes lacked a wow factor, the fish kept us returning. Hospitality was generally fine, although I think the team would need some more time to get the hang of things, as servers are not entirely knowledgeable (one told me that braised anything 紅燒 meant deep-fried food). San Xi Lou has closed down already. We will see whether the market approves of this somewhat more expensive but higher quality version of it.

Food Rundown

Bon Bon chicken / Zucchini / Hand made sugar mould, 敲糖棒棒雞, $188
This was one of the shop’s best dishes. You have to order this (although it is a bit greasy). The sauce is terribly addictive, being sweet and nutty and spicy and savory all at the same time.

Onsen quail egg / Crispy shredded potatoes, 溏辛鵪鶉蛋, $88
I’m not sure there was much synthesis between the flavors of quail egg and the spices. But the lack of flavor of the quail eggs was somewhat compensated by the crunch from the crispy potato shreds. And I loved that these were small so that I could have lots of them. Still, I rather miss preserved quail eggs with molten yolk in a spicy and sweet sauce 椒麻溏心鵪鶉皮蛋—a most delicious appetizer quite commonly seen in Sichuan and Hunan restaurants in the mainland as of late.

Thinly sliced pork belly / Cucumber / Garlic marmalade, 蒜泥白肉, $138
This was very well done.

Chinese perch / Cucumber / Duck blood curd, 花椒桂花魚, $498
Our favorite dish that we keep coming back to because the fish is so well prepared.

Chinese perch / Pickled mustard green / Potato noodles, 酸菜桂花魚, $498
The alternative, non-spicy, refreshingly sour version that we like every bit as much as the classic. They have these sweet potato flat noodles in there that are shaped in the form of flat rectangles and I love their texture and the irresistible flavor that they carry.

Roasted spring chicken, 巴蜀烤雞, $288
The chicken is a little bit dried out. I can’t really say that I liked it very much.

Squid ink dumplings / Pork, 山水墨魚餃 $98
These squid dumplings are very hearty with a great, springy texture. Of course, they also win a Beauty Contest.

Stewed cabbage / Golden soup, 金湯白菜, $138
I absolutely loved these (although I am not sure this is even remotely Sichuan).

Braised Radish / Shredded pork / Pork gravy, 肉汁蘿蔔心, $148
The radish is super tender and carries the braised sauce well.

Braised fish maw / Abalone / Spicy gravy, 四川紅燒藝品, $148
Pretty good, and not really very spicy. We were just curious. Can’t say that this was very Sichuan.

Assorted Sichuan skewers / Vegetables, 串串香, $138
The chuan chuan are OK, because the sauce is quite like what I have had in China. The attempt to give them an appearance in a high-end restaurant is applaudable, but I don’t feel satisfied with such a small quantity (I finished all of them in a split second), and baby abalone seems out of place. At street-side restaurants in China, people would have hundreds of these and enjoy the fun of ticking off favorites from a long list.

Cured meat / Sichuan pepper / Sticky rice, 花椒臘肉飯, $48
Slightly greasy and heavy, but the larou gives this a lot of flavor and aroma. If you like sticky rice, you might like this.

Pear / Snow fungus / Crystal soup, 潤肺雪梨爽, $58

Fu Rong 映水芙蓉
1103, 11/F, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
$$$, Sichuan, Chinese