*Sorry for the blurry/dark photos. I have a lot of trouble holding my hands super still when the shutter speed is suuuuuper slow, but when you’re in a dark restaurant…
A few days after I returned from my awesome NOLA trip, I met up with Hungry and Dessert Zombie to check out Fung Tu – brought to us by the same people behind Nom Wah – the oldest dim sum parlor in NYC, renovated and rejuvenated. Nom Wah just announced they are opening a second location in Philly – good luck and best wishes!!!
Since I have heard so much about the Eggroll Version 2, we ordered this. Perfectly sized for our party of 4; I found this super crisp on the outside and very flavorful on the inside, with a deceptively creamy and cool-looking sauce that actually boasted quite a kick. One bad thing – maybe this is because I am incapable of eating without getting food on myself – I picked this up with my hands and when I bit into it, hot oil exploded in my mouth and down my wrist. I spent the rest of the meal feeling rather oily on my face and hands, despite repeated wiping on my napkin and even a trip to the bathroom to wash my hands again. This doesn’t change my opinion of the dish, as none of my dining companions seemed to experience the same distress – but perhaps if you are as prone to food accidents as I am, you may want to be careful.
I’d just had a similar dish at Kung Fu (which will be posted on Friday), and was interested in trying another version: basically a pancake rolled around ‘aromatic beef’ (a dish which anyone who grew up eating Chinese food should be familiar with by that name). Another dish that I found very tasty, though this one didn’t explode all over me. Maybe because I was already wary after the egg roll…
We ordered Chinese sashimi out of sheer curiosity; the raw fish was very lightly seasoned. I mean VERY LIGHTLY seasoned, to the point we all wished someone with a heavier hand had prepared this dish. Honestly, though, if you look at the other appetizers we shared, there was no way this could have stood up to them; the lack of fat just automatically made it a lighter dish that was unlikely to stand out in our mouths. Not to say it wasn’t fresh or tasty – just not noteworthy relative to its companions.
I thought this was a fresh tofu dish – which I don’t see on the menu right now – but I recall this being super silky, smooth, and a lovely if mild dish. Again, a little more seasoning would have gone a long way, though I really enjoyed the texture. Particularly when a spoonful was taken with the topping – which was seasoned well – this was a great dish.
Now for the entrees; DZ ordered the dumpling knots with a Sichuan pork sauce. It’s very hard to see in the photo, but we all discussed what dumpling knots meant and decided it was dumpling skins (which are generally made of a very plain dough that I believe contains water, flour, salt), but tied into knots. Maybe they were, but they were super tiny. Like the size of my pinky nail. I think the texture suffered from the size; the amount of chewiness that could have resulted from such a preparation really intrigued us but this lacked that. DZ ate it, but mentioned that the sauce – while flavorful – would have been better suited to my noodles.
Mr. M&P ordered the clear winner of the night: stir fried soybean sprouts with squid and bacon over rice. I tried a piece of squid and found it seasoned very nicely and I could imagine happily eating it over rice the way he did. Winner!
Hungry and I both ordered a noodle dish: yellow noodles with chopped clams, black bean sauce, wild ramps, lap cheong (Chinese sausage), and chili oil.
I ordered it entirely for the ramps.
While the noodles were lovely to chew and contemplate, something was lacking in this overall dish. The heat wasn’t overly noticeable, and the overall effect was just… hey, these are noodles, and I’m going to eat them because I ordered them, but it wasn’t something memorable that I’m screaming to eat again. There was a lot of potential, but in the end, it failed to deliver.
Overall, the appetizers/small plates we started with were much better-received than our entrees. I really enjoyed certain dishes, and the service plus ambiance is lovely. Unfortunately, given the proximity to Chinatown and the dishes’ lack of ambition nor delivery on potential, plus the rather high prices, I would have to give this a solid pass.
As Hungry and I discussed our feelings about the meal: neither of us would have minded the prices if the dishes had deviated more strongly from Chinese cuisine. The chef has been classically trained in French cuisine; if he applied French techniques to the Chinese dishes, something amazing could happen, and I would be more than happy to eat that. Unfortunately, everything we ate played it safe and was very much Chinese cuisine cooked by a chef who used to work in a French kitchen.
One day, I’ll find a place that does a perfect blend of French and Chinese cuisine. I’ll bring a potato and call it home…
After our conversation about Fung Tu, I tried to think of the perfect description of what I wanted and that is: refined. I wish the meal and dishes were more refined in the classically French way.
Feisty Foodie says
That is exactly it – you hit it on the head.
Corinne Flax says
I just went to Nom Wah for the first time and left feeling a bit disappointed. Maybe we didn’t order right but the food was greasier than I’d have liked and the flavors were too muddled.
Feisty Foodie says
I really like Nom Wah, but I haven’t been in a while. I’m sorry to hear your experience was less than awesome!
Dessert Zombie says
Meat sauce good. Knots not so much. Too clumpy for my liking.
Pricey meal that should’ve had a little more going on than the appetizers and ambiance. I would rather go to Nom Wah.
Feisty Foodie says
Dim sum all day every day!