The Fujian Chinese Restaurant

Where East meets beast?

Hopefully the headline interested you enough to read all of this week’s review. Let me assure you, that it is worth it! Let me also assure you that the Fujian is a very different kind of Chinese restaurant, so forget all notions of “A number 169, a 332 and fried rice for everyone, thank you.”

The Fujian is one of the many restaurants within the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort, but is the only one dedicated to Chinese cuisine. It also has its own dedicated Chinese chef, Jovi Cheng, who like his name, is certainly a happy ‘jovial’ chap!

When you enter the resort compound, the Fujian is set back to your right, behind a small nest of exclusive shops (Khad Dara), in a two storey building described as being an elegant Sino-Portuguese style mansion, with tasteful 19th century Chinese decor from the late Qing period. (Since I have problems differentiating between late Qing and early Ming, and always remembering that two Wongs cannot make a white, I shall just believe them!)

Whatever, both storeys feature much black lacquer furniture, and (surprisingly) comfortable high-backed seating, Chinese lanterns and staff in maroon and black silk. The table settings are superb and the wine glasses likewise.

Before reading the menu, it is important to understand that it is not set out in the usual everyone sharing and can somebody turn the carousel (lazy Susan) so I can have some more prawn dumplings. The concept here is that the diner chooses individual plates. Your choice will not be filched by someone from the other side of the table!

It begins with Appetizers (B. 160-320) including Mongolian smoked pork rolls, Shanghai chilled aromatic beef shin with Mandarin orange peels and deep-fried vegetarian bean curd rolls.

Soups follow, and there are many choices, from the double boiled Yunnan mushroom (B. 180) through to the supreme bird’s nest with crab roe (B. 2,100).

Of course, if you really want the exotic, then you have your choices in abalone coming from Africa, Japan or Australia, at suitably exotic prices.

Main courses range in price from B. 300-1,250, but most are around the B. 500-700 region and include grouper fillets, snow fish, pork tenderloin, crabmeat, prawns, lamb and beef tenderloin, done in many different ways.

The menu finishes with vegetables, rice and noodle dishes and several desserts.

We tried many dishes during a relaxed evening and I was not disappointed by any of them. However, stand-outs were for me, the grouper (garoupa) fillets with Yunnan ham, and the beef (East meets beast) that was so delightfully presented on its gold-leaf platter. (I could not bring myself to just call it a ‘plate’.) I must also mention the home-made noodles, probably the best I have tasted anywhere, and the chocolate tower dessert similarly sensational.

So how do you describe a wonderful culinary experience that was nothing at all as you had previously imagined? While the Fujian certainly has all the Chinese trappings and Chinese ambience, the end result is certainly something quite unique. I am told that the dim sum lunch is more traditional, but the evening menu, with the plated individual orders, has elevated Chinese dining into something that reflects the internationality of not just the resort, but that of haute cuisine these days. Make no mistake, “Fusion” (a much over-used word) is not the correct terminology here. I would describe the Fujian as producing modern, innovative, and imaginative nouvelle cuisine dishes in an elegant Chinese atmosphere. It is a culinary experience that should be tried by anyone who has even the slightest pretensions of being a gourmet, as opposed to being a gourmand.

Not an inexpensive night out, but the best never is. Very highly recommended. I would also suggest that booking one of the three private rooms for a group would result in a sensational evening.

The Fujian Chinese Restaurant, Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi Resort, 51/4 Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road, M1 tambon Tasala, telephone 053 888 888, fax 053 888 999, email [email protected] Open seven days, 11.30 a.m. - 2.30 p.m. for lunch and 6.30 p.m. till 10.30 p.m. for dinner. Very secure parking within resort car park.