Banquet at Fuloon
I organized a beautiful banquet for twenty people last week in the private room at Fuloon in Malden.
I arranged the following menu in advance with the hostess and chef:
Cold Bean Curd (liang2 ban4 dou4 fu3)
Bang Bang Chicken (bang4 bang4 ji1 si1)
Cold Jelly Fish (xiang1 ma2 hai3 zhe2)
Spiced Shredded Tripe (ma2 la4 du4 si1)
Scallion Pancakes (cong1 you2 bing3)
Leek Pie (jiu3 cai4 he2 zi3) (off menu request)
Wonton with Special Hot Sauce (hong2 you2 chao1 shou3)
Steam Meat Ball (xie4 fen3 shi1 zi3 tou2)
Special Crabs & Garlic & Red Pepper (suan4 song1 xiang1 la4 xie4)
Hot Diced Chicken Szechuan Style (ge1 le4 shan1 la4 zi3 ji1)
Special Fish with Baked Garlic Sauce (si4 chuan1 ci2 ba1 yu2) (special order)
Wok-Baked Beef (guo1 kao3 niu2 rou4)
Special Whole Duck with Scallion, Home Style (jing1 cong1 pa2 da4 ya1) (special order)
Dual Deli Jumbo Shrimp (liang3 chi1 da4 xia1) (special order)
Diced Chicken with Dates & Chestnuts (zao3 sheng1 li4 zi3 ji1)
Mandarin Cabbage with Chili Pepper (duo4 jiao1 bai2 cai4)
Bean Curd with Special Sauce (si4 chuan1 dou4 hua1)
Kan Shue String Beans (gan1 bian1 si4 ji4 dou4)
Snow Peas with Bamboo Shoots & Black Mushrooms (xue3 dou4 shuang1 dong1)
Vegetarian’s Delight (su4 shi2 jin3)
Pea Flour Cake (wan1 dou4 huang2) (off-menu request)
Sweet Sticky Rice with Red Bean (mi4 zhi1 ba1 bao3 fan4)
I know it's a little short on soup for a traditional Chinese banquet, but I'm not a big fan of soups and I was organizing the banquet!
I didn't get to try absolutely everything, but my guests, who ranged from American suburbanites, to fresh-off-the-boat Chinese aesthetes, were universally wowed.
Cold bean curd is bright and refreshing; bang bang chicken is expertly cut and the red oil in which the chicken shreds are swimming (but not drowning) is sharp and intense; scallion pancakes were made with love & care; leek pies were baked perfectly; steamed pork and crab meatballs had a delicious broth; hot diced chicken were perfectly crispy and intensely flavored on a bed of Sichuan peppers; special baked fish with garlic sauce is delightful --- a flaky flavourful baked fish with a topping of diced peppers very similar to the "mandarin cabbage with chili pepper" dish, but taking on a layer of subtlety; wok-baked beef was wonderful as always with a melt-in-your-mouth texture, a caramelizing sauce that's sweet but not at all cloying and a layer of flavors and made this perhaps the favourite dish at the banquet; the special whole duck with scallion was braised until unbelievably tender and had a delicious sauce and crunchy skin --- I think I prefer the standard "jiang pao duck" that is a normal on-menu item, but I was very happy to try this special variant, which is different than Beijing duck as well. The "dual deli" shrimp was an enormous platter of impossibly large jumbo shrimp making a ring around a small mountain of shrimp meat and dried lily flowers. The lily flowers were delicious on their own, in a light sauce that was sweet without being at all cloying. The Special Crabs & Garlic & Red Pepper were hard-shell crabs, and even with the supplier "claw cracker" some people had difficulty eating them. The mandarin cabbage with chili pepper and the kan shue string beans are two of the very best versions of these dishes I've had anywhere. Even something as simple a steamed mixed vegetables with no sauce is prepared with care, so the vegetables are neither over- nor under-steamed.
As you can see from the photos, the dishes were presented beautifully. The private room was just the right size for two round tables of ten people each. Service was excellent, with frequent changes of plates and replenishments of tea. I was happy that on a Friday night the main dining room seemed fairly busy.
This is an excellent place for a high-quality, serious, Chinese banquet!
Sure. Without any drinks other than tea and water, it was exactly $30/person, including gratuity. More seafood would have pushed this higher, while removing a few dishes such as the shrimp, crabs and duck, and replacing them with others, could have easily pulled the cost lower while still have a sumptuous meal.
They were definitely Shanghai-style lion's head meatballs, but I must confess that I didn't try them --- I just had a little of the broth in which they were served. My friend from Ningbo (very close geographically to Shanghai) didn't like them very much, but also doesn't like them at Shanghai Gate. She says that the crab meat was tastier in the Fuloon version though.
Very unfair indeed. :)
I love the way they made the scallion pancakes and the leek pies --- light, airy, cripsy and flavourful. Scallion pancakes are also my most favourite dish, so I might be biased.
As for the "normal" dishes --- I love the wok-baked beef and the sichuan style chicken. Both were really outstanding that night.
For just vegetables, I love the mandarin cabbage with chili pepper and the "kan shue" string beans.
As for the special dishes . . . if I had to choose only one (and all three were outstanding), I'd choose the baked fish. Really interesting set of flavours and textures. I suspect there were others at the table who would have chosen the shrimp or the duck.
Hard to go wrong!