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Nov 22, 2013 11:05 AM

Wilson Tang and Jonathan Wu Now Serving 'Creative' Chinese at Fung Tu

Wilson Tang from Nom Wah Tea Parloe teamed up with Jonathan Wu from Per Se. Looks like an A team.

I made a reservation for 2 next Tue. Anyone interested in joining?

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  1. The menu looks challenging, I'm wondering how successful some of those flavor combinations are going to be.

    1. I can't imagine the meat dish, since I am not a regular meat eater ( I am pescetarian). But the seafood dish looks good to me. I am feeling it would be challenging, however, when it comes to wine paring. I am intrigued to see how Jason Wagner, the sommilier handles the pairing.

      2 Replies
      1. re: nomadmanhattan

        I'm not sure about the pairing of fennel, citrus, chili and fermented black bean, I feel like one or two the above flavors would have to be really subtle or they will clash. I also wonder what kind of fish they are using.

        Looks super interesting, and the people involved are solid, cant wait for your report.

        1. re: Pookipichu

          That is one of the dish I am thinking to order too! Surely I will share my experiences with the CH board.

      2. The olive spritz cocktail sounds really interesting

        13 Replies
        1. re: Ttrockwood

          Indeed. Aperol Anise spices up.

          I like the wine list they put together, especially the White section. They have some excellent choice for Asian food, say Nicolaihof “Hefeabzug” Riesling 2012.

          1. re: nomadmanhattan

            I have a weakness for reisling.... It does pair very well with asian flavors. Maybe even that rediculous sounding sesame peanut butter chocolate dessert situation.....!

            1. re: nomadmanhattan

              Significant Eater and I were battling through jet lag over the weekend...I mean, going to sleep at 9 P.M. and waking at 4 A.M. is fairly annoying, no? And our meal times were a bit screwed up as well, but it apparently worked to our advantage Saturday night because I remembered reading that Fung Tu had just opened (ahead of schedule! right around the corner!) a few nights prior. So, after a quick Negroni at home, we bolted out the door and arrived as the 2nd paying customers of the night at tiny little Fung Tu, on the next-to-lowest block of Orchard St.

              Fung Tu bills its food as "creative Chinese-American" (oy) and it's a venture between partners Wilson Tang (of Nom Wah fame - one of our favorite dim sum parlors, btw), Jonathan Wu (Per Se), John Wells (Mas Farmhouse) and Jason Wagner (L'Atelier, plus stuff in Chicago). I think the chefs are Jon and John, because I believe we were being served our wine/cocktails by Jason, but with all these names, I'm a bit confused (remember, jet lag).

              Walking in the door we were greeted by a darling hostess, who took our coats and asked us where we wanted to sit - that's one of the plusses of going out to eat early. Sig Eater and I often like to sit at the bar, but after taking one look at the bar stools, we chose a banquette instead - that's not to say the stools are uncomfortable, because I'm sure they're fine if you're in your twenties and wear a size zero...I'm not and I don't. But the place is adorable (and I gotta say the seating at the table was very comfortable).

              We ordered cocktails to start, which considering we (okay, me) told them exactly how I wanted them, came out great (I imagine I'm pretty annoying to some of these restaurant peeps, but I'm always really nice about it). The menu is divided into - well - you know, snacks, small plates (hot & cold), large plates, sides and sweets, and we started by ordering a couple of "snacks".

              First was "Smoked & Fried Dates Stuffed with Duck," and these were delicioso. Four to an order, perfectly fried and filled with shredded duck, what could be bad? Another fine combo was "Peanuts, Dill, and Chinese Beef Jerky" which actually tastes a lot better than it sounds, and is perfect cocktail food. Of course there are those who will argue about Chinese beef "jerky" - a well-known friend of mine claims it's not really jerky and I sorta believe him - but it's good, and it's sourced locally, so...

              For our first courses, we enjoyed the "Smoked Chicken and Cilantro Salad with Masa Scallion Pancake and Cashews."
              I really liked the use of cilantro in this, as well as the tofu strips - and the chicken was perfectly moist, a big plus in my book. Our other starter was the "Jian Bing Crepe Rolls Stuffed with Braised Beef, Pickled Cucumbers and Watercress." Unexpectedly, as I'm sorta used to soft, gummy crepes in Chinatown (and love them), this was crispy on the outside, easily cut into portions, and the pickled cucumbers add a great jolt of flavor.

              We paired a couple of glasses of wine with our food - I had a Koehler Ruprecht Riesling (I think Rieslings go great with pan-ish, Asian-ish, fusion-ish, Chinese-ish food) and Sig Eater had a fine Close des Trielles "Chenin Méchant," which also went well with our food choices. There are well over a dozen wines by the glass offered, none of which duplicate what's offered by the bottle. There are a couple of sherries, a couple of sakes, and 6 or 7 beers on the nicely put together (OK - curated) list. The by the bottle list is short (I count 22 bottles), and if you're looking for an eminently drinkable $30 a bottle of wine, stop - you won't find one here, as the lowest-priced white is $44...still reasonable, in my opinion.

              For a main course, Sig Eater and I decided to go healthy, and instead of the dumpling knots (she wanted) or the fried pork chops (I wanted) we chose the "Whole Steamed Fish with Fennel, Tangerine Peel, Chili, and Fermented Black Beans (FOR TWO)."

              Another local product, this delicious, super-fresh fish was a sea bream caught off Long Island, and since we're trying to avoid bad fish (hello farmed shrimp & salmon), perfect for us. And perfect it was - partially boned, juicy and moist - we ate it right down to its eyeball sockets. A side of rice and a side of sauteed greens, smothered in umami, completed this course.

              And since we couldn't leave without having dessert, the "Peanut Butter & Chocolate Ganache Sesame Balls" were just right - almost like a Chinese-American Reeses' Cup - they hit the spot of bitter sweetness we were looking for.

              So - what will a meal like this run you? This isn't Nom Wah. And this isn't Chinatown, Jake - it's the lower east side, where the likes of Skal and Fat Radish are right across the street or around the corner. Our bill - which included 3 glasses of wine and 2 cocktails was $155 before tip - not cheap, but really right in the wheelhouse for any place serving food like this. The service was exemplary too. And we'll be back for sure - those fried pork chops are so calling my name.

              Full blog post here...

              1. re: mitchleeny


                Thank you so much for the detail review!! And the price is so reasonable - that is less than what I am prepared to spend per person :)

                Now I can't wait for my dinner there tomorrow night!

                THANK YOU!

                1. re: mitchleeny

                  Thanks for the review, sounds great.

                    1. re: mitchleeny

                      Read this thread after reading NYTimes review today.

                      Regarding comment on Chinese jerky in review, above (thank you for taking the time to write): There are at least three Chinese jerky shops in Chinatown that I know of, including Ling Kee on Ludlow, Ping's Dried Beef, and Malaysia Beef Jerky which has been on Elizabeth Street for years and years. They all do beef as well as other meats.

                      While I'm no expert on Chinese jerky, I've sampled my share here and in China, and I wonder what your "well-known friend" meant by saying that Chinese jerky is not "real" jerky.

                      1. re: erica

                        I believe he meant that that type of jerky is grilled to its jerky-like consistency, as opposed to being salted and air-dried for many hours at low temps.

                        They also tend to be a lot sweeter and smokier than what we're used to as classic American jerky.

                        1. re: mitchleeny

                          Interesting. So you are saying that Chinese and American are similar, but that the jerky at Fung Tu is made differently than both of those. (??)


                          1. re: erica

                            No - I think Chinese and American style jerky are different from - one seems to be grilled and gets charred and smoky, and one doesn't.

                            I don't think Fung Tu, at least from what I remember, was making their jerky in-house. They were "sourcing it" locally. That is, probably on Canal St.

                            And what Pan says.

                          2. re: mitchleeny

                            They're also a lot less dry and tough than American jerky.

                      1. re: scoopG

                        Is it a coincidence that both Sutton and Wells review a restaurant (published within an hour of each other around noon EDT) that is about 1.5 years old, yet most new restaurants they review are within the 3-6 month range? I found it VERY strange.

                        I've noticed with the new restaurants (less than 6 months) that many food critics review within the same week, but that could be memory bias (like when Yankee fans think Derek Jeter is "clutch").

                        1. re: deepfry7

                          Strange indeed. In any event, I'm glad Fung Tu is getting more press, they've been rather empty every time I've gone whereas MCF gets tongue bathed in the press and is always busy. Based on the amount of press and volume of customers, you'd think that MCF is a lot better, but it's not. For the most part, the food at Fung Tu is prepared more precisely, less likely to be overly salty, with ingredients of high quality. Both have their good qualities.

                        2. re: scoopG

                          The kind of good review that makes me want to avoid the place like the plague....