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Hong Kong restaurant reviews

Restaurant review: Fang Fang in Central – a few highlights, but disappointing overall

If we’d ordered the roasted duck it could have been different, instead, despite the tasty, savoury soft shell crab with curry leaf and smooth, ginger crème brûlée dessert – the menu lacked focus and was sloppily plated

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 November, 2017, 3:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 November, 2017, 7:20pm

As the Fang Fang roasted duck was being carried by a server to another table, we realised we’d ordered the wrong thing.

The duck (HK$595, or HK$1,288 if you want 30 grams of caviar with it; although the menu neglected to say what kind of caviar it was) looked enticing – unlike much of what we’d ordered.

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Our waitress, who was friendly but hovered around us too much – did recommend the duck, but we thought a whole bird was too much for our small group of three. So we ordered other dishes, and had more misses than hits.

The backstory behind Fang Fang is that it’s about a fictional character – a Shanghai opera singer who, according to the menu, “wanted to travel around Asia to experience all the cultures and cuisines she’d only heard whispers about”. But the menu lacked focus: there were dishes inspired by Thailand, India, Japan, Mongolia and China, and the prices were high for what they were.

Softshell crab with curry leaf (HK$165) was easily the best savoury dish of the night, but even that had its faults. The softshell crab had a crisp, light coating, but the toppings – sliced almonds, fried garlic and curry leaves – were what lifted it out of the ordinary.

The thin fried cracker served underneath the crab – and which the waitress told us twice we should eat – couldn’t actually be eaten because it was so soggy. It bent, rather than snapped.

Duck tacos (HK$185) weren’t actually duck tacos. The minced meat and vegetables were like the filling used for san choi bao (minced pork in lettuce leaves), only with crisp fried rice crackers replacing the lettuce. It was OK, although for that price, you’d expect something more. Olive leaf sauce stir-fried French beans (HK$115) were nicely shrivelled and well flavoured.

The next four dishes were disappointing. Okra on ice with yuzu wasabi dressing (HK$105) was just that: about a dozen pieces of okra on crushed ice. What was the point of that? The dressing tasted just like the soy sauce and wasabi paste slurry that you get at inexpensive sushi restaurants.

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Mongolian ostrich (HK$320) was the most sloppily plated dish we’ve been served in ages – even the food you get at a dai pai dong looks nicer than this. It probably tastes better too, not to mention that it’s a lot cheaper. The meat was tough and the so-called Mongolian sauce (whatever that is) was average. We left most of the dish uneaten.

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Jasmine tea-smoked ribs (HK$250) were tender but the smokiness – and any other flavour – hadn’t penetrated the meat. Char kway teow (HK$115) was too wet and didn’t taste at all of wok hei – the smoky, deep flavour the rice noodles should have from being cooked in a blazing hot wok.

The meal was redeemed slightly with dessert. Ginger crème brûlée (HK$115) wasn’t at all inventive but the custard was smooth and the topping was crisp. Matcha fondant (HK$125) had a nice, oozing centre but the green tea ice cream served with it was icy.

Fang Fang, 8/F LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Lan Kwai Fong, tel: 2983 9083. About HK$500 without drinks or the service charge.

While you’re in the area:

Restaurant review: Dacha, Central – Eastern European food that will have you coming back for more

Restaurant review: Koko, Central – winning Japanese cuisine and a lively ambience