New Hong Kong restaurants: Madame Fu – delicious dishes to match the lavish surroundings in Tai Kwun, Central
Designed to evoke the grand Shanghai-meets-Paris cafes of the 1920s and ’30s, the colourful interior did not outshine the cuisine, with the crispy pork belly fantastic and lamb rack with minced pork and chilli sauce mouth-watering
As my guests and I were led past the main dining area of Madame Fu at Tai Kwun in Central, and ushered into a frilly Pepto Bismol pink room, we strongly suspected that this was where they put all female groups.
There were several ladies celebrating one of their birthdays, and later on, another all-female group arrived. The plush, velvet-covered curved banquettes were comfortable, and wouldn’t look out of place in the film Marie Antoinette, with ladies in elaborate costumes eating macaroons.
Unfortunately for me and my guests, pink isn’t our colour, although the first group of diners seemed to be enthralled by the room and could not stop taking selfies.
Fortunately, we had the food to distract us.
As with Mrs Pound in Sheung Wan and Fang Fang in Lan Kwai Fong, Madame Fu has a made-up back story. It’s too long to repeat here, but the atmosphere of the place is supposed to evoke the grand Shanghai-meets-Paris cafes of the 1920s and ’30s.
We chose three appetisers, two mains, one vegetable and one starch, which was enough food for the three of us. We disliked only one dish, although we thought many of the dishes could have been served hotter – most of it was just tepid.
Tiger skin green peppers with spicy dressing (HK$80) were very nice, with a firm bite and a light smokiness. A couple of them had quite a bit of heat, the others were mild.
Crispy pork belly (HK$120) was just fantastic, with delicate, crisp skin, a sufficient amount of fat and tender meat. The so-called home-made mustard served with it tasted like the powdered Colman’s mixed with water.
Jellyfish salad with vintage vinegar, served with (so the menu said) sesame oil, coriander and red chilli (HK$95) was the only dish of the evening we disliked. The jellyfish was too soft, there was no coriander in sight, only a few bits of very mild chilli, and it was far too acidic from the vinegar.
Steamed garoupa fillets with glass noodles and fresh chilli (HK$380) was delicious. The fish was perfectly cooked, and the glass noodles underneath absorbed the sauce, which had a touch of chilli heat, and the distinctive flavour of Sichuan peppercorn.
Even better was the lamb rack with minced pork and chilli sauce (HK$370). The bone-in lamb looked overcooked but was moist and tender, and the pork and chilli sauce was intense. The richness of the meat went well with bittersweet flavours of wok-fried Chinese kale with ginger sauce (HK$90).
Wok-fried rice noodles with sliced Angus beef (HK$158) was a good version of this classic dish, with tender meat and just enough sauce coating the noodles so they weren’t gloopy.
For dessert, osmathus tea jelly (HK$45), which came in the shape of a carp, was not too rubbery. A sphere of matcha mousse embedded with a square of yuzu jelly (HK$75) was pretty and light.
Madame Fu – Grand Cafe Chinois, 3/F Barrack Block, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, tel: 2114 2118. About HK$470 per person without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area: