Fu He Hui is quiet. Too quiet. The background tinkling of erhu and guzheng music compels whispered conversations and gentle chewing. I wouldn’t advise bringing your DSLR; the shutter would shatter the ambience.
It’s all part of the subtle beauty of the place, of course, but I found it hard to fully relax amid the hardwood and hessian uniforms. There’s a certain piety there that makes you want to straighten your posture and suck your stomach in.
There are normally three different tasting menus, priced incrementally up to 880rmb. The 880 menu normally features the choicest seasonal ingredients, and it included an enticing truffle xiaolongbao, so we chose that one. Alcohol is available, and there’s also a tea pairing (280rmb).
The menu opened with a selection of “small delicacies” – brittle, dainty crackers, deep fried chestnut nuggets, and some fascinating beetroot, berry and chickpea cylinders. The next two courses were equally delicate: a fresh and crunchy bowl of bamboo shoot garnished with ice plant, and a well-balanced mushroom tea.
And then things got heavier – first in size, and then in flavour. When the pumpkin with mashed rice and spices arrived, I was surprised at how simple the flavours were; very little “spice” was discernible. The snow fungus’ meaty heft added more weight to the menu before our favourite run of courses arrived: mui choy, a deliciously satisfying but unphotogenic heap of shaved hazelnuts, braised beancurd and potato emulsion; kou san si, with its pungent dried tofu and teapot of broth; and the maddeningly tiny but delicious smoked porcini with a dreamy white sesame gel.
Even then, there were three more courses: the aforementioned XLB (slightly underwhelming), a charming passionfruit and custard dessert, and a selection of little treats to finish. This included a panna cotta “White Rabbit” candy, of which I’d have loved a whole bag to take home. Please deliver, FHH.
In total, we paid 2248rmb for two people (tasting menus, one bottle of wine, water). Unless you’re a vegetarian millionaire, it’s one to save for special occasions. It’s some of the most interesting, fresh and smart cooking I’ve come across. We were surprised by the mild first few courses, but there’s method in the blandness; by the end, it all made perfect sense.
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