Review: Asian fusion makes a revival at Fang Fang

Just when you thought the whole “modern Asian fusion” trend had quietly died down, out comes another splashy new opening wholeheartedly embracing the genre. Tucked away on the 8th floor of LKF Tower, Fang Fang — named after a “mysterious Shanghainese opera singer” — is the sleek new eatery that’s replaced Casa Lisboa (the latter has recently relocated just down the street on Wyndham). The venue has been completely re-hauled, given a trendy facelift to match the other high-profile venues in the building (including Lily & Bloom, Cassio and Buenos Aires Polo Club).

Ambience

While there’s not much in the way of originality when it comes to Fang Fang’s decor, the restaurant certainly ticks off all the boxes for ‘contemporary Asian eatery,’ boasting a sleek and comfortable 130-seater in the heart of Central. Fitting in a restaurant, lounge and bar area, the dominant colour motif is black and grey with accents of red and teal blue, with black latticed panels dividing up the space, armchairs and banquettes lining the walls fitted out in grey leather, and details such as mini lion door knockers and a pair of imperial guardian lions flanking the entrance. Backlit walls display Chinese antique vases, while the curved patterns of the walls are reminiscent of dragon scales.

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Speaking of dragons — the bar boasts a ferocious looking scaled creature carved into the marble, winding its way across the length of the bar. Behind the brass-topped counter, a team of expert mixologists shake up Asian-inspired cocktails, led by the acclaimed Gagan Gurung (formerly of Zuma). A scattering of high-top tables with cushioned stools makes the bar area an inviting stopover on the way to dinner, where you can ease into the night with a few cocktails and a selection of bar snacks (try the crispy kale, which is delightfully addictive topped with threads of salty pork floss).

Food & Drink

Drinks are a large part of the experience at Fang Fang, with a carefully curated bar programme by Gagan. The menu is divided into five sections based on the fundamental elements of traditional Chinese philosophy — wood, earth, fire, metal and water. Each section is prefaced with a description of its characteristics: metal, associated with autumn, is expressed by savoury umami flavours; while fire is ruled by the sensations of hot and bitter, and so on.

We start with the Omikuji Girl (HK$120), falling into the fire category with its base of chilli tequila, cardamom and five spice. The drink is served in a porcelain China doll and bears just the right amount of spice — fire that’s tamed by bright yuzu, barley sochu and herbal shiso. The second cocktail we try is similarly well balanced — the Trai Dat (HK$110), this time served in an adorable ceramic panda. The refreshing concoction is grounded by turmeric-infused gin, with pineapple and lemon lending brightness and an ample splash of coconut milk making for a smooth and creamy sip.

The Asian-inspired cocktails are a natural pairing for the multicultural menu by Executive Chef Kent Lee Chin Heng (former Executive Chef of Hakkasan Mumbai and Chinese Sous Chef of London’s acclaimed Michelin-starred modern Chinese eatery, Kai Mayfair). The menu draws from Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian and more, spanning the spectrum from traditional (soft shell crab and Cantonese-style roasted duck) to more unique, out-of-the-box offerings (Mongolian ostrich and Fang Fang-style paneer).

Our first order is the edamame and truffle gyoza (HK$85) — potato tinted green with mashed edamame encased in a thin, pan-fried dumpling wrapper. Far from your typical gyoza, the little potato pockets are surprisingly delicious, with truffle oil adding a bit of savoury umami. The katayfi prawn rolls which arrive next are just as tasty (HK$95), with plump and tender prawn meat spun in a cocoon of thin pastry strands — crisp, yet not overly oily.

The Posh Duck Salad (HK$145) is a refreshing segue to the mains: a melange of juicy pomelo, pine nuts, mixed greens and tender slices of duck breast, tossed together with a lip-smacking plum dressing. It’s a generous portion and could make for an entree on its own, if you’re dodging carbs for the night.

Fang Fang excels in the dishes that mix and match influences across borders, but some of the more straightforward items can dim in comparison. Our Dragon Prawn and Cucumber Roll was fairly nondescript, and the tempura had gone a bit cold and soggy. Nonetheless, the size of the maki roll is a fair deal for HK$125, and the crispy prawn head a nice touch.

More exciting was the Fang Fang-style paneer (HK$125), the Indian cottage cheese appearing like cubes of tofu, glazed over in a savoury doubanjiang bean sauce. The cubes of fresh cheese had a nice crumbly texture and subtle flavour, balanced out by the more assertive spicy and salty bean paste. Cashews added crunch and twirls of chili peppers and crispy lotus root rounded out the flavour-packed dish. It’s a delicious example of chef Kent tossing around the flavours and ingredients of Southeast Asia in combinations you wouldn’t typically expect.

Our final dish was the Forest Honey Grilled Chilean Seabass (HK$275), which was similarly well executed. The shiny soy-brushed crust had cracked and caramelised, flaking apart into sheets of tender, juicy flesh. Topped with more crispy lotus root and bright green stalks of fresh asparagus, the dish had a clear focus and coaxed out maximum flavour from minimal ingredients.

Verdict

Bold flavours and confidence with cross-pollinating cuisines make Fang Fang one to try, led by the expertise of chef Kent. While the experience can get a bit gimmicky at times (think jazz singers who saunter up to your table, lengthy philosophical descriptions on the menu, and the cutesy tableware), the restaurant hits the target where it counts the most: reasonably priced dishes and drinks that deliver on big flavours and presentation. For casual group dinners or a switch up in your weekly date night routine, Fang Fang is a solid new option for a night out on the town.

Opening Hours: Monday-Thursday & Sunday, 6-11pm; Friday-Saturday, 6-11:30pm; Bar & Lounge, 5pm-late
Recommended Dishes: Edamame & truffle gyoza, soft shell crab with curry leaf, katayfi prawn rolls, roasted duck, grilled Chilean seabass, Fang Fang-style paneer, wok fried crab meat fried rice
Price: HK$400-600 per person excluding drinks
Noise Level: Moderate to rowdy
Service: Smooth and professional

Fang Fang is now soft open for dinner reservations from 6pm onwards.

Fang Fang, 8/F, LKF Tower, 33 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2983 9083