FANHUA Allows Northeastern Chinese Cuisine to Bloom in the South

Fengtian Restaurant, a Northeastern cuisine restaurant that originated in Shenyang has now made its first foray across a distance of nearly 3000 kilometers to Shenzhen, introducing an even more exquisite dining experience with the unveiling of FANHUA.

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China’s Northeast region boasts the country’s best abalone, sea cucumbers and sea urchins, mostly harvested from the cold, clean waters off the northeastern coast. However, for a long time, the notion of Northeastern Chinese cuisine was largely associated with a hearty medley of meats and vegetables cooked in a giant iron wok. The situation has changed since Fengtian Restaurant opened in Shenyang and redefined Northeastern cuisine. A little over a year ago, Fengtian Restaurant launched its new outlet FANHUA in Shenzhen, proving that Northeastern cuisine has the power to warm the hearts of diners even in the southern heat.

Xiao Kuan describes FANHUA’s style as an example of “anti-Northeastern cuisine”. The theme of our dinner was Land & Sea: Endless Treasure, through which the delicacies of the Northeast shined through in each dish. Wine pairing was designed by Ms He Lingzi to avoid information overload and aesthetic fatigue. The alternation of meat and seafood in the menu was a challenge to traditional wine pairing. With dishes lying at the heart of everything, the wines were carefully selected to fit the theme while honouring the local terroir. The wines were mainly from Italy and France, with a sweet wine from Northeastern China as the finale.

The first course is Dalian sea urchin paired with six-year aged Italian Balsamic white vinegar jelly. The acidity of the vinegar allows for better support of the original flavour of the ingredients. Next is Tiger Salad with Liaoning Sea Cucumber, a popular salad from Northern China which sees a combination of refreshing vegetables and firm, chewy sea cucumber, elevated by a slightly spiced seasoning that perfectly whets up your appetite.

Dalian sea urchin paired with six-year aged Italian Balsamic white vinegar jelly

The nextis thin slices of Dalian abalone wrapped in Lapi (mung clear noodles), accompanied by sweet sesame chilli sauce that tones down the spiciness of the previous salad. China’s northeasterners like the pigeons barbecued as a juicy game bird, grilled over walnut wood, with a strong smoky flavour that’s typical of a Northeastern roast. The pigeon meat is low in fat, very dense and close-grained, a texture which may not be what southerners are accustomed to, but definitely gets addictive as you chew on.

Smoked Jinzhou roast pigeon

A classic Northeastern dish, Crispy Fried Sweet and Sour Pork, uses Jilin black mountain pig, deep-fried to crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, coated with a sweet and sour sauce made from Raohe black bee linden honey, which exudes a rich, tallowy aroma along with the sweet, tangy sauce. A floral orange wine (La stoppa, Ageno Bianco, Emilia IGT, Italia 2018) is selected to lift the richness of the pork with its catchy palate and refreshing citrusy nose. A clever pairing arranged by Lingzi.

Dalian’s specialty sand worm, with its soft and chewy flesh, is poured over with boiling rice soup to preserve its fresh and crunchy texture, complemented by refreshing sea vegetables. FANHUA’s lactic acid fermented cabbage is made under strict control of the pH value, combined with the rich fish maw broth to bring out the best of each other. The star of this dish is no doubt pickled cabbage instead of the fish maw.

Dalian’s specialtysand worm

Next up is a scrumptious and flavourful combination of tender and juicy Hulunbuir free-range beef steak, earthy porcini mushrooms and gelatinous sika deer tendon from the Changbai Mountains.

Middle section of the wild beltfish is chargrilled to best retain its juicy flesh and umami flavour, highlighted by the addition of an attractive charred aroma. This is followed by a rice dish made with fragrant Northeast Wuchang rice and mixed with honey mushrooms, a specialty of Daxinganling Mountains. For dessert, there is the signature Red Bean in Egg White inherited from Fengtian Restaurant, coupled with simmered hawthorn which is delightfully sweet and sour. It is complemented by Cailonglin Jinding Ice Wine 2016, a sweet wine produced in Huanren County, Liaoning Province, echoing the local produce of Northeast China.

Northeast Wuchang rice mixed with honey mushrooms

Adapting to the local conditions has been a significant challenge for a newly opened restaurant, not to mention introducing dishes from the Northeast to a southernmost city with entirely different produce and dietary habits.

The owner, Lena Wang, mentions that when the restaurant made the decision to open a new branch in Shenzhen, the team responded with full support and demonstrated their strong sense of purpose. In the end, we were served Northeastern home-style dishes – Pickled Chinese Cabbage with Pork and Blood Sausage, and Long Beans & Steamed Bread. The winter in Shenzhen is not cold, but traditional dishes like these can surely melt even the crudest heart. That night was filled with delicious moments and festive reunions, ending in a warm and cozy ambiance.

Lena Wang (the owner of FANHUA) and the Author

Author: Jocelyn 华姐

Photo: Ye Shi

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Jocelyn Chen
Jocelyn Chen
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