Located in its own edifice in the quaintly pretty shopping village of the 60-acre luxury Dhara Dhevi Spa Resort complex, Fujian restaurant looks like a colorized photograph of an old Shanghai inn or a setting in a classic Chinese film, with its chinoiserie-inspired red and black palette of colors, polished wooden floors, latticed glass doors, heavy Ming dynasty style furniture and 1950s advertisement posters of demurely smiling Chinese beauties.
This fine restaurant serves Cantonese dim sum – a rare treat in Chiang Mai – as well as modern Chinese cuisine combined with traditional ingredients and methods of preparation. There is a daily dim sum buffet featuring old favorites such as shrimp harkow dumplings, baked honey pork pastries, chicken and scallop shumais, silky steamed cheongfun noodles with shrimp, loh mai gai lotus leaf-wrapped glutinous rice, and other bite-sized delights served in traditional bamboo steaming baskets.
Fujian’s Hongkong-trained Chef de Cuisine Natcher Choachong is a Thai of half-Cantonese descent who cooks with deep respect to the ancient philosophy behind Chinese cuisine, that food not only has to taste good, but it must also provide nourishment and bring balance to the body and soul.
This is superbly demonstrated in the soups on the Fujian menu, such as the elegant double-boiled fish maw soup with dried scallops and lingzhi mushrooms, which have been in use as a medicinal food since the Han dynasty era in China, from circa 200 BCE.
The layers of flavor in this consommé are subtle but beautifully complex. The art of harmonizing flavors and the essences of cool and warm, yin and yang in Chinese cuisine is an intricate one, but Chef Natcher has expertly accomplished this.
However, the menu at Fujian is by no means staid; in fact, it is a decidedly exuberant one, showcasing the best of Chinese-inspired cuisine – it also includes large juicy pan-fried Hokkaido scallops served in their shells on a slice of delicate tofu, drizzled with a XO brandy sauce and truffle oil, clay pot rice with garnished with minced chicken and sliced savory-sweet lapcheong sausages, and jumbo deep fried prawns on a bed of crispy fried enoki mushrooms.
Traditionally, Chinese tea is served with the courses of food as an aid to digestion and to counteract any oiliness in the food, and here at Fujian a refreshing lemon-hued Bao Chong oolong tea, sweetly floral, is poured into delicate porcelain cups by attentive, qipao-clad waitresses.
But if you prefer something stronger, try Fujian’s delicious signature cocktails – the Yin-Yang is a delicious blend of vodka, raspberry and mango puree, and the Dragon Eye is refreshing with vodka, raspberry puree, strawberry liqueur, ginger and a splash of Chinese tea over ice.
Within the fine collection of restaurants at the stunning Dhara Dhevi spa, and indeed in the whole of the northern Thailand region, Fujian restaurant certainly stands out like a jewel for the authenticity and sophistication of its Chinese cuisine.
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