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Roti chanai, dim sums and an “anti-cafe ”

Fu In Chinese, it means “good luck” and indeed Fu marks a great turning point in the business of restaurants in Delhi—at least, when it comes to Chinese food. Unlike the “family-style”, Indian-Chinese places of yore, this is an anti café with nothing stereotypical about it. So abandon all old-fashioned expectations of how a Chinese restaurant in India should look, feel and smell and instead enter this rather tiny place in Greater Kailash I (M Block market) with a fresh perspective.

Fu claims to offer “better than Chinese”. And indeed, as you enter this space, it immediately becomes apparent to you that nothing here will go the red-lanterns-dirge like music-manchurian way. Minimalistically done (with splashes of green) with a couple of Chinese silk screens and sundries, Fu offers two styles of seating. One is a basic restaurant sit-down while the other a loungy space with low tables and comfortable couches. It’s a café that invites you to chill out and be yourself without having to dress up for dinner in Delhi style.

All successful restaurants the world over are driven by real people and it is these personalities that give a firm character to the restaurants. Alas, in India, the modern restaurant boom in the metros sees a host of colourless, assembly-line, though expensively furnished spaces mushrooming. Fortunately, Fu does not go that way. Instead, it is very possible to see it as an extension of the affable casual personas of its young owners—Kula Naidu (who runs the Malaysian takeaway in the NCR, Kayalan) and Gaurav Rekhi (an investment banker turned restaurateur who has moved back from London to set up home in Delhi). These two young men say that they have deliberately cast their café in the mould of an “anti-restaurant”— low key, where food can do the real talking.

And it does. We begin with a couple of mocktails and these are interesting because unlike the generic stuff that you get everywhere else, the compact beverage menu caters to Asian sensibilities . Try the Thai iced tea here, which is milky (with condensed milk) and rather like our own chai or the totally first-rate wasabi-spiked Virgin Mary that I settled for. Interestingly, here is a café that does not serve coffee at all! Since this is an Asian place, the focus is on teas and that’s really the best thing to enjoy at Fu, whether it be lemongrass tea, Teh Tarik or indeed the all-time soother, Jasmine tea.

Though Fu has positioned itself as a Chinese place possibly to cater to a larger market — Chinese being one of the biggest money spinners apat from Punjabi/Indian in the restaurant biz in India– it has some delicious street eats from Malaysia, Thailand and so on. Don’t get expecting sweet corn soup or even Peking duck rolls. The highlight at Fu is the huge dim sum menu that dominates all their servings. A total of 22 starters are on the menu; all dim sums—which literally translate as “little bites of the heart” and include not just dumplings that most Indians associate them with but any other snack, fried, baked and steamed. Apart from the classic and inspired dumplings, the notables on this menu include murtabak, a popular Malaysian street snack of curried mutton egg wrapped in roti chanai. There are also the popular Malay curry puffs— Kari Ayam (with chicken and potaoes) puff and so on. There are also spicy turnip puffs which I would recommend despite the fact that not all of us may be comfortable with the thought of paying to eat turnips!

These apart, there are all-time, Morimoto-style crunchy prawns in a creamy Mayo sauce. I am looking forward to the time when Fu will introduce a dim sum brunch which should spectacularly well here given the wide variety available. I would suggest doing what we did—pretty much eating everything on the starters menu (albeit when you are in a big group) since the portions are not too large and then ordering limited mains. Pen Chang chicken is recommended, curries like Grandma’s traditional mutton from Chengdu region in northern China as also a Nonya vegetable curry with roti chanai. The menu is tight and is not overtly long or confusing.  Do try it out.

What: Fu

Where: GK I, M Block Market

USP: Dim sums, Malaysian street eats, Asian teas

Food rating: 4 out of 5

Ambience: 4 out of 5

Value for money: 3.5 out of 5

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