When the girl isn't busy trying to be rural, it's usually music or food that brings her out of her shell. Friday was a lucky day, it was both.
On the way to the Emily Kaitz concert at The Focal Point in Maplewood, we stumbled into the first night open of a new pan-Asian-fusion-y place called Fumanchu. I was really in the mood for "dirty Chinese" (you know, storefront fried rice of negligible origins eaten out of a greasy box while sitting someplace not quite legal), but Fumanchu's door was open so....what the hell?
It's all about the small plates, sushi, fushi (rolls made without fish) and bowls. The appetizer list is extensive, the sushi list not so much. We tried the Fumanchu sushi roll; spicy tuna, snow crab, smoked salmon & kiaware garnished with hoisin, & wasabi aioli. The spice of the tuna stood out, as did the unmistakable flavor of smoked salmon. The crab was sadly lost in the mix. Still, it was a standout munchie. As was the fushi wrap of Grilled Ginger Marinated Beef with mango cream cheese & scallions and Korean BBQ sauce. Ginger & beef always sit well together on my palate, and the fruity mellow cream cheese dually complimented those flavors. It was melt in your mouth good. Korean BBQ Pork Ribs from the appetizer list were three in number and meaty if a little dry, but the Peanut-Ginger-Lime Gremolata that they were stacked upon was the perfect Asian slaw, sweet & tangy.
Both of us being dumpling fans, we also ordered the Shumai Dumplings with pork. Opening day jitters brought us instead the Vegetarian Potstickers. That was serendipidous, as they turned out to be the better choice of the two. Not too doughy, they arrived to the table in a steamer, hot, flavorful and moist. The plum sauce was average, more than acceptable. Similarly presented, the Shumai Dumpling had a ginger-spicy pork filling, but was wrapped in a won-ton wrapper that needed more time in the steamer. It was served with Dragon Tail Sauce, which by name you'd have thought would be hot. It was satisfying, but could have been much hotter to our tastes. To make up for the error, they brought us out a complementary serving of Asian Guacamole. A fun twist on guac, using what seemed to be a pre-fab base accented with Asian herbs and spices. The fresh cilantro was welcome and the crispy won-ton chips with black sesame seeds were a nice touch, but not something I'd order again.
The endless appetizer list offered many things we would have liked to try, such as Honey Marinated Lamb Chops, Dynamite Mussels, Spicy Japanese Eggplant, Chicken Yakitori and Kobe Beef Sliders with Tempura Onion Rings. We also would have liked to try the Bowls; noodles or rice topped with beef, chicken, shrimp or tofu and a host of pick your poison ingredients and sauces, but were beginning to run out of time and still wanted to try dessert. We shared both the Ginger Creme Brulee and a Raspberry Mousse Wonton. The wonton was a bit like a sopapilla, and the raspberry mousse was as light as flavored air, not too sweet, plenty to share. The Creme Brulee was also sharing size. Its top was carmeled crisp for the fun of cracking into the creamy custard. It was very rich, even buttery, but did not have the punch of ginger that I'd expected. Still, I'd have it again.
Next time, we're going to get the Fumanchu You. "Let our chefs prepare non-menu items and favorites for you, until you can't take anymore! (Requires entire table participation) $32. per person." Oh yeah, we can eat a lot of Asian small plate stuff. Like Homer Simpson in an all you can eat do0nut shop. Scary.
Fu Man Chu seems to be a new offering from the folks that brought us BARcelona in Clayton. You'll find a full bar, tall tables, normal tables and booths in the old Grateful Grill space. Tin ceiling, old wood plank floors and that wonderful bar is still there. A lovely deck with low Asian table seating is out back and there is a host of well trained, polite wait staff eager to earn their tips. Give them a try, we're glad we did.