Fu Lin Xuan became one of the first Cantonese restaurants to settle in Shanghai, opening its doors on Sinan Road in 1993 as part of a wave of new eateries designed to help workers from Hong Kong feel more at home in the city.
Sixteen years later many of its rival Cantonese restaurants have already closed-up shop, but this seafood specialist chain is thriving.
Now based on the second floor of Hong Kong New World Tower, Fu Lin Xuan is a good place to escape from the crowds that regularly throng Huaihai Road to enjoy a well-deserved hiatus after the trials and tribulations of shopping.
With soft yellow lights illuminating its wood-carved windows and piano music gently warbling in the background, the restaurant is to all intents and appearances a traditional but low-key diner serving up typical Cantonese fare.
Usually the greatest measure of the authenticity of a Cantonese restaurant is how well it cooks its dim sum. This snack is particularly popular with families from Hong Kong and Guangdong, who often head to the restaurant for a get-together on Sunday mornings. Fu Lin Xuan rarely ceases to amaze its patrons with the variety of dim sum it offers and the cleverness of the presentation.
Steamed shrimp dumplings (24 yuan) are a must-try. They are also one of Fu Lin Xuan's signature products, and one that has won the hearts of customers for many years. The white dumpling looks like a thin slice of jade through which the pink hue of the (fresh) shrimps tempts your taste buds.
Deep-fried shrimp mousse rolls (24 yuan) are another star of the dim sum menu. The deep-fried rolls, covered with white sesame, are so crispy you can hear them crack with each bite. One's mouth is then filled with the fragrance of fried sesame mixed with the flavor of fresh shrimps. They tasted so good I
wanted to order another plate.
As its name indicates, Fu Lin Xuan Seafood Restaurant is also one of the best places to eat seasonal seafood from the territory like abalone and shark's fin.
General Manager Sie Ye Ing said that fresh and high-quality ingredients are the key to the restaurant's success.
"We purchase our raw materials at the seafood markets in Hong Kong and fly them to Shanghai," Sie said. "So any seafood that is in season in Hong Kong can be found in our restaurant."
Steamed fish from the sea or lake also comes highly recommended and is complemented by the executive chef's secret soy sauce, something he cooked up during his 40-year career in the Hong Kong restaurant scene.
Diced beef fillet with cashew nuts in black pepper sauce (68 yuan) is another favorite among foreign customers. This light, fresh and tender dish is served with the mouth-watering smell of beef and black pepper and an array of colors - black peppers, yellow cashew nuts, green celery cubes and red beef - to please both the eyes and palate.
(China Daily September 16, 2009)