Tony Lu’s restaurants are some of the most exciting in Shanghai. Very different from the classical Shanghainese restaurants such as Ah Shan or Lao Jishi, his various Fu restaurants offer more haute renditions of local classics. The flagship of the group is Fu1015.
What most of the restaurants run by Tony Lu have in common is the setting: located along the same street, they are all housed in beautiful, early 20th century buildings. Another common thread are private dining rooms, decorated with period furniture. This is not just to create a visual impact, but also has the purpose of letting diners eat in the manner in which rich Shanghainese families might have done 100 years ago.
At Fu1015 this is certainly the case. In chef Lu’s own words, the use of space is extremely “wasteful”, given that there are no more than a couple of handful private rooms in this imposing villa. Whilst the idea of eating in a private dining room might be odd for some Western travellers, this form of eating is the norm here, and thus not unusual.
When it comes to the food, Lu’s cuisine is very much based on the classic dishes that are emblematic of Shanghainese, and Jiangnan cuisine. A meal here might begin with delicate beancurd rolls, stuffed with minced pork, and served in a chicken broth. What sounds very simple, ends up being a beautifully judged, and balanced plate of food. The richness of the pork, encased in the slightly chewy beancurd, and served in a rich chicken broth.
A pigeon soup evidences the sense of being able to ally balance, and intensity of flavour. The clear soup is remarkably flavourful. The complexity, and texture, make you think of a great white Hermitage, and the gentle spices give a warm backdrop that lifts the flavours even more. There is nothing gamey about this, and yet the flavours are very distinct. This soup alone is worth a visit to the restaurant, showing to what extent Chinese cooking can be sophisticated.
Where Lu shows his cuisine’s brilliance is with a fish dish that serves a local variety of fish, full of bones, in sauce made with wine, and topped with crushed ginger, and a small sort of date. The savoury sauce that is given an oxidative touch from the wine contrasts beautifully with the fresh, zippy ginger, and sweetness of the date, whilst the fish’s perfectly timed meat brings these components together. The seasoning, and flavour combination in this seems just as effortless, and brilliant as in the previous ones, and shows that Lu is a master when it comes to showcasing the elegance of Shanghainese cuisine.
Fu1015 is one of Shanghai’s very best restaurants. The cooking is masterful, effortless, and highly interesting. Anyone visiting ought to come here, and contrast it with a traditional Shanghainese restaurant, to get a sense for the scope of this cuisine.