Walking through FUHU is a strange experience. As the majestic doors swing open, you see what can only be described as a traditional Chinese apothecary. It is only when your curiosity leads you to pass this setting and through a secret garden, that you see the space that informs you of what FUHU in Resorts World Genting is: a restaurant and bar.
But far from just providing you with food and drink, this latest collaboration between the Zouk Group and Demon Chef Alvin Leung was designed to be a dining experience that will toy with all of your senses.
THE DEMON HIMSELF
The key concept of FUHU is about challenging perceptions. In some ways, the restaurant uses very traditional Chinese elements in its decor and yet the walls are covered with modern graffiti from celebrated graffiti artist, Kenji Chai (who signs his work Chaigo, and was one of the August Man Malaysia’s 2017 Men of the Year).
The ingredients found on the menu are quite traditional in Chinese cooking and yet the dishes that are born from them are inspired from the west. And all of this stems from Chef Alvin Leung who has built a very successful career from taking centuries-old ingredients and recipes and modernizing them with the latest techniques and flavours.
In his own words, the reason he gave himself the nickname Demon Chef is that “Demon is what people see when they look at me. But I think being a demon is not about being sinister. In Chinese mythology, demons mostly took the form of animals and were often just mischievous spirits. They like to play and have fun and they like to fool people. This is exactly what I do with my cooking.”
So when Chef Leung was tasked with creating a restaurant beside Zouk Genting, he said: “It’s right next to a club, you have to make it fun!”
FUN IS A STATE OF MIND
Translated from Mandarin, FUHU means ‘lucky tiger’ and is quite an apt name considering it sits within walking distance from Malaysia’s only casino. As we previously mentioned, the restaurant and bar give a first impression of being a traditional Chinese apothecary but as guests venture forth, it opens up into a massive 8,000sqft space that is a whimsical blend of old Chinese style and sleek modern chic.
The first thing that draws the eye is a life-sized Sakura tree in the main dining area that is surrounded by the bar. Some of the walls feature a stone brick facade, not unlike those you would find in the Chinese palaces of old, or the Great Wall of China and yet there are modern graffiti paintings on them depicting the folklore of Lady Meng and even the namesake lucky tiger.
To further draw their visitors into this surreal world, FUHU uses rosewood chairs with Ming-dynasty blue and white porcelain motifs on them, juxtaposed against leatherette banquettes which harken to the supper club of the eighties. And all of it is bathed in a purple glow while large, clear floor to ceiling windows provide an insight into the inner workings of the kitchen.
NOSTALGIA AND NOVELTY
For most of the guests, dinner starts with a cocktail and chief mixologist Saam Pranill has brought with him 20 years of experience in creating cocktails at top bars across Asia, to ensure that your first taste of FUHU is an unexpected concoction of nostalgia and novelty.
Built upon the concept of the Chinese apothecary, the selection across the cocktail menu all come with some of this element built-in. For example, their signature cocktail, Drunken Tiger, is made using gin, Campari, Martini Rosso, and get this, Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.
And to top it all off, the cocktail is presented in an actual dried gourd. These gourds were traditionally used to hold water, wine, medicines and magic potions, and in the famous ‘Journey to the West’ folklore, there’s even a magic one that could be used to capture the Monkey King.
Then there is the Tiffined Gin Tonic which is served in a tiffin carrier, something that Pranill says, was used by traditional Chinese doctors to carry herbs when visiting a patient. And because drinks are always better when they are shared with the right company, most of FUHU’s cocktails are created with a communal spirit in mind.
For the Tiffined Gin Tonic, each level of the tiffin carrier is a serving for one person. After tasting that first cocktail, and because there are so many interesting choices on the menu, we guarantee the drinks will continue flowing well into the night as an accompaniment to your meal.
“FUHU is about fun; a spin-off of what the Zouk brand stands for. Dining at FUHU is the beginning of a great night out – with dishes that are modern, yet homely and comfortable, distinctly Asian, but with a touch of western flair,” says Chef Alvin Leung. Thus, the menu will seem both familiar and unfamiliar to locals while looking entirely exciting to a foreign visitor.
Chef Leung’s heritage of being born in London, England and living in Toronto, Canada is starkly reflected in FUHU’s menu. “I wanted to present Chinese food favourites that I had around the world. We want to present things that I found very tasty and we want the people here to enjoy it as well,” Leung explains.
Thus the Aromatic Crispy Duck with Man Tao, Mango, Beet Root and Leek was inspired by the one found in London, and even our local favourite ‘Sang Har Yee Mein’ (freshwater prawn yee mee) has been tweaked to use the Boston lobster.
There are also a number of dishes that would look at home in an American Chinese food establishment like The Generals Fried Chicken which is a boneless chicken deep fried and served with, spring onion, sesame and a FUHU sauce, and the Chop Suey Lo Hei which is pineapple, sweet turnip, green mango, beetroot, bok choy, onion, and pine nuts made into a salad and tossed with Lo Hei sauce.
COME FOR THE FOOD, STAY FOR THE SHENANIGANS
At the end of the day, if you are just looking for something to eat, restaurants are a dime a dozen in Resorts World Genting. But what the newly opened FUHU can offer, however, is not simply a place to grab a bite to eat before a big night out; rather, it promises a surreal and slightly unhinged dining experience that may even include live performances (street magic performers we were told) during your meal.
Through the combination of its stunning decor, interesting food choice and a unique selection of cocktails, dining at FUHU may just be the catalyst that turns your night from just a ‘night out’ into a grand adventure.
The article was first published in the August Man Malaysia October 2019 print edition