Saturday, 10 March 2012

New Fook Lam Moon

New Fook Lam Moon is a longstanding Cantonese restaurant in London’s Chinatown and to the Chinese the name conjures up and preserves a degree of assurance; ‘fortune arriveth at the door’. The restaurant’s strong reputation, as acknowledged by its large and loyal following of Chinese customers, is based purely on the consistently good roast meats it excels in. Unfortunately a majority of the above only come in to takeaway their favourite siu mei as opposed to dining in to avoid the dull and formulaic Cantonese dishes that only the gweilos would embrace wholeheartedly.

Thankfully the owners possessed enough foresight and invested in the talented abilities of the Malaysian Chinese kitchen staff to include a chef’s special section of predominantly but enticing Malaysian dishes like Mamite Prawns and Asam Curry. This post reflects the specials’ menu.

Few pointers-

This is a smallish restaurant and it's ideal for solo diners.
Service is pleasant for Chinatown and never condescending.
Like Wong Kei, tea should be gratis and that’s regardless of one's race, creed or colour.
Service charge at 10% duly noted.
Slices of oranges served free at end of meal.
The final bill is always itemised, clear, precise and never dodgy.

What I’ve eaten here-

Takeaway of excellent roast duck and luminescent but moreish cuttlefish on rice. £6.50

NB the roast pork here is absolutely outstanding and they’re unusually chopped up finely instead of the usual unwieldy chunks found elsewhere.

Singapore Laksa at £7.50

One can specify yellow egg noodles or rice vermicelli or both. The laksa here was ok but it lacked the usual richness (coconut milk gone awol) and the frightful looking pieces of overdone aubergine didn’t bode well. The best laksa in London still resides here.

Hainanese Chicken Rice at £6.50

This dish is off-menu. The sight of the slightly pink flesh and near-red marrow spells all kinds of mad panic but at least it was faithful to what the original Hainanese recipe of South East Asia intended. And before you scream ‘yikes!’ I’ve never experienced any food poisoning from eating Hainanese Chicken Rice anywhere in the world. Anyway the chicken was ‘slippery’, juicy and moist but if I were to be pernickety then an older hen would be more flavoursome than the juvenile battery bird found above.
Hainanese Chicken Rice comprises of four components- the said chicken, the rice, the broth and the chilli dipping sauce. Disappointingly the dish at New Fook Lam Moon came soupless and the chilli sauce was lame (devoid of ginger and garlic to give a kick and zing). However the generous portion of rice was wondrous for it was sticky, oily rich and relentlessly chickeny; the golden hue comes from the addition of chicken fat. For the all-defining chicken rice experience you’ll need to go to Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand but the one at New Fook Lam Moon is pretty commendable for London’s standards.

Nyonya-style Fried Noodles with Prawns at £7.00

It baffled me as to why the restaurant chose to call it so as it was basically Char Kway Teow spiced up with loads of belacan.
In fact there’s even Goulash on their menu and that should read classic Cantonese braised beef brisket instead (without any paprika whatsoever but soy sauce, star anise, etc.). These guys don’t do themselves any favours!
That said the above dish is potentially one on the most authentic Char Kway Teows I’ve come across in London -smoky, lardy, and unlike an overrated example like here, it was deliciously fulfilling. Furthermore, the inclusion of six juicy king prawns was enough to make the above excellent value for money.

Bak Kut Teh served with slices of fried dough sticks and a large bowl of rice at £8.50

This classic ‘meat bone tea’ soup-dish is vehemently revered by my tribe, the Hokkiens. I’m not going to dwell on it but you can read about it here. In brief Bak Kut Teh is an acquired taste that’s brings together the porky nirvana and the alarming decoction of a traditional Chinese herbal prescription in one pot. The version here was ok; a tad too sweet and so obviously made with the aid of a ready-mix herb and spice packet that can be purchased in Chinese supermarkets.

Petai Beans and Minced Pork in Sambal Sauce at £11.50

Has Anthony Bourdain tried petai beans, no I don’t tink so! In all, this pungent and spicy dish was an accomplished one- the beans were buttery, bitterish and nutty; the pork whilst not maddeningly spicy was quite luscious. You’ll need loads of rice to soak up the excellent sambal sauce. Loved it.

A note about the little known Petai Bean-

Its permeating properties make the aftermath of eating asparagus positively fragrant, the petai beans are responsible for the mother of all offensively malodorous consequences when burping, urinating, farting and pursuing number twos. Or in other words it’s a sure-fire way to be excluded from society… permanently! Best of luck pals!

Deep-fried King Prawns with Butter and Egg Threads at £13.50

Best known as plain Butter Prawns. This is one of the best dishes introduced by the Malaysian Chinese and it was only conceived during the latter part of the last century. Whole prawns fried with a coating of butter and egg yolk and topped with eggy shreds, desiccated coconut and aromatic curry leaves. If you want it spicier then the bird's eye chilli on the side is there for the taking. It was a dependably exact dish that can be described as a ‘home from home’ effort. If 10 Greek Street charges £15 for 6 simply-grilled prawns (same size and I daresay provenance) and José’s three were 8 quid then New Fook Lam Moon’s eight specimens are a massive bargain! It simply involved more work, creativity, prep, ingredients, etc…I digress.

New Fook Lam Moon is joint that might not rewrite history but it’s still deservedly a little gem. Recommended.

10 Gerrard Street
London W1D 5PW



Kay @ Chopstix2Steaknives said...

you got me at Marmite prawns....can't believe that there is actually a restaurant in London that makes it. I am so making my way there.

bellaphon said...

Kay- fingers crossed!

Su-Lin said...

I don't think I've ever given New Fook Lam Moon a second glance. Thanks for reviewing it - now I've gotta try it!

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