BANGKOK — Feng Zhu – or prosperous pork in Mandarin Chinese – celebrates its first anniversary earlier this month as a unique fusion gyoza eatery.
Feng Zhu owner Jurairat Prompayakul said she wanted a place to remind casual diners of a dumpling place that could perhaps have been set up by a first generation Chinese migrant to Thailand back in the olden days.
Despite the historical tribute, the décor and the food are not that of a typical Chinese street food stall. Occupying a small strip next to The Sheraton Riverside Hotel near Siphraya Pier, the place seems like a slice of China with Chinese-language newspapers used as wall papers and the whole ambience.
Food wise, they serve only five varieties of fusion Chinese gyoza where you can add one of the four different top’s pins. And that’s all.
“In a way, it’s not Chinese,” Jurairat, 29, a former hotel marketing staff, said. I tasted them and insisted otherwise, however.
Think of the spicy and numbing Mala gyoza with mozzarella cheese topping, which is my favourite. The mala taste is still very Chinese, although with a very welcoming twist.
“The cheese balanced the strong taste of mala,” Jurairat explained. She was right.
The cook who came up with all these unique dishes is none other than Jurairat’s boyfriend. Don’t ask me for his name because it’s a closely guarded secret, since he still works as a chef for a Thai restaurant at one of the major hotels in Bangkok.
Wrapping of dumplings is done by Jurairat and half a dozen other staff on site, however.
And while she said the biggest chunk of her customers are young impressionable Thais who want to try something different and take photos for their latest IG updates, the mala X mozzarella cheese dumpling is popular among some western foodies.
Another worth mentioning and trying is Gaeng Hanglay gyoza, or Northern Thai red-curry dumpling. You have to try to be convinced that it’s authentic Thai taste, and that’s because the mysterious chef’s speciality is actually fusion Thai cuisine.
“There’s one American family based here that would come and order 20 pieces at a time,” Jurairat said.
Dumplings without toppings cost 12 baht, except five-mushrooms gyoza which costs 15.
Topping, which ranges from sliced Japanese spring onions (3 baht), ebiko (4 baht), salted egg yolk (5 baht) and mozzarella cheese (4 baht). The most expensive single piece of gyoza here would cost 20 baht. Not cheap but fair, considering what you get.
For those not into spice, the pleasantly delicate plain gyoza (12 baht without topping) is enjoyable and goes well with tiny ebiko egg roe toppings.
Pork here is shredded and grinded in house and selected from quality second-cut pork, said Jurairat.
“Our dipping sauce is also our special secret recipe, a blend of Japanese soy sauce, Chinese soy sauce and sesame oil,” she said, adding that the gyoza wrap, which is thin and chewy, is ordered from a supplier under her boyfriend’s specification.
Besides the fact that there are only 7 small round tables, one bar and 20 stools with no air-conditioning, which is not necessarily a drawback, my disappointment is the lack of tea being served.
One has a choice of Thai root beer, a different canned Chinese herbal drink. I wish Feng Zhu would serve a decent hot and cold tea, preferably Poo Erh. Her answer as to why they do not was brutally frank though.
“It’s a business decision. The profit margin for tea is low. And you can get tea anywhere,” she admitted.
I beg to differ, you can’t get quality tea anywhere in Bangkok. I reviewed a place in Chinatown a while ago and feel that it’s easier to get a quality cup of coffee than that of tea in Bangkok, despite the godzillian number of Thai-Chinese in the city, myself partly included.
Even without tea, I would still highly recommend you try Feng Zhu pork dumplings. I just hope Jurairat will let me bring my own tea to enjoy the delectable dumplings the next time I drop by.
Feng Zhu is located near Siphraya Pier, next to Sheraton Hotel. It opens every day from 11am to 7pm. Call 062-264-4661 for details. This review is unsponsored and the author paid for all the food himself.