I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to post about Fan Tang. I kind of feel like I’ve failed this favorite restaurant of ours, because I didn’t post about it when it was young and struggling. It’s finally becoming popular – if not as popular as it deserves – and now I post about it?
Well, one thing’s for sure: I have an inflated sense of my own importance as an Albuquerque tastemaker! But if I do have the ability to bring business to a restaurant, Fan Tang deserves it.
We had our eye on Fan Tang since long before it actually opened. Its space on Central and Carlisle was a wonderful, cool building that was originally a gas station in the 1930s. Its nifty cupola-dome thing was added during an incarnation as an Indian restaurant. We’d been watching it fall into disrepair for years as Club Rhythm and Blues – and then it was picked up by a new owner, part of the family that owned Chow’s Asian Bistro, one of my family’s favorite restaurants. We monitored it breathlessly as a lot of work (and a reported half-million dollars) were poured into the building’s facelift.
Finally it opened, a pretty space with clean lines, big windows, and massive comfy booths. The menu held all of our favorites from Chow’s, but in a choose-your-protein format: beef, chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Fan Tang has also introduced a tasty white fish option, so far available in only a couple of dishes.
And the food is great. So great that Arne has lunch there almost every week. So tasty that it seems like we’ve tried nearly everything on the menu, and had nothing we didn’t like. Their rich, spicy, mouth-tingling (plenty of Sichuan pepper!) Sichuan noodles are so good, I actually like them better than the Dan-Dan noodles I make from Fuschia Dunlop’s recipe. And as far as I’m concerned, it takes a heck of a cook to rumble with Fuschia.
|Sichuan street noodles|
My favorites? Well, the aforementioned noodles are at the top of my list, along with Sichuan green beans familiar from Chow’s – yeah, there’s a theme there – which are cooked to perfect wrinkled crispness, a little bit spicy and just a touch funky from the addition of fermented black beans. (They’re what Arne’s eating in the picture at the top.) The sweet-and-sour is delicious, not the gloppy red stuff from my Midwestern childhood. The spicy Firecracker dumplings and Korean-inspired Seoul dumplings are both worthy appetizers.
The dishes are made fresh in an open kitchen set a bit apart from the seating area, so you can see the occasional spurt of wok-flames, but the kitchen noise never disturbs the calm of the dining room. Service at Fan Tang is very friendly, in the casual order at the counter, have food delivered to your seat style that is so familiar in Albuquerque.
|A Seoul dumpling with cilantro pesto|
Basically, I don’t think you’ll go wrong with anything on the menu – or with interesting specials like the intensely savory tea-smoked beef. When the cheerful counter staff asks if you want white or brown rice? Get the brown. It’s the best I’ve had in any restaurant.
And tell them Arne sent you.
|A side of perfect brown rice|
NaBloPoMo 2014 Post #2