Whatever Francesca Mazza and Aaron Carson turn their hands to is guaranteed to be an eating experience you'll want to repeat. Their new restaurant FANG is no different.
The duo behind popular Auckland eateries Friday I’m In Love, Winona Forever, Hello Friends + Allies, Major Tom, and Rude Boy promise that FANG is “pulling the pin on a Sichuan flavour grenade”. They dreamed up a story based on a renegade chef named Fang who leads “The Underground Flavour Liberation Front’s fight to bring flavour and taste to the people”. They commissioned Auckland comic book artist Ant Sang to bring Fang and her world to life for the restaurant, located in the courtyard behind Winona Forever in Parnell.
“Fran and I quite like food and chaos and there is no escaping a little of that mix due to our nature. What people can expect from a night at FANG though is a taste sensation like no other - we call it a Sichuan flavour grenade, an environment that places you right in the world of the renegade chef Fang - a Pop-Asian Quadrophonic with equal parts Chinese opium den, Sichuan street market and dystopian-comic-freak-out,” Aaron says.
The menu is based on sharing – small and large plates – and the cuisine is flavour-filled Sichuan regional food. There is nothing watered down here.
“We are lucky to have some great friends from Sichuan whose house we would visit for these incredible dinners,” Aaron says. “Unless you are plugged into a network of people who come from the region or you travel there, you would never get to taste the true Sichuan flavours.
“We were blown away and made it our mission to offer up what we experienced with authenticity and deliver it in a super-fun environment.”
We loved the Cured Salmon Tartare with its delicious crispy nori cone, Sichuan crumb, avocado and lime puree and caviar; and the Lemon Goat’s Cheese and Seasonal Vegetable Crystal Skin Shanghai Dumplings. The latter were lovingly rolled by the 60-something- year-old master dumpling roller Jack Chan.
Make room for the 10 Hours Braised Pork Belly with its sweet soy sauce, confit garlic, ginger carrot puree and wilted bok choy. Likewise, the Slow Cooked Beef Shin with Homemade Chilli Oil (FANG’s chilli oil is outstanding) is set to become a firm favourite.
The Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli is a winner. With black sesame mayo, puffed buckwheat, Sichuan spiced bread crumb, and parsley mayo parmesan cheese, this iteration is guaranteed to win over even the most diehard opponents of these cruciferous vegetables.
Mixologist Fabritzio Candioni has created cocktails that help elevate the whole dining experience and challenge preconceptions at the same time. The Jade Dragon – a mix of silver tequila, cucumber and lemon juice, agave syrup, House Szechuan spice – exemplifies this.
We’ll definitely be back.