When I read about Fei Jai, a new Cantonese restaurant, earlier this month in the September issue of the Australian Gourmet Traveller, I giggled and went, "Cool! Someone's named their restaurant Little Hoodlum!". Immediately, before I read the rest of the article, I thought of traditional Cantonese dishes re-interpreted in a cute and cheeky way, like a little thug, to be eaten in an environment not unlike those teahouses that you see in some Hong Kong action flick about gangsters and triads. Fun!
Then I realised they meant "fat boy". Bah.
See, "肥仔" (fat boy) and "飛仔" (little hoodlum) written in Chinese characters look totally different and thus pronounced slightly different to mean different things. When written in English - "fei jai" - without those diacritical marks we use in hanyu pinyin to denote the various tones, confusion sets in. Haha. But then again, who would name their Chinese restaurant "Little Hoodlum" (besides me - I really think it's such a cool name!) instead of the very appropriate and obvious "Fat Boy"?
Anyway, end of Chinese lesson. Back to Fei Jai, the restaurant.
One of yesterday's specials: Crispy-skinned poussin
Five of us (Ms Meeps, Ms Carpet and her A-man, the boyfriend and I) went eat there last evening. You can read reviews written by professionals here and here and we agree with them on most counts...
~ Crab & Eggwhite Omelette - My very first ever omelette sans yolks because I love the yellow stuff. "Bah!" to eating healthy but if all yolk-free omelettes are like Fei Jai's, then I wouldn't mind eating them everyday. It was full of chunks of crabmeat and so creamy that I wouldn't know that it's whites-only if I wasn't told. It reminded me of œufs à la neige. You know that meringue-y Floating Island/Snow Egg dessert? In fact, Ms Meeps said that the next time she goes to Fei Jai, she would order one to start her meal with and another for dessert. (They need to work on their dessert menu - only two items on the menu and they are so not exciting that I now can't remember what they are.)
~ Siu Mai - Little steamed dumplings filled with scallops, prawns and porky-pig mince so I didn't have any but the meat-eaters said they were good.
~ Steamed Mushroom Rice Noodle Rolls - A variety of mushrooms wrapped in thin and soft noodle sheets. The test is how smoothly it glides down your throat and Fei Jia's passed with flying colours!
~ Steamed Fish-Of-The-Day - We all agreed at pre-dinner drinks that this is a must-order. I mean, a Cantonese meal is not complete without this simple steamed fish dish. I was hoping we'd get a whole fish - face, eyes and all - but barramundi was their fish-of-the-day and we were served huge chunks of it. Didn't make a difference because it's all in the clear soy steaming broth and cooking time and they got it down pat.
~ Ma Po Tofu - Another porky-pig mince-filled dish for the meat-eaters. I think it's of Szechuan origin but everybody loves a good Ma Po Tofu so Cantonese or not, it's on the menu. The boyfriend loved it. "The sauce is rich and thick but not cornstarchy gluggy like those at cheap Chinese take-aways," he said.
~ Crispy-skinned Poussin - Baby chicken so deep-fried that you can eat the crunchy bones but still moist in the meat. Eaten with a squeeze of lemon and dipped into spiced salt = heaven! And the pink prawn crackers that came with the dish brought back memories of the countless Cantonese birthday and wedding banquets that I attended as a child - I always asked for more of those crackers.
~ Wok-fried Seasonal Greens - Super garlicky, green, shiny and crunchy. Just how I like my vegetable stir-fries. Like how my mom does it. Nyum.
If you do pay the Fat Boy a visit, I'd say go in a gang of little hoodlums like we did. Chinese food is all about communal eating (it's fun!) and with more mouths to feed, you can order loads more items off the menu to sample. Oh, and go early because they are one of those places that don't take reservations.
31 Challis Ave
Ph: (02) 8668 4424
Hours: Monday, Wednesday Thursday & Friday: 6pm - late / Saturday & Sunday: 12noon - late