Nov 26, 2009|
There’s really no other way to put this: The best thing I’ve eaten in recent months was the Fergus, which I ate with the (actual) Fergus.
The singular Fergus Fung is the man that makes up one-half of the WOM Guide, Hong Kong’s answer to the Zagat long before Zagat ventured over here and fizzled. And so I asked him the broken-record-question that I’m sure plagues his daily existence: “What restaurants should I go to?”
I’d have understood if he’d wanted to bite my head off. But if you’ve ever met Fergus, or his wife Terri, you’d know that they both possess the natural grace and patience I fail to exhibit in such examples as when I wrote my Bitch-Please column. No, they use their powers for good, not evil, and like some biblical “this bread is my flesh” sacrifice, they brought up the fact that there was a “Fergus maki” in a Japanese restaurant in Causeway Bay called Iwanami, and offered to set up a meal together.
Let me break it down for you. The Fergus maki starts off like any regular sushi roll—nori seaweed, vinegared sushi rice—but that’s before the chef takes a blowtorch and puts the flames up against a dangling hunk of pure tuna fat so that the slightly charred drippings dribble all over the rice. It. Tastes. Like. Buttah. Generation one of the Fergus maki is finished off with chopped toro (fatty tuna) and shiso leaves. Generation two has the addition of fried tempura scallions, made fresh in Iwanami’s custom deep fryer.
“It’s the same logic of ju yao fan (lard rice),” said Fergus, and I understood completely.
There were three other times when I had encountered a dish named after a person. The first was during college, a period in my life when I was perpetually broke (or just dirt-cheap) and dinners consisted of the “Clinton” in Hamilton Deli in New York—a sandwich oozing with mayonnaise at the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
The second example barely passes as one. A friend had made a dessert inspired by me, which would have been flattering, except it was a big fat marshmallow-like object. I don’t know what that says about my impression on people. Either that I’m mentally air-headed or that I physically resemble Staypuff. I passed on associating myself with it.
And the last was a question during an interview where I was asked something along the lines of: “If you were a dish, what would you be?” My answer was a stream-of-conscious splatter of BS. “Rice, because, uh...of my Asian heritage. Made with lots of love...uh, because I’m a tool bag who is totally corny?”
The truth is, when you think about it—there are very few things people believe in enough to put their names on. But that’s a leap all foodies have to take at some point to be legit. And the Fergus maki stood up to the test in being sleek and sophisticated, with a slight bad-ass edge (from the blowtorch and the fat).
Now, why hadn’t I been the one to think of it first?