The good thing about the pandemic is that it has given us moments to pause and remember the friends who loved Fa Yian
It all started with a bowl of soup. The weather was a bit nippy, and we wanted to have something that was light but hot. We’d have soup for dinner, we decided, and I started surfing the Net to see where I could order from. To my great joy I found that Fa Yian was delivering to my part of town.
I have old and fond memories of Fa Yian. Among all that I miss in these pandemic times are a Mumbai friend’s Delhi visits. He used to follow a pattern that we had to stick to, no questions asked. We would go for a meal to one of his favourite restaurants, and order the dishes he loved. ‘Have something else if you wish to,’ he’d say, but he looked so sad when he said this that we never went beyond the script. One of his haunts for a long spell was Fa Yian, in Connaught Place (A Block 25/5, Middle Circle; Ph: 9899358888 011-41516788).
The good thing about the pandemic is that Fa Yian’s food is coming home, so we can order what we wish to, without having to contend with the friend’s sorrowful look. We’d originally thought of just ordering mixed hot and sour soup (₹235), but then we decided we could do with some mixed Chinese chop suey (₹415), too. And since a healthy meal calls for greens, I asked for a plate of stir-fried vegetables (₹395).
I had an excellent Chinese meal after a long time. The restaurant didn’t scrimp at all on ingredients. The soup, for instance, had juicy pieces of chicken and prawns, and little veggie chunks in it. It was hot and deliciously sour, and cleared up my sinuses.
The stir-fried vegetable consisted of broccoli, baby corn, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, pok choy, mushroom, Chinese cabbage, and other greens, all lightly sautéed and sauced. They were neither mushy, nor hard.
I moved on to the Chinese chop suey. This has been a favourite of mine ever since I had my first taste of it at a Manali restaurant in 1980.
I love the different textures in a chop suey — the crunchiness of the noodles and the juiciness of the vegetable and meat mix that you put on top. But I am afraid not every restaurant gets this right. Sometimes the sauce is too gelatinous; occasionally the noodles are too hard.
Fa Yian’s mixed chop suey was just right. The noodles were freshly fried and crisp, and the accompanying dish had loads of crunchy veggies, juicy nuggets of chicken and surprisingly large prawns, nicely sweet and tender.
They had sent some sauces, but the dish was good enough without added condiments. What I really liked were the strips of omelette the dish had to be garnished with.
The prices are reasonable. I paid a total of ₹1,227 for the three dishes (including Swiggy’s delivery charges). The menu includes various kinds of soups, vegetable, lamb, chicken and fish dishes.
I was also happy to see that one of our Mumbai friend’s favourite dishes — honey chicken (crispy chicken strips tossed with honey and garnished with a cherry) — is still going strong.
Perhaps, the next time I order from Fa Yian, I shall toast the friend (a much awarded journalist, by the way) with some honey chicken.
The writer is a seasoned food critic