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Fugu

FuguIn a word: Eat with fishes.

The specs: #0456  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Quomodocumque, 77 Square, Isthmus, Yelp, gcmadtown81, Badger Herald, QSC, Search for Authentic Food, Fugu website, Fugu on Urbanspoon

Sake and soy sauceJM ate the honey walnut shrimp with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the twice cooked pork with black bean special.
Ross ate the cashew chicken with a Sam Adams.
Samantha ate the penang curry with chicken and a sake.
We split some crab rangoon.
The bill was $75, or $18.75/person, plus tip.
JM and Ross gave Fugu an A; Nichole gave Fugu an A-; Samantha gave Fugu a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Latest Fugu news and reviews

Crab rangoonFugu has garnered local praise for trying to stay true to its roots and not dumb down its Szechuan menu for the masses. When we went for dinner on a Monday in late July, well after one would think their opening jitters had been smoothed over, there were still small issues with timing (our four entrees arrived over a quarter-hour span) and acoustics (unfortunately for us, the TV with tiki top was tuned to Family Guy). They also seemed to be doing some electrical work in the dining room in the middle of service, which was odd.

Twice cooked pork and black bean sauceDespite these challenges, our meal was worth putting on the "destination" list. We started with our customary, unapologetic order of crab rangoon. These had a hefty, thick wrapper, pinched into charming pinwheels, and were stuffed liberally with a lightly sweet filling of imitation crab.

Honey walnut shrimp

Nichole opted for a special off the board, the twice cooked pork with black bean sauce. Pieces of fatty pork - basically bacon - were mingled with fresh bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions in a gingery sauce with a good afterkick. The meat lent the dish an earthy, smoky flavor.

Panang curryJM anted up with the honey walnut shrimp. It had an excellent sweet flavor with very fresh and plentiful broccoli. Ten big shrimp in a very light tempura batter made for a filling and well-presented meal. The sauce, however, was the star, accented by coconut and candied walnuts.

Chicken stir frySamantha also commented on the huge portion of her curry dish, some of which came home for next day's lunch. Bite for bite, Ross's cashew chicken must have contained more meat than vegetables.

Fugu basically proved to us that there's not much reason to mourn over the demise of Yummy Buffet in that space, even if it does mess up our A to Z assonance.

Comments

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We experienced the "sequentially arriving entree" thing at a restaurant in New York's Chinatown once. I was a bit annoyed by it, but then when we traveled to China the following year, I quickly discovered that that seems to be the standard there. And the rice is often the last thing out - after all the entrees. Puzzled at first, I later theorized that maybe since people there tend to share entrees with the other people in their group, and since rice seems to be more a "filler" than anything else, this sequential serving method might make more sense for them than the "bring it all out at once" method that we're accustomed to here. So Fugu may be more authentic than you first thought! But then again, it could have just been a service snafu, too - who knows. But I'm glad to hear the food was good - I'll have to check it out!!

Has anyone else noticed that the menu is a near carbon copy of our sadly departed China Palace? Does Fugu employ the same chef?

Interesting theories!

Timmy: At a non-canonical trip to China Palace once, I ordered the twice-cooked pork with black bean sauce and got a dish of just bacon 'n' scallions. Not complaining, and not saying that hints either way. Chowhounds? What do you hear?

catwoman: it could be, but the apologies from the server made it seem like either it was a snafu, or she thought we'd think it was.

Numerous Chinese people that I know instantly crowned Fugu as the best Chinese restaurant in Madison. We went there for lunch today and it was quite good.

What I heard was that the original chef at China Palace was hired away by a restaurant in Chicago, explaining the dropoff in quality in its last year. The menu at Fugu isn't identical, though both have a lot of Szechuan stuff so there's some overlap. But I think Fugu does more fish than China Palace did. And I don't remember China Palace serving pig's blood or ear; stomach, yes, intestine, yes, blood and ear, no.

I recommend going with a Chinese person - there is a separate menu in chinese that has good stuff on it. I like to refer to it as the "Secret Chinese Menu". I'm pretty original.

I HA-A-A-A-ATE tv's in restaurants.

I know that I am late to comment, but Catwoman is right. Chinese food is best experienced family style, otherwise you are stuck with a huge monotonous plate of bite-sized meat and vegetables. Half an hour does seem strange, especially since you weren't having an elaborate dinner.

Their Szechuan eggplant dish is one of my favorite dishes in Madison. The eggplant is a bit oily, but the flavor is wonderful. It's enough for two people.

I also like their sesame pancakes and the spicy green beans.

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