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Good value meal? get real

I HAD an email from a pensioner taking me to task for describing a €159 dinner-for-two as 'good value'. She does have a point.

We were very happy with what we did get, gnawing the frog legs in spicy salt and pepper and clashing chopsticks over the excellent squid. The bowl of hot sour soup, for me a 'must have', got the thumbs-up too.

We had a harder time with the mains. Scallops in black bean and ginger sauce were fine. The roasted duck was not up to scratch. It had clearly been filleted and refried (a safety procedure -- 'foreign devils' don't like their duck cold and on the bone). The pieces were hard and dry, more 'duck scratchings' than anything. The special fried rice didn't excite.

Fortunately, one dish came to the rescue in spectacular fashion and put the smiles back on our faces good style. The duck stuffed with prawn meat and glazed with a crab sauce was a triumph of texture and taste.

The wine list had been put together with a bit of care and was fairly priced. We shared an excellent bottle of Clare Valley riesling which cost €26.

From the dessert menu Sibs and Georgia took, purely in the interests of research, the banana fritter, a plain torpedo encased in thick batter. According to the menu it should have come with ice cream but didn't.

Despite the hiccups, Furama is a pretty good example of the genre, perhaps one of the best. My lament is that the genre doesn't set its sights very high. Cantonese food is the most varied and brightest jewel in the crown of Chinese cuisine.

I'd love a talented young chef to take the tradition and gear it up a notch or three with better ingredients, fresher flavours and, above all, less gloop.


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