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February 24, 2011

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Actor opens high-end Japanese eatery

THE name of Japanese restaurant Fount indicates "flowing water," and in Chinese it sounds similar to fang, which means "the majesty that comes from the East."

"It's very lucky in feng shui and is particularly relevant since Japan is the East too," says owner Hu Ge, a young Shanghainese actor. "We use it to make our business better, like a fountain, it never stops flowing."

The high-end restaurant opened last December in the new creative center Surpass Court on Yongjia Road.

Fine traditional Japanese cuisine is served with innovation and style - from sashimi and sushi to a full range of dishes and then dessert.

"High-end, classy, unique, elegant and exquisite, I want to make this place somewhere guests feel at home," says Hu.

Featuring a style both comfortable and luxurious, the restaurant contains a dining room, lounge and outdoor patio. The result is a space that seems always full but never crowded.

"For the design, I've given it my personal touch, focusing on more modern and fashionable elements," comments Hu. "Dining here should feel low-key, relaxed and leisurely."

Head chef Kikuchi Yoshiyuki from Japan ensures the dishes are authentic and meticulously prepared.

Yoshiyuki previously worked at the InterContinental hotel and Nobu restaurant in Tokyo.

"Shanghai people's taste for Japanese food is very similar to that of Japanese, which is much lighter than Western customers," says the head chef.

Yoshiyuki is famous for his sushi knife skills, delivering slices as thin as 0.1-0.2 centimeter. He pays particular attentions to the sauces and soups, as well as the freshest possible vegetables for his creative dishes. Ingredients are sourced from around the world, including Japan (especially sauces), China, Australia, Russia and Europe.

"Dining at Fount is a special experience, from the friendly waiters to the clean, open dining room," says Xiao Fan, a 29-year-old Shanghai office lady who loves Japanese food.

She has been a regular in the couple of months Fount has been open. "The food sometimes looks like an art piece. I am surprised to find special ingredients in some traditional dishes," she says.

Chef Yoshiyuki emphasizes that his cooking is based on traditional Japanese cuisine, combined with his own creations.

His Chawanmushi (Steamed Egg Custard) contains "chieh-qua" and "arrowhead," which are rarely used in other Japanese restaurants.

Meanwhile, "not all the sashimi is accompanied with soy sauce," he notes. "Different kinds require different sauces to bring out the flavor, such as lemon vinegar, grapefruit vinegar and grated radish."

The chef's grilled foie gras steamed egg custard with bits of chestnut (88 yuan, US$13) achieves a flan-like consistency, while the liquid seems like creme caramel. There's also homemade tofu (58 yuan), black sesame-flavored tofu with a panna cotta texture that's accompanied by sour vinegar gelee, mushrooms and crab.

The braised pork and radish with carrot and hard-boiled egg (48 yuan) has a mild, balanced sweetness.

Yoshiyuki's dessert platter (88 yuan) is the restaurant's star attraction. It features a green tea pudding that perfectly marries the delicate essence of tea with a gooey molten center.

Though the food and setting are delightful, the average dinner costs 300-500 yuan per customer, a bit pricy.

But lunchtime set meals are offered at 58 yuan and 88 yuan.

Address: No. 1, Bldg 5, Surpass Court, 570 Yongjia Rd

Tel: 6073-7786

Note: There is no parking space inside Surpass Court, but four parking sites are available on the nearby Yueyang Road.


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