I’ve been wanting to write about a new restaurant and, on Friday, I took advantage of the opportunity to do so. After drinks with friends at Midnight Rambler, Hanna and I made the short walk to The Statler on Commerce. In this hotel, we found Fine China – a contemporary Chinese-American restaurant led by Chef Angela Hernandez.
The restaurant’s beautiful and modern interior immediately transports any entrant. On a summer night, sunlight comes through the floor-to-ceiling windows providing a warm environment towards the front of the restaurant. A variety of modern lighting fixtures give you plenty to see, but your eyes are eventually drawn to the golden roasted ducks hanging in the kitchen window. More on those later.
Hanna and I sat across from each other on one end of a long, community table. After about a minute of looking at our menu, Matthew (our server) approached to take our drink orders. Fine China has a creative list of cocktails. Hanna ordered the Pitch Black, a refreshing and light gin drink turned black with activated charcoal. I landed on the Going Green, a cocktail with Monkey Shoulder Scotch. We both enjoyed our selection, but not as much as we enjoyed each other’s original choices! We would switch drinks for our next round.
The drinks were excellent, but the food blew us away. Fine China’s menu is designed for sharing, featuring a long list of dim sum, along with cold dishes, rice & noodles, and large dishes. We came for the duck, and we would eventually get it. But prior to that, we enjoyed Smacked Cucumber, Shishito Peppers, Spicy Chicken Wings, and Sticky Grilled Pork Ribs.
All of the opening acts were delicious. The Smacked Cucumber proved to be equal parts refreshing and flavorful. Katsuobushi danced on top of the juicy shishito peppers. The meats were perfectly cooked so that they fell off the bone and the sauces complimented, not covered, their flavor. More than the taste, you could tell that thought was put into the presentation. I’ve never seen ribs and wings look so beautiful. I only wish the beauty transferred to me like the sauce did to my cheeks.
And then, there was the duck. On a smooth wooden board, the duck was organized by cut and accompanied by steamed buns, sliced veggies, and hoisin bbq sauce. We found the sauce to be completely unnecessary. Every bite was a spiritual experience. The variety in the cuts created anticipation: “What’s this one going to taste like?” The veggies and buns were a perfect time out from the supremely savory bites of duck.
We wrapped up our meal with both of the desserts on the menu: a soft-serve vanilla ice cream with burnt miso caramel sauce and fried buns with powdered sugar and dulce de leche. Both were sweet, comforting dishes that reminded me of my favorite desserts as a kid while still bringing me something totally new.
Angela Hernandez and her staff are bringing the perfect amount of new flare to traditional dishes. Every aspect of the service was excellent. Dishes came out on time, questions were answered, every person that came to our table seemed excited about what they were doing, and Matthew (our server) was honest, helpful, and ended up being more of a friend than a waiter. Fine China inspired something in me that I haven’t yet experienced in my reviews so far. I’m already planning my return. I seriously cannot wait to get back in that restaurant, try some different dim sum and sink my teeth into that duck again.