We clearly overordered.
It’s easy to do at Chuan Fu, the new restaurant from the owners of Chuan Lu Garden. The menu – which is maddeningly unstructured – is a many-paged picturebook of enticing items. But the photos can’t really indicate just how delicious the food is, nor do they show proper scale – the portions are more than generous.
Take the Roast Duck Stew, for example. It was a veritable tureen, more than enough to serve our party of five, filled with a peppery broth with vegetables and ample hunks of cleavered meat.
Fish Fillet with Tofu had a similar broth, with cubes of tofu swimming with smaller bits of white fish.
One of my companions chose the Cauliflower Hot Pot, the large florets served in a wok over a charcoal brazier. It would seem to be a good vegetarian option until you get to the sausage that was also blended in.
Twice Cooked Pork, a classic Sichuan dish, was one of the standout entrees. it featured tender pork belly, first boiled and then wokked, with garlic and bell peppers.
A favorite appetizer – and by the way, there is no delineation on the menu between appetizers and entrees – was the Jelly Clear Noodles in Chili Sauce, firm and chewy mung bean noodles with a Sichuan pepper sauce that had that wonderful metallic tang.
The menu can be a bit daunting, not only for its voluminosity but also for some more unusual offerings, such as Boiled Blood Curd, Shrewish Kidney, Stir Fry Frog, and house Smoked Pig Snout (not pictured).
But there are familiar items for the less adventurous, such as pot stickers and Kung Pao Chicken.
The restaurant, which occupies the space that most recently was Orlando Meats, was a bit chaotic on the evening I visited, with people at the front waiting for long-ago ordered takeout and others waiting for large parties to vacate tables. Still, our server was calm and helpful.
And even with chaos and a challenging menu, food this good is worth the effort.