Restaurant Fei: "You've Never Tasted Chinese Cuisine Quite Like This"
The seasoned chef, Frank, is confident: Restaurant Fei is the best Chinese restaurant in Gothenburg. Perhaps in all of Scandinavia. "After visiting Fei, you'll leave with a deeper understanding of Chinese food culture," he believes.
Head Chef Guowei Zhou from the Shandong province in Northern China looks up at the Kitchen God hanging in a gold frame on the wall.
The chef lights some incense and waves the smoke around the room. A table is set with several delicious Chinese dishes.
By making offerings to the Kitchen God, he is rewarded with good business, kitchen mishaps are averted, and the god protects both the staff and the guests, Guowei explains.
Or, more precisely, this is explained to us via Swedish Victor Weinas. He is the sous-chef at the restaurant, and also an interpreter.
Guowei, who currently only speaks Chinese, has an English name, Frank, which we are invited to use.
Frank brings his hands together, looks towards the Kitchen God and takes a small glass. With this, he pours rice wine over the floor. The kitchen falls silent. The authoritative head chef is clearly respected.
"All serious restaurants worship the Kitchen God. It's important to have faith," he insists.
Fei Serves Authentic Chinese Food
Restaurant Fei, located in the Clarion Hotel® The Pier in Lindholmen, Gothenburg, has great ambitions. Here, guests will experience an authentic Chinese culinary journey so authentic that Fei aims to take the lead in the Chinese culinary scene in Gothenburg. The goal is actually all of Scandinavia.
It all started when the owner of Strawberry, Petter Stordalen, wanted to open a genuine and authentic Chinese restaurant. And for that, he needed to have the very best people in the kitchen. Back in China, Frank heard through friends that a head chef was being sought for a city in Sweden. He applied, and after a series of trials and tests, he got the job. It would be equally accurate to say that he was handpicked. This is perhaps not surprising, as the chef has extensive experience from a number of reputable hotels, including the Shangri-La Hotels, Windsor, and Sofitel.
A Popular Restaurant
"I've worked as a chef in China for 26 years and have experience from four different 5-star restaurants," says Frank.
"Petter Stordalen's requirements were high, and they wanted a chef who was adept at authentic and traditional Chinese cooking."
"I mean, not the versions of Chinese food we usually see in Europe. Real Chinese food and that's what I can deliver," he insists.
The result is a modern and renowned venue, which is practically fully booked every evening. Both locals, business travellers, and groups of friends are keen to taste its authentic Chinese food.
At Fei, they focus on three of China's eight culinary styles. You will experience natural flavours and Cantonese cuisine, and the colourful Sichuan kitchen adds a little more kick to the taste buds in the form of chilli and pepper.
Additionally, guests can experience Zhejiang, which has a penchant for the sweet and sour, and rice wine.
"Fei is an eye-opener for those seeking a Chinese dining experience far beyond the ordinary," says Frank.
The Taste of Authentic Chinese Cuisine
We sit at a round table with panoramic views over Gothenburg. Frank has prepared some quick tasting dishes and tea. We are served a cold dish with osmanthus, tomatoes, and preserved plums. It's sweet and fresh, with a taste so surprising that we're at a loss for words. Extremely delicious. In addition, we get to try mapo tofu and a dish with pork and chilli. Frank whipped this up in just a few minutes. Simple, very spicy, and extremely flavoursome.
We could have stopped there; Strawberry has already achieved Fei's goal: to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese food culture and undergone a test of strength that's a bit outside our comfort zone in terms of heat. As Frank pointed out earlier, authentic means authentic. He wants the guests to taste the food as it should be. No unnecessary adjustments or changes.
"When we say authentic Chinese food, I'm referring to the food culture that has evolved over hundreds and thousands of years in China. Making authentic Chinese food is about respecting the culture and the history of the dishes. I'm not saying all other Chinese food is bad, but the real deal involves following traditional recipes, respecting them and not changing the fundamental flavours. A bit of refining can, of course, be done, but for the most part, it's about preserving what's been taught from master to student, and then from master to the next student again, thereby keeping it as it should be," says Frank.
From China to Gothenburg
Fei offers something completely new, unique and beyond the usual Asian cuisine that we're used to. But what does Fei mean to you, we ask?
"In my heart, Fei is an international restaurant with a Chinese character. The idea is to bring Chinese fine dining and culture to Sweden, and to eat Chinese food and classic dishes in a new way that hasn't been done before, at least not in Sweden," says Frank.
It's been eight months since he left China and gambled everything on letting Swedes and other guests partake in this unique culinary experience.
But what is it like to live in Gothenburg?
"It's a beautiful country. He likes the environment and feels there's a genuine respect for nature. It's important to have a sense of sustainability," translates Victor translates, getting another sentence from Frank:
"Also, there are good schools here, which is great for his daughters. Plus, he says that Swedes are funny!"
Have you eaten anywhere else that you could recommend, we ask. Our question is then translated and discussed.
We're uncertain and ask again... are there no other Asian restaurants you would recommend in Gothenburg?
Frank is steady in his gaze, gentle, but firm:
"Only Fei serves good, authentic Chinese food in Gothenburg!"