Classic cooking from China’s central region has landed in Hartsdale.
A far cry from the Americanized takeout version of Chinese food, Fantasy Cuisine is a chic, 88-seat restaurant featuring Sichuan fare, one of the country’s foremost regional cuisines. The place opened in July on Central Avenue in the former home of Caffe Azzurri, an Italian restaurant that was once the home of Cafe Mezé.
“We live around this area and every time we want to get authentic Chinese food, we have to drive to Flushing or Chinatown,” said Auston Chu, who hails from Taiwan and runs the restaurant. “So now you can get the same quality of food here.”
There’s dim sum, those small plates shared at the table. Try the steamed pork soup dumplings served in a bamboo steamer and the house steamed buns filled with roast duck, scallions, cucumber and hoisin sauce. They’re favorites at Chu’s other restaurant, Dumpling + Noodle in Bronxville.
Order one of the classic Sichuan stir fry entrees, like the red soup style with beef, cabbage, dry chili peppers, tofu and soybean sprouts in chili oil hot sauce. Labeled “very spicy,” it’s not for timid taste buds.
“Right now Sichuan food is getting popular, especially for young people. This food gives you a new, fresh taste,” said stir fry chef Jun Gang Zhang, translated by Chu. Zhang is from Harbin in northeast China.
Cool off from the mala (literally translated as “numbingly spicy”) with a variety of fruit and bubble teas, as well as desserts such as green tea ice cream, steamed custard buns and flaky red bean pastries.
“Everything is fresh-made and healthy — no MSG,” said Meiling Du, the dim sum, hot appetizer and dessert chef. (Chu translated for her, too.)
The modern interior is designed with clean lines in slate and almond tones. The mango-yellow front door and leather booths add a vibrant pop.
Fifteen induction burners are built into nine tables for hot pots, a family style of cooking and eating thinly sliced meats and vegetables in a soup broth at the table — also called shabu-shabu in Japan, or steamboats in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The restaurant will have a full-liquor bar in a few weeks. A kids’ menu and weekday lunch deals are available.
— By Amy Sowder. Twitter: @AmySowder
If you go…
Fantasy Cuisine, 20 N. Central Ave., Hartsdale. 914-358-9046/9047. Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and noon-9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Great for: Big Groups, Cheap Eats, Date Night, Solo Dining, Excellent Desserts, Girls’ Night Out, Kid Friendly, Going Out on Mondays, Romantic, Dinner With Grandparents, Singles Scene, Small Plates, Special Occasion Dining