Fu’s Repair Shop Aims to Celebrate Chinese Culture
The folks behind a new bar and restaurant called Fu’s Repair Shop hope it can showcase Chinese culture in a different way.
Since opening in early April in the former Prairie Fish and Chips space, partner and head chef Winnie Tsing Chen says the response from guests has been overwhelmingly positive. “I think Edmonton has been needing a place like this for a very long time now, and we are so glad to be able to provide it,” said Chen.
Fu’s is a project spearheaded by Chen and four individuals who co-own The Common and 9910, which includes Justin Der, who separately also owns the clothing store Foosh. The establishment’s name, which obscures the fact that food or drink will be served, is deliberate and is connected to some of Der’s family heirlooms.
“Who is Fu? It’s a mystery just like our repair shop exterior,” said Chen. “‘Fu’ is also a double nod to the Cantonese word for fortune or good luck. A framed swatch of the character hangs on Justin’s family wall, saved from the baby carrier used for Justin’s dad 70 years ago.”
Fu’s seems to be joining a national trend of hip, Asian-inspired restaurants that have popped up in other cities across Canada over the past decade, such as DaiLo in Toronto, and more recently, Gwailo in Calgary. But for Chen, the impetus for Fu’s was much simpler.
“The inspiration behind Fu’s was just wanting to open a fun place … that serves fun, delicious food that we want to eat and cook, serve drinks that we want to make and drink, in a place where we would want to hang out,” said Chen. “We love dim sum and Chinese food, and we wanted it for more than just brunch.”
The food menu will be familiar to those who have frequented dim sum restaurants, including dumplings, rice rolls, and lotus-wrapped sticky rice, but it also features some more fusion-style dishes, such as five-spice duck tacos and green onion cake panzanella salad (as a fun aside, the food items are all priced to end with .88; the number eight is considered lucky in Chinese culture).
Chen shared that the menu is both a practical compilation but also an homage to what she has enjoyed eating over the years. “The dim sum is basically a ‘greatest hits’ of our combined favourites, keeping in mind what is achievable given our budget, kitchen size, team, and equipment availability. And the rest of the menu is things I was inspired by during our mini food trip to Vancouver back in January, some personal favourites, and other delicious dishes from some personal travels from when I was young.”
One of Chen’s family recipes also made the cut. “My proudest dish has to be Mr. Chen’s beef noodle bowl, just because it is my dad’s personal beef and soup recipe,” said Chen. “My family used to have a noodle shop in Chinatown when I was younger and that was my favourite dish that my dad would make. I’m really happy to be able to bring it back. It also makes me really happy to see him smile when I get to tell him about how we’ve sold out of soup on a particular day.”
On the drinks side, social media has been buzzing about Fu’s boozy bubble tea. “I think I’m lucky that while everyone else spent their lockdown downtime making sourdough, my girlfriend and I spent our time mastering boba and cheese foam,” laughs Chen. “While our food menu leans heavily Chinese, we wanted our cocktail menu to be more pan-Asian just to open up the options for ingredients and flavour profiles we can explore.”
Fu’s has allowed Chen to build on her personal connection with Chinatown through the intentional sourcing of ingredients.
“My parents were immigrants to Canada and I grew up in the Boyle Street area, just blocks away from Chinatown, so Chinatown has always felt like home to me,” said Chen. “We use Delta for our rice noodles, and I go to United Grocers, 99 Supermarket, and Hiep Thanh to pick up our produce, dry goods, and spices. I’m really hoping this can be my platform to contribute my part to support Chinatown and its businesses and revitalization.”
Due in part to Fu’s unconventional exterior and how it leans into some Chinese tropes in décor, there have been some questions about whether the restaurant could be seen as commodifying Chinese culture. Chen believes those who visit Fu’s for themselves will see what they are trying to achieve.
“I never thought for once, ‘Hey, I think we can make lots of money off Chinese food or Chinese culture.’ My goal with the menu is to share some of my favourite Chinese dishes, but also just have fun with the menu and enjoy what I cook. We just want to let the food and experience speak for itself, and I think that in itself is the essence of celebrating the culture.”
Chen is optimistic that Fu’s could act as a bridge for guests to further explore Chinese culture, including through visiting businesses in Chinatown.
“I would really like diners to leave the experience wondering, ‘What else is out there? Where did this come from?’ And even though I may have been inspired by hip and trendy places around the world, I’m also trying to translate my memories of family vacations, home-cooked meals from my parents and grandma, and childhood memories of my favourite restaurants in Chinatown that are sadly no longer in business,” she said.
“That food and that vibe, even though not visually the same as Fu’s, is a feeling I’m trying to recreate with the food and experience.”
- Earl of Sandwich has opened its second franchise in Edmonton, at 10083 109 Street.
- Fresh Slice, a BC-based chain, is now open Downtown at 10071 109 Street.
- Cafe Blackbird in Crestwood has permanently closed after eight years in business.
- 11 Edmonton area restaurants are participating in Le Pizza Week from May 1-14, 2022.
- EdmontonEats will be hosting a new series called World Community Feasts at Avonmore Community League, starting with their first event on May 13, 2022. Cindy Lazarenko will share recipes from her Ukrainian roots. Tickets are $25 each.
- Ice District will be hosting tailgate parties during the Oilers’ playoff run.
- Giselle Courteau and Jake Pelletier are stepping away from Duchess to “focus on our children, families and new adventures.” Garner Beggs will remain involved in the business alongside two near partners, including Jay Downton and Ewa Jastrzebski of Oodle Noodle (among other initiatives).
- The Butchery is offering a Mother’s Day brunch kit for those who are looking at preparing a meal at home.
- Linda’s #AdoptAShopAB initiative returns, and focuses all on food businesses this time around! Nominate businesses from May 2-5, then look for the curated list of 50 Edmonton (and 50 Calgary) businesses and sign up to support them May 16-30.
- Also from Linda, she updated her dog-friendly patios list, just in time for some stellar weather this week.
- Sharon tried the brunch served at Filistix.
- Edify checked out Fu’s Repair Shop, and revisited El Mariachi.
- Do you have mad burger skills? Prove it at Jack’s Burger Shack’s Burgersport competition.
- The Colombian’s French Quarter location celebrated its first birthday over the weekend.
- CBC dives into why Edmonton is considered good testing ground for American chains looking to expand in Canada.
- Honest Dumplings was featured by Shaw Business as a part of their Passion Profile campaign.
- The City of Edmonton has expanded their alcohol consumption at designated picnic sites to encompass 124 picnic sites at 18 parks. New parks to this year’s program includes Paul Kane and Ezio Farone Park.
- The Organic Box will be receiving an investment from the Government of Canada to adapt their Güd Box to improve access to fresh, affordable, and seasonal produce to low income and new Canadian families.
Urban Agriculture and Farming
- The Edmonton Urban Farm also received funding from the Government of Canada to expand their footprint.
What I Ate
- I am really hoping local meal kits, possibly my favourite pandemic pivot, continue to thrive. We tried Momma Tong’s frozen bun bo hue kit that we picked up at the Chinatown Transformational Collaborative pop-up at the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market back in February. Although the noodles took longer to cook than I was expecting (I probably should have pre-soaked the noodles), the soup had great flavour and it made for a great lunch.
Momma Tong’s Bun Bo Hue
- For lunch at Dagu Rice Noodle with Linda last week, I tried one of their crossing the bridge soups for the first time! The do-it-yourself process felt a little like having an individual hot pot, and having access to unlimited noodles was a nice bonus.
Crossing the bridge soups from Dagu
- The return of fair weather also means the return of picnics! We dined on take-out from Backstairs Burger, including the Chip Shop Sammich.
Chip Shop Sammich and fries from Backstairs Burger
- We tried Banh Mi Cali for the first time on the weekend. We shared the charbroiled beef and charbroiled pork banh mi. The bread was outstanding, and though it was pricier than #yegchinatown competitors, they were pretty satisfying sandwiches.
Our Banh Mi Cali order