By Bernie Whitmore
Feng Asian Bistro
The Shoppes at Blackstone Valley
70 Worcester-Providence Turnpike Millbury
A step into Feng Asian Bistro is a step into another dimension. Backlit wood paneling and dining areas faced with thin layers of stone veneer are illuminated by a sophisticated lighting system. Feng is divided into sections with distinctly different temperaments: an Hibachi room that plays host to boisterous celebrations, peaceful dining areas, a sleekly gleaming bar and the main dining room which is anchored by a sushi bar backed by full wall of scarlet molded paisley.
These were great first impressions, but just as impressive was Feng’s service. My friend and I were immediately greeted and led to a comfortable booth. A full team provided unfailingly attentive service and information while continuously reconfiguring the dining room to accommodate the various groups that arrived.
Feng Bistro’s menu continued the process of elevating my expectations. From salads such as Brûléed Black and White Figs to the Kobe Beef Carpaccio appetizer, I encountered unique combinations and ingredients. In spite of those temptations, though, the sushi bar loomed large. Our appetizer choice was never in doubt.
To start our meal, we decided to share the Sushi Bar Entrée. This combination of five sushi, twelve sashimi and spicy tuna avocado roll was the “Chef’s choice,” and good sushi chefs have my unflagging confidence. As our server rearranged our tabletop to accommodate the dish, I eagerly anticipated variety and freshness. But this would also be our introduction to Feng’s dramatic flair. A long rectangular serving dish contained the tuna roll and sushi at one end; at the other sat a deep oval bowl packed with granular ice upon which was displayed rows of sashimi and springy shredded daikon. Looming behind them, a huge pale-blue mussel shell served as proscenium arch.
We immediately split apart our chopsticks and sampled the sashimi. Maguro, hamachi, salmon, and sea bass ~ every glistening chunk was exquisitely clean, fresh and tender. The sticks of avocado in the tuna roll were creamy-soft and delicious. We soon ran out of wasabi and were promptly served another bowl. Feng’s pickled ginger was also exceptional in that it retained a significant amount of spicy ginger flavor.
That’s just one face of the Feng’s cuisine. How’s this for fusion? My entrée: Seaweed Powder Aromatic Herb Crusted Scottish Salmon. If you agree that majestic fish deserve the finest respect, this is the place for you. The salmon steak was sealed in a thin crispy crust of the herb-seaweed mixture. The flesh flaked apart, juicy and tasty. It was presented on a platform of perfectly steamed white and emerald asparagus. Absolutely elegant.
Meanwhile, my companion was waxing poetic about his entrée, Forbidden Spice Crusted Scallops. Served with duck fried rice, shaved fennel and warm ruby grapefruit sections, four jumbo scallops were impossibly tender and delicious. The rice had generous shreds of duck and was served over a small salad dressed with honey grapefruit vinaigrette. Not prone to complement, he was praising the chef as an artist working with a palette of colors, textures and flavors.
Even our beer, Sapporo Draft, seemed exceptional as it subtly adapted to each course.
For those of you still squeamish about raw fish ~ go to Feng Asian Bistro for their diverse entrees. Or just go to their website and read the menu; it’s irresistible. As I departed into the warm summer evening, I felt I’d had one of the best meals in my local dining history.