A&E

Sichuan classics

Fey's extensive menu offers something for everyone

Fresh mushrooms with grilled at the 5-year-old Fey in Menlo Park. Photo by Natalia Nazarova.

Most people heading out to dinner at a Sichuan restaurant fall somewhere between two camps: those who want authentic cuisine and those who are looking for the typical Chinese comfort food they know and crave. At Fey, the two factions can dine happily side by side. Quality, meet quantity.

The 5-year-old restaurant, located just north of the traffic bottlenecks along El Camino Real in Menlo Park, made waves shortly after it opened by receiving the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand distinction, given to restaurants that offer excellent food at a reasonable price. Things have not changed in that respect.

Fey has an immense menu with 12 pages of dishes organized by main ingredients, followed by a subsection labeled "Family Traditional Private Kitchen." One section lists 53 seafood dishes, from Sichuan classics such as walnut shrimp, salt-and-pepper squid and fish in black bean sauce to more unusual offerings, such as green onion and ginger sea cucumber, hot stone plate red wine shrimp and something called dry cook belt fish. The pork section features 30 items and the vegetable section runs from eggplant and potatoes (#193) through spicy a choy, a Taiwanese lettuce (#210). And there are long listings for noodles, soups, dumplings, appetizers, chicken and beef. You get the idea.

The restaurant is nicely decorated, with silvery fish cascading along one wall and more of the same dangling from a ceiling mobile. Festive ball-shaped light fixtures are incongruously paired with a crystal chandelier by the front door. Roomy booths and large, well-spaced tables can handle large parties and, more importantly, the gigantic platters of dishes coming out of the kitchen. Each item we ordered arrived on plates the size of a medium pizza, with enough food for at least two additional meals at home.

After sipping tea and nibbling on complimentary crispy wontons, we got down to business. Our waiter warned us that we were being too ambitious about our appetites, so we limited ourselves to a few selections. The Hong Kong style pan-fried crispy egg noodles ($14.95) was a lovely mix of scallops, shrimp and fish with sautéed broccoli, bok choy and peapods, served on a cluster of crunchy noodles that quickly sopped up the light, tasty sauce. The fish fillet in black bean sauce ($13.95) was both savory and sweet, and the fish tender and flavorful.

Less successful was the dry cooked string bean with pork ($12.95), which was marked on the menu with a pepper connoting that it is a spicy option. My craving for spicy knows no limits, so I found this notation misleading. The dish lacked verve and the meat was so salty it was unpalatable.

We noticed heating units built into the tabletops for another house specialty, make-your-own hot pot, which you pay for by ingredient ($6.95 for a small base, then $1.50 to $12.95 for anything from sauce to meat and vegetables). It's a definite must for a group.

True to form, Fey also offers an extensive lunch menu (I counted 38 options, $8.95 to $9.95) of mostly standard fare ranging from curry shrimp to broccoli beef.

Service throughout was exemplary. Servers were friendly, prompt and stopped by often to see how we were doing, including making suggestions on how best to reheat our massive collection of leftovers. Dishes were staggered so that everything didn't arrive at the table at once, and water glasses were filled constantly and unobtrusively.

Fey's menu is so extensive that finding the standouts can seem like pure guesswork. It's amazing that the kitchen can put out so many dishes as well as it does. I plan on working my way through a few more pages until I find my favorites.

Fey Restaurant

1368 El Camino Real, Menlo Park

650-324-8888

feyrestaurant.com

Hours: Lunch daily 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Dinner, Sunday-Thursday 5-9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5-10 p.m.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by chubert
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2018 at 6:05 pm

Great review of Fey Chinese restaurant! It's my go-to for authentic Sichuan spicy Chinese food


Like this comment
Posted by Hua
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 6, 2018 at 8:10 pm

Food is good. But they are not kids friendly. Many of my friends had nasty service experience there because their baby kids made mess on the table and floor.


Like this comment
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 6, 2018 at 10:21 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

I love their cumin lamb.


2 people like this
Posted by HPG
a resident of Portola Valley
on Sep 7, 2018 at 6:56 am

Fey also offers take-out and I have never been disappointed. Food is great and they always have my order ready for pick up.


2 people like this
Posted by Frequent Diner
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 7, 2018 at 8:16 am

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by Kung Pao Dude
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 7, 2018 at 3:29 pm

I size up a Chinese restaurant by the number of Chinese diners actually having dinner there.

(1) If there are many of them, I assume the food is really good.
(2) If it's mostly white folks wearing cowboy hats & eating with a fork, I will generally pass.


2 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 7, 2018 at 6:47 pm

ChrisC is a registered user.

@Pao Dude Usually there are many Chinese people there. I invited a Chinese guest (Hong Kong) there to have hot pot, which I had never had. She did all the ordering and showed me what to do. She said it was very good and quite authentic.


8 people like this
Posted by Use Your Chopsticks
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm

>>>If it's mostly white folks wearing cowboy hats & eating with a fork, I will generally pass.

Sounds like a chop suey joint...most of which have long vanished.

On the other hand, I have seen white guys wearing trucker's caps eating sushi with a fork. Hilarious.


Like this comment
Posted by MSG?
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 7, 2018 at 7:31 pm

Do they use MSG?


2 people like this
Posted by Lee Bernstein
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 7, 2018 at 7:59 pm

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Chinese
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 7, 2018 at 11:05 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by Hicks Eating Sushi
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 8, 2018 at 2:25 pm

>>>On the other hand, I have seen white guys wearing trucker's caps eating sushi with a fork. Hilarious.

Though he wasn't wearing a trucker's cap, I once overheard a guy asking for ketchup.
And then...when he overdid it on the wasabi, his head nearly flew off.


Like this comment
Posted by Musabi Man
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2018 at 3:52 pm

I prefer SPAM sushi (musabi). The meat is already fully cooked and the pieces are bigger.

Very popular in Hawaii where SPAM is considered the state meat.




2 people like this
Posted by Aloha Baby
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2018 at 6:56 pm

Nothing like a big plate of Hawaiian belly food...loco moco (a hamburger served over a mound of steamed white rice with a couple of fried eggs and brown gravy on top) + another heaping helping of steamed white rice and macaroni salad on the side. Carbohydrate heaven.

The spam musabi is a good appetizer for getting the ball rolling.

For tropical shirt fashionistas, this is why many locals wear the 'island cut'...a fuller-dimensioned Hawaiian shirt that allows the belly some additional latitude to spread out in all its glory.

Jenny Craig has no followers out here.





Like this comment
Posted by Trademark Names
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 10, 2018 at 2:30 pm

^^^^ Is Jenny Craig a real person or just an advertising creation like Aunt Jimima, Betty Crocker and Uncle Ben?

I think Mrs. Fields is a real person as was Paul Newman.


Like this comment
Posted by Trademark Names
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 10, 2018 at 2:35 pm

And speaking of Chinese food...what about Mr. Chau?

He always seemed to have a way of cutting corners on his menu offerings.

And I never saw any Chinese people eting there. Just white people.


3 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 12, 2018 at 12:42 am

@Trademark names: Indeed, Jenny Craig is a real person, although age 86 now. Interesting to note, she got lockjaw in her old age and had surgery to fix it: Web Link).

Mrs. Fields is Debbi Fields (age 61), former batboy for the Oakland A's in her youth. "Fields" was the surname of her first husband who funded her adventure: Web Link Her first store was in Liddicoat's (food court) in downtown Palo Alto on University Avenue.


22 people like this
Posted by Real Names Inc.
a resident of another community
on Sep 12, 2018 at 9:51 am

@Trademark Names

Mr. Chau is also a real person. Following the poor reviews and countless closures of his 'Chinese fast-food' outlets, I believe he went on to open Panda Express.


24 people like this
Posted by Spiritual Food
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 12, 2018 at 10:03 am

> Nothing like a big plate of Hawaiian belly food...loco moco (a hamburger served over a mound of steamed white rice with a couple of fried eggs and brown gravy on top) + another heaping helping of steamed white rice and macaroni salad on the side. Carbohydrate heaven.

>> For tropical shirt fashionistas, this is why many locals wear the 'island cut'...a fuller-dimensioned Hawaiian shirt that allows the belly some additional latitude to spread out in all its glory.

OK. One explanation for obesity covered.


Next question...why is the Buddah (in various statues and pictures) always portrayed as a somewhat overweight individual? Wasn't he a wandering beggar with a rice bowl who originally shunned a life of luxury for one of poverty and spirituality?

Just how much rice was he actually eating?


24 people like this
Posted by The Answer Lies Within
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 12, 2018 at 12:58 pm

>>Just how much rice was he actually eating?

Well...when people are kind enough to offer you a bowl of rice, you cannot let good food go to waste or offend their well-meaning intentions.

Then again, maybe he liked rice.


20 people like this
Posted by OM
a resident of Portola Valley
on Sep 12, 2018 at 6:37 pm

Back around the late 1970s I once saw a member of the Hare Krishna sect eating a Big Mac by the side of a building. No fries or Coke though.


16 people like this
Posted by Don't Get Shanghai'd @ PF Changs
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm

>> I size up a Chinese restaurant by the number of Chinese diners actually having dinner there.

FYI...PF Chang's is opening up one of their famed 'China bistros' in Shanghai later this year. It's probably targeted towards American tourists & business people who happen to be passing through town (and don't know any better) as corporate owner ConAgra is hardly known for its gourmet cuisine.

Kind of like opening up a Pizza Hut in Florence.


14 people like this
Posted by Danville Expatriate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2018 at 5:35 pm

> ...corporate owner ConAgra is hardly known for its gourmet cuisine.

PF Chang's is the most popular Chinese restaurant in the Walnut Creek/Pleasanton area (two convenient locations to serve you).

Danville locals go there for a unique taste of China. Go figure.


2 people like this
Posted by R. Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2018 at 6:56 pm

QUOTE: Back around the late 1970s I once saw a member of the Hare Krishna sect eating a Big Mac by the side of a building.

That would have made a memorable pic...a vegan monk sneaking off to have a hamburger. *L*


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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