May 18, 2009

Brought back memories...


After all the hard work from serving Meals on Wheels San Francisco, almost all chefs partied at Tim's Yuet Lee once again before his last day today!

Watching how everybody was there for Tim, signing a chef jacket from Sam Choy, wishing him the best wishes... It sure brought back memories for me on the last weekend of Furenzu! When all my friends and customers came in for the one last time, a band offered to play, songs they played for me and so many cries and moments with all my customers and friends, my mother came and helped out... I felt it for Tim!

I sure miss you all!

October 13, 2008

Sure miss that!

June 20, 2008

Big THANK YOU from Restaurant Furenzu

My staff and I would like to thank you all for all the supports and love from you for the last 3 years! You all have been so great to us and we can never thank you enough. It has been my greatest pleasure to have met and became friends with most of you, and to be able to share my passion of food with you all. Sadly we will be closing by the end of June. Rumor was I am working on a new project, yes I am; but it's a little too early to announce. I will sure keep you posted.

I was very fortunate to have met couple members of the band, "That Man Fantastic"; last friday night when they were dining at Restaurant Furenzu! When they found out I'm closing the restaurant, Stephen; the lead singer and Marco; the lead guitarist offer to play for us on our last day! So this coming Sunday, "That Man Fantastic" will be at Restaurant Furenzu to celebrate friendships that I have made throughout this three years! So come see us this weekend.

While some of you had already experienced my private fix menu dining, I'll keep you on the private dining mailing list as I will still be offering 6-8 course tasting dinners. And if you haven't yet but are interested in joining that mailing list, please reply to this message or feel free to contact me at Private dining is for 8-10 people. And I'll forward the information for how to make reservations.

Again THANK YOU all, see you over the weekend and looking forward to serving you again in the near future!

Last but not least, let me share with you messages that you all had left for me throughout the years. You all had made me feel very special and I'll treasure always! Take care you all and looking forward to be serving you again in the near future!

Cynthia & staff

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May 7, 2008

Thank you!

I think I had finally finished either calling or emailing back to all my customers/friends who had sent their thoughts to us after the robbery. I just want to take this entry and express my deepest thanks again to all of you!

It means so much to all of us at the restaurant to receive all the love and cares. It was also a wonderful feeling to know we have such a strong community! Old friends stopped by, called or emailed. My regulars have been coming in to support us in an even more regular basis. Then there are more new customers came in, "We saw you on the news, this is our first time dining here and we just want to come show you some supports!"

I just can't express all my feelings in words. How frightening it was during the robbery, and now how touched we are receiving all love and supports from all of you. So here...

...My deepest thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you! Thank you and see you all at the restaurant!

April 27, 2008

"Create a buzz" he said.

One Friday evening; a regular customer of mine brought a group of friends in for dinner. He was early and I sat down to chat with him for a bit while he was waiting for the rest of his group. We both agreed that my location is somewhat hidden and certainly not very noticeable for people who were even driving by. We were trying to figure out what kind of marketing could I do to bring people in with my limited budget. Specifically he said, "you need to create a buzz!" How?

Just a few days after that on the 16th. That's when that buzz came in! I was standing in the dining room entertaining couple customers by the window table, two guys walked into the restaurant. They made a very quiet and mellow entry but one of them was holding a gun and announced, "Nobody move and take all your money out."

I couldn't believe what had just happened. I saw that a lot in movies or news, but it's real in my restaurant! Until today, I still can't remember if my heart was pounding at the moment or was it stopped?

Restaurant has no cash! Seriously, I wish there would be more cash, but these days everyone pay by credit cards. We were actually lucky that we had about $120 in cash that night. They didn't believe we didn't have anymore cash nor have a safe in the back. One of them took my manager to the back and all I could hear in the dining room was just how he screamed about killing him if he wouldn't show him where the safe was! All I could feel at that moment was helpless. Nothing I could do while I couldn't move or wasn't allowed to.

The whole take over took about 3-5 minutes. However that was the longest 3-5 minutes I had in my life. Life sure flashed in front of my eyes. When you hear from others talking about how they got up from their death bed, how people survived from serious illnesses like cancer, or car accidents...etc. How these people talked about they changed their attitude toward living life. I acknowledged their statements, but was never able to relate to what they were talking about. I might have thought then, I was already living life, quite fully too...

Haven't I? Jumped from a comfortable life to taking the biggest chance in my life to fulfill my dream. How many people even know what they want in their life? I even said I could then die with no regret. However when the moment was there, then you realized there're still a lot I could do I haven't lived enough yet! And I can do better, and live an even more meaningful life!

February 19, 2008

Valentine's Dinner

Thanks to all my extra helps again, we had a very successful night on Valentine's Day! So let me share some of the courses we had that night...

Each couple were offered with a shrimp and vegetable consommé, a "hug & kiss": sea salt crusted radish and salt & pepper chili after they're seated. And for those who ordered the tasting menu, two different Rosé Brut were sent to them in addition for a toss.

Every course was pair with wine for the classic tasting and sake for the exotic tasting. The first course for the classic tasting was a "Sesame crusted Ahi tuna salad with ginger sesame soy dressing" while the exotic tasting got the "Sea cucumber & fennel salad with citrus & mustard dressing".
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Then second courses were "Roasted chestnut & mushroom soup with truffle honey" and "Traditional Chinese ginseng & chicken herbal soup".
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Finally the main course were "Oven grilled duck breast w/ goji berries couscous in demi-glace" and "Black mushroom & Chinese ham stuffed quail baked in clay"

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Since the night of the Valentine's day was so crazily busy, we did a "re-run" the following night, so that we could video taped the quail and how we served that. Of course also hopefully to let you see how much fun our guests had on the night!

Lastly dessert! It's a dessert trio consisted of "Persimmon sorbet w/ organic ginger liqueur", "French rose Tiramisu" and "Layered carmel & chocolate cake w/ Cointreau marscapone cream". Some asked me why was I serving the rose tiramisu again this year? I wasn't planning on it until the week before when I found out "tiramisu" actually means "pick me up"! So how could I not then? However I serve it in a different way this year in a martini glass.

Thanks again to all my extra helps! Craig Roby, my guest chef; wouldn't have done it without him! Patty Chu and Auntie Maureen, my last minute called-in help; they certainly had been a great help in the dining room! Last but not least, my regular staff & all of you who continuously supporting the restaurant! Special thanks to those couples who made this their 2nd or even 3rd year celebrating their Valentine's night at the restaurant! You all sure made me felt very special! Thank you!

January 9, 2008


Happy New Year to you all! Yes it's been a while again. First my server was down. No, not the server at the restaurant, the server from the hosting company of my site. How interesting as I type to realize the same terminologies were used in different industries! ;) "Host", "Server"... what else? I know sometimes when I'm working with my staff and when they complain about something wasn't working, that's when I say, "Well, would that be users' error?" The good old computer days...

Well after the server problem was solved, we were busy doing promotions and marketing for the holidays, then we had 4 attempted burglaries! FOUR!? In less than a month! That's just crazy! Everyone knows there's nothing to steal in a restaurant. For sure there's no cash! Only thing I could have thought of was we got a big shipment for wine...about 20-30 cases? However as soon as those cases got dropped off at the restaurant, it didn't even get inside and was already put into another car and driven away. So if someone really was watching, they should have seen that too?

The first attempt was on the 15th of Dec, right after a big private party. They tried to ply open the door and the padlock. Broke some of the wood from the door and bent the handle bar to the door. But that was it. Second attempt was 3 days later on the 18th. This time they brought a cutter and cut the padlock. Almost got the door open, thanks to the strong deadbolt. Guess must be someone came by or something happened that scared them away.

After this we put in a shielded lock that they just can't cut. We also removed everything out of the restaurant. Including all the wine since we were closed from the 24th - 1st. On the 30th, I went into the restaurant to cook for a party, that's when I found all my locks got super glue in them! This is just wrong! So they're actually targeting my restaurant! Nothing we could do but to uninstall all the locks and replaced them. On the 5th, they're back again, cut the padlock, couldn't get the big one, broke my door handle again, and probably got so mad and kicked the door? So this time they cracked my glass door.

We now have a camera installed. I just want to see who was that, so desperate to get into my restaurant!? It's because I don't think he's trying just to break in to steal anymore but to prove a point that he could get in. It's more like a vandalism now! This is just so wrong! However I always say, it got to have someone like that out there to make us appreciate who we are and what a good person we are sometimes! Only if they use those energy and build something rather than break something, they actually could be quite successful! I really want to see who that was? NO! PLEASE DON'T COME BACK!

August 7, 2007

Tasting dinner

So I was asked to cook a tasting dinner, and I was also asked to make sure I would serve foie gras! Therefore I did a 10-course dinner with wine pairing. Was a lot of fun! And who knows the following week I was asked again to cook another tasting dinner but this time 6-course, with both sake and wine pairing. Here're some samples from the two evenings! Enjoy and if you're interested in hosting any, please feel free to contact me and I'll work with your budget and choice of food!

Software shell crab and homegrown cherry tomato salad:

Foie Gras with poached pear and lychee puree in port demi-glace:

Pan grilled Kompachi in lemon soy glaze with avocado & mango salsa:

Oven grilled lamb chop with cilantro rice:

Avocado and mango salad with cilantro and hot chill oil:

Oven grilled duck breast in cognac and orange ginger reduction:

July 29, 2007

2nd Anniversary

Thanks to you all!! My staff, my dearest friends and family! Good old friends that I haven't seen for couple years that surprised me and showed up at the party! Joe Kaline's band, all my great, loyal and awesome supportive customers! My generous wine suppliers for their sponsorship and Craig Roby as our guest chef! Last but not least Jane, who was forced to change her ticket by us to stay for the party. How dare she came back from the east coast to visit family but not stay for Furenzu's anniversary party!?

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Click on the follow pictures to check out some of the actions of the day! ;)
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For more pictures, please visit: Furenzu's 2nd Anniversary at Flickr.

Sake tasting back in June

After all the requests for another sake tasting, we organized it again in June. We've got a good crowd signed up and paid for the tasting. However when the night came, we got a bunch of calls apologizing they couldn't make it at the last minute. I felt really bad for those who couldn't show up but paid already. So if you still have your receipts, I would like to make an exception and honor it for your next event! Thank you for your supports after all!

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May 23, 2007

So...who is he?

About a year ago, I had blog about a day off that I toolk: "What a day." There I mentioned how Vivian and I were benefited from someone who didn't pay at a restaurant. Yesterday finally was my turn.

A guy came into the restaurant, probably in his 60s. He claimed to be the owner of Mexicali Rose, just had a massage, trying to get a break from his bodyguard. He just wanted some sake. He said he heard of my name and my restaurant for sometime. He knew how hard it was to start a restaurant, therefore he's here to help me out. He wanted to give me a $2000 gift, not to bribe me, nothing gangs related, but just a "welcome to the neighborhood" gift, he said.

Next thing, he wanted to borrow $20 from me. I told Simon, no charity from us, no gift from him and gave him the tab. So that's the time when he ran out from the restaurant, and didn't pay.

I feel bad for the guy actually. I don't think he is the owner of MexiCali Rose, not now. However I wonder if he might have been the original owner some years ago? Would there be something happened to him at some point that caused him so..."confused"? That caused him to live in his imaginary world?

However tough we think our lives are, aren't we still the fortunate one?

September 7, 2006

Where's Cynthia?

Lots of people started asking, "What happened to your blog? Haven't seen any new updates lately!" Here's what happened...

Back in the beginning of August, one of my cooks left, so Cynthia has to cook everyday in the kitchen. While Jane left to NY already, we're short handed in both the front and the back. Followed by Cynthia just moved since mid-August, though not much but her bed and a few furnitures only and she still has oh maybe 70% of her stuff that needs to be moved...any volunteers? She has no internet connections yet while the phone company couldn't find her address. That's why there's no new blog. Sorry....

A quick fix....maybe I'll just put up some pictures to show you what has been happening:

Cynthia disappeared a lot into the kitchen:

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Still working on the move...partially done, just like the shelves, but check out who's posing!

On top of everything, yes Cynthia's car got broken in, and now after 3 weeks, it's still in the shop! :(

August 20, 2006

First Proposal!

So I got a call from Khanh right before I went into the restaurant. "Peter called," he said, "he's coming in at around 6:30pm and wanted to reserve the window table." "What did you say?" I asked. "Well, I told him it's a little hard on a Sat." "What!? Whatever Peter wants you have to give it to him! He's been great to the restaurant and a great supporter." Well, afterall Khanh did reserve the table for him because Peter told him he's going to pop the question!

What an honor to the restaurant and to myself! I couldn't believe of all restaurants in the bay area and there are so many more romantic restaurants, and he picked mine! I'm definitely honored. Of course I called for my emergency help right away, Josephine. I wanted to do something special for him, even though he had only given me half an hour notice!

Immediately I had to get the flowers ready at his table, and had Josephine ran to the bakery to get a cake... We're just all so happy for him!

After he proposed and of course after Tammy said yes, we offered champagne to all customers and raised our glasses for a toss to them!

We're all so happy for you, Peter! To the best and blessings from our hearts!



July 17, 2006


Right before I chopped up the roast pig at the party, Elizabeth said, "Speech!" I wasn't planning on a speech, though I did want to say thanks! However not unless everybody got a glass of wine or champagne or sitting down. It's because it would have taken a loooooong time! How could I ever say enough "thanks" to all my friends!? Without them, definitely without Furenzu! So I'm going to take adventage of this blog, and for you readers, you may want to get yourself a drink or a snack!

IMG_6492.jpg First I have to always go back to the root of this whole chain: Josephine! When I moved to the East bay 8 years ago, she was the one who invited me to her family, encourage me to cook...and cook MORE. It's good that her family are a household of food lovers, so that I can forever experiment on. Her parents, Tito Alex and Tita Leila; her sisters, Lourdes and Elizabeth; they have been great supporters of my life for the last 8 years. They had shared all my joys and tears. Doesn't matter of what happened to me, their arms and their doors are always open! I can never ever thank them enough. I am so blessed to have them as my family here in the State. When restaurants have parties, they have to hire extra helps. For me, the family is always there, from getting the flowers ready, the tables set, the food preparations, cooking and placing the plate to even making dessert, this family can do it all!

Auntie Maureen, you are the kindest person on earth! You have such a big heart, how could I not love you!? Okay I do admit I got annoyed sometimes by what you called "long gas" in Chinese, or our differences in opinions sometimes, but I just want you to know, you're always in my thoughts.

IMG_6565.jpg Jean, you are always the best listener! From I was at CfMC to now. "Have I been telling you lately that you ARE still my favorite (ex)co-worker!?" I can't believe you haven't run out of your patience yet listening to all my bitches and sorrows, but it's always delightful to hear your smile over the phone when you could feel my joy. And thank you for bringing Bob over to help out at the party! I was worried about no one will be taking any pictures for the party, but Bob did a wonderful job!

Furenzu Ist Year 132.jpg Viv, you're always there for me since the restaurant opened. I know you're now on a new mission with your new job, so I'll give you a break. However we all miss you being here, I miss having you around in the house! My house plants are not doing well now that you're not there to water them. And sure enough I am lost without my "palm" "pilot"!

My staff:

IMG_6563.jpg Jane, you are god sent on my opening day. Since then, your loyalty and your friendship! What have I done to deserve such a GREAT co-worker! I wish you the best with your new job in New York. Have a blast while you're there, but don't forget your family here in the west coast!

IMG_6508.jpg Coco & Jose, they are the hidden one in the kitchen. They do all the "dirty" works, they take care of everything that no one wants to do. From cleaning the restroom, the storage, the dumpest, just simply everything, washing dishes, sweeping and mopping to learning my recipes and cook. They are the easiest forgotten ones, the least thankful one because not many people would remember them. However I do and always, because they are the hardest working ones! Please...a big applause to them!

Furenzu Ist Year 036.jpg Khanh, you are the MAN. Okay, not when it comes to the tools...still. ;) You definitely have helped me a lot since you came on board. You have taken up many of my responsibilities and taken off loads from my shoulder. I hope you're enjoying the "pressure" that you have taken on and do feel that you could learn than just a job. I hope you can still smile and say, "yeah!" at the end of the day. Without you, I wouldn't been able to make it to Italy in May. A big pat on your shoulder for yourself and for sure a bigger pat from me! "Thank you!"

Furenzu Ist Year 025.jpg Henry, you are a sweet heart. Always provide us endless entertainment by being the center of a good tease, and you are such a good sport. Keep up with your good work at school and I have faith in you and I know you can reach anywhere you want to be!

A big toast to my staff, for their hard work and good job...okay except those minor moments ;) However for them to suck up my moments... I raise my glass to them!

My customers:

IMG_6474.jpg Adam from the right. He was at the restaurant 3 days in a row the first week he discovered us, so how could one forget about him? He loves our sake, everytime he came in, he would try different sake-big flask too! Then he tried very hard to keep me around by introducing many of his friends to the restaurant, like Robin; the second from the left. They are just lovely and sure are big supporters of Furenzu!

Furenzu Ist Year 097.jpg Then came Peter! He was the man that my server admired so much and would asked, "How could he manage to bring a different date every week?" Not only that, he brought me many customers, and parties reservations for the holiday season last year. He had definitely became a furenzu as I wrote about before, providing me a pair of ears over our bottle of sake. I'm just very happy for you, Peter that you are happy and found your love!

To be continue...

July 15, 2006

Alright...and soon!

So I've been getting calls and emails, "When are you going to update your blog? You didn't even upload any new pictures!?"

I'm all my dear and loyal readers. I don't have any (more) excuses, because my excuses would have been, "I am so busy getting the anniversary party together, working on the anniversary menu...etc." So now that the party was over, the menu was set, it would just simply be I'm lazy and my mind just needed just some time off. But guess I really can't put it off any more, so I promise, in the next couple of days(hopefully) or most, within this week, I WILL put something up! :)

Come back soon!

May 6, 2006


Last night I was having a discussion with one of my regular customers, Robin; about business hours. There were times after I closed, I tried to rush to the city to catch a bite at some restaurants before they closed. However many times when I walked in, I didn't get much service and then eventually someone came over and told me, "The kitchen was closed already, sorry."

My rule for my restaurant is if I said I close at 10PM, I will serve any customers who walk in at 10PM. And there was one time I forgot to turn off the "open" sign. Couple customers pulled their car right in front at around 10:15PM, I served them.

I just don't understand how could a business said they closed at 10PM, but wouldn't take customers before that? Then shouldn't you advertise closing at 9:30PM if you really want to walk out the restaurant by 10PM?

Sure enough, I went to this Korean restaurant at the corner of MacArther and Telegraph after having the discussion with Robin. As soon as we were seated at about 10:15PM, the server told us they're closing at 11PM. I acknowledged it. 10 minutes later, when we were ready to order, she told us again that they'll be closed at 11PM. I was a little bothered by it. I started wondering, what did you mean by that? Wanting me to get out of your restaurant by 11PM? However she didn't bring the food to us until 10:50PM, so do you really expect me to finish everything in 10 minutes, paid and get out of the door?

I noticed that server was new, and I may give this restaurant a second chance before I can find another place that made my ginseng chicken soup better! However I really believe for people who are in the restaurant business should really honor the hours that they put on their sign!


April 15, 2006

Happy Birthday again John!

Tomorrow is John Fricke's (our Emeryville city councel) birthday! However it was our honor to be able to host his birthday party for him last Sunday.

He had a party of 21 people. We did a 3-course dinner with champagne and Hor 'doeuvres. It should be an easy party for me especially they wanted to start at 5:30pm on a Sunday, while I didn't have lunch, and had the whole morning to prepare. However I was a little nervous.

I think it was because of everything that had happened to me recently and it was right after my computer got stolen. I was feeling a bit lost. On top of that, I twisted my ankle the night before and had to go to my doctor to get it looked at and wrapped up that morning. I just prayed to please have a smooth operation, and no more accidents!

Vivian and I got into the restaurant around 1pm after shopping for food. Lourdes and Josephine showed up at around 2:30pm, Elizabeth came at around 4:30pm. When we found out we were out of decaf coffee, they called dad(father of Lourdes, Josephine and Elizabeth's) and dad said, "don't worry, I'll bring in right away from home."

When they were all at the restaurant, I felt safe, and I felt things would be so fine! I always think, what have I done to deserve all these good people around me, who so dedicate themselves to me and who love me so dearly and unconditionally!? Anything happened to me, I can just so count on them and they're always the first one to show up to embrace me! I am so blessed to have them!

Lourdes as usual, did the flower arrangements, and set the tables. Josephine helped me in the kitchen, Elizabeth-the dessert, and Viv still held her title well-the CFO-Chief Floating Officer! I think we did really well with the party but wish I had taken better pictures.

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Unfortunately my camera was broken from when my computer got stolen. While the screen was broken, I couldn't set any functions and couldn't quite tell what I was taking. These are the best I could do, hope you like it John! Again Happy Birthday and thank you so much to let us host your party! Will see you soon at the restaurant and be sure to let me know before you come, so that I can get the squid ready for Lane! Watching your girls eat, sure bring smiles on my face! Thank you!

April 8, 2006


So far this hasn't been a very good month for me. Many things had happened and made me feel my trust, my faith and my space were so being violated/intruded.

On 4-5-2006, I was working on my computer at the reception desk. It was about 9:15-9:30pm, only one table left which was our regular, Peter and his friends. I walked into the kitchen to give some instructions to my staff. In that less than 5 minutes, someone stormed into the restaurant and yanked my Powerbook from my desk. Peter looked up, saw that and started screaming. I came out from the kitchen, the guy and with two other guys who were together already ran around the corner of 40th Street heading east. Peter and I jumped into my car right away hoping to follow them. No luck. They were long gone.

I always feel if someone needed to steal from me, because they needed that more than I. That's alright. Nothing can't be replaced. However this time! No one needed those data more than I! I'm offering $1500 cash reward for whoever bring the data back to me! No question ask! Take the computer afterwards if you want. Let me back up my data!

I was filled with energies and vibrant when I started the restaurant, and have been able to carry myself like that to this far, but now I'm really feeling a bit crashed. For those who needed to steal, are you really that desperate? For those who trashed someone's faith and trust, are you really that selfish and thoughtless?


Finally the sun was peeking through the next day. I dragged a friend of mine to have a drink at the Paragon at the Claremont hotel. I just needed to be out to have some sun and air. Looking at the clear city view, I started thinking: I need something to bring my energy back! Thank goodness for all my friends! And I thank my parents! They had raised me well. I had my desperate times, but if I have that kind of courage to violate someone's space, or trash someone's faith, why not take that courage to face the challenge and build something for yourself? They are really the best!

April 4, 2006

Peter Linde


Peter Linde is a dear customer who turned into another dear furenzu! He has been coming to the restaurant since pretty much we opened, and he's a very loyal customer who comes almost at least once a week. Very soon he joined our chef table and became a furenzu than just a customer.

He has brought in so many of his furenzu, introduced me to many great people, and sure brought me lots of business. He is the owner/partner of The Linde Group. It would be a blessing to work for him. If you're looking for a job, you may want to check this out or write to his company directly: Consulting Manager

We were having a conversion and he told me most people who watched the "Daily show" from comedy central are mostly people who aware of what's really going on with the nation/world? So we decided to do a poll about it. Therefore please feel free to comment on this and hopefully we'll have a final count in 10 days and find out if the statement is true!?

Hey Peter, thank you so much for coming in tonight, keeping me company and becoming such a dear furenzu for me!

April 2, 2006

Ben Fong-Torres


About a month ago, I got a message on a weekend from someone who said to have worked in the old restaurant of my loacation. When I returned the message, then I found out it was Ben Fong-Torres!

He told me he used to work at Moon's Chinese Kitchen, the previous restaurant at my current location; when he was in high school. He had also written about it in his book "The Rice Room"

We finally met last night at the restaurant where he stopped by for dinner with his wife, Dianne; and generously brought me a copy of his autographed book! It was very nice to learn about stories of the old restaurant and when he was working there.

It sure was my pleasure to meet you and your wife Ben, please come back soon and tell more stories!

March 11, 2006

Another night of good food and good furenzu


This is another night full of fun for all of us! Last week, we talked about we haven't had hot pot for awhile. Therefore we decided it's about time for another night of fun food at the restaurant. Turned out it's a perfect night to do hot pot while it's so cold out.

So who were the gang this time? The usual suspects of course, Josephine, Elizabeth, Vivian, Tony; plus couple "strangers", Karin and Ada Ormsby, the owner of the loft next door.

It was a slow night to start with. We thought, it must have been because of the rain and the hail... Vivian and I were in the kitchen preparing the food for the hot pot. We were joking about as soon as we started the hot pot, customers would start to come in to make us gave up our table. Sure enough, as we finished putting out the food, my staff came in and asked, "do you have to reserve your table?" Well for this night, yes we had to. However we were still be able to accommodate all the customers and only one couple had to wait for about 5-10 minutes. So we only had one rush last night, but it was still a pretty good night.

We all had a wonderful time and my stuff started their hot pot shortly before closing. So far we had pasta, hot pot, let's see what will it be next time!?

March 4, 2006

Old "furenzu"

Other than the stress, the frustrations of continuous problems, all the expected and unexpected issues... I really love this restaurant more day after day!

It brings all my friends together, a place for them to hang out, to see everybody weekly, a place to meet new friends and definitely a place to bring back my old time friends!

When I opened the restaurant back in July last year. I decided to do a pre-opening dinner, just to test run the kitchen and a rehearsal for my staff. Sure enough, it wasn't a day that I expected. The diswasher didn't show up, my chef helper called in sick, and the front was sure not ready! Thank goodness, all my customers from that day were all my friends and ex-coworkers. And I was very lucky that a friend of mine, Karin's parents who used to have a restaurant in Holland before they retired were in town. Took them less than a second, they had already rolled up their sleeves and positioned themselves in the kitchen. Auntie Maureen, who had the reservation at 7:30pm; found herself behind the counter and hosting. Toward the end of the night, couple other friends of mine who also have restaurants, Kiet Cheung & Christopher Cheung stopped by, found out my problems, called and found helpers for me right away for my opening day. It was a great learning experience that day and I was so glad I did that!

On the opening day, we only served hors d'oeuvres. What surprised me was many old friends of mine all showed up! Joe Kaline with his band, and played in front of the restaurant! Sure caught many attentions from the locals who drove by. Cecilia Chiang and Bill Carbonel, what an honor! Of course my cousins, Alex and Francis; who flew in far from Hong Kong! Curtis and Christina Silbermann, old time friends that I haven't seen for years! And they came again last week with their kids! They were all grown and I only wish I had taken a picture with them that night! And of course many others...

The restaurant makes me feel I'm so blessed, with all my friends, and I'm so lucky to have them all! I thank my parents for that! They must have raised me well that I got to be some what a decent person to deserve all these friends!? ;) "Thank you, mommy & daddy!"

February 19, 2006

Review from San Francisco Chronicle!

The morning before Valentine's day on Monday, I got a call from Khanh from the restaurant, telling me a woman, Carol Ness; called about a write up from SF Chronicle. "Oh my God!" When did she come and how did I do? I wondered...

I couldn't quite called her back yet. I needed some food in my system first before I fainted in the middle of the conversation. Tony and I were actually just about to go to Cafe Fanny for breakfast. So we decided we would have breakfast first, or at least some coffee before calling her back.

I called her right after breakfast. She asked me lots of questions. I guessed she liked my food? She sounded very nice and very "real", just like a friend one could have! After an about 15 minutes conversations where I mostly answered to questions that she had, before we heng up, I asked her should I be worried? "Oh no, not at all." she old me. However how could you not!?

I called all my friends right away and told them about the news! We were all very exciting and antipating for Friday to come. It's going to be a loooooong week!

Friday finally came. And God loves to play jokes! While I was driving Tony to bart super early that morning, we stopped on our way as we saw one of those newspaper box. We picked up couple papers, waited the whole time as I was driving, so that we could read together. We parked and opened the paper... What!? It's Thursday's paper! Tony ran into the station and picked up another one, ran back to the car(thank goodness he's a runner), and we read silently...

I guess I just didn't know what to react!? I remembered I was very quiet. Was it real? That I was on the paper? My restaurant was on the paper? Me of all people? Someone who barely knows what she's doing? Who's nobody in this industry? Who only has a restaurant that's merely 7 months old? And it was a pretty good review too!

I must say credits go to all my friends and my staff! Thank you for making this happen for me!


Continue reading "Review from San Francisco Chronicle!" »

A real Furenzu day!

It was a great success on Valentine's day! Big thanks to all my staff and my friends, who came in and help out that day! Our gross was 3 times of our maybe busiest Friday. And I think people had fun, "the place's very festive and warm", said one of our customers!

It was a hard day for my staff, running a new demanding menu, 5-course classic and exotic chef menu with wine and sake matching. This is very new for them and with this demanding boss requesting them to provide a at least 3 stars restaurant service... They deserved a big round of applause!

Then here came my friends who all helped out again! Elizabeth started two days ago, testing and starting to make the chocolate ganache mini cakes. Tony started the night before and made the pasta, then came in again around 6pm on the day and became my assistant cook! At first he didn't quite know how to move around in the kitchen and was pretty much in everybody's way, but very soon he was on the stove already and was a fast learner, making pasta, quail, flank steak, soft shell crab, eggroll, and placing salad and ceviche! Wow! Did he do that much!?

As usual, there's Lourdes and all the beautiful flower arrangements. I'm sure everyone loves it. And when it got really busy, she was in charged behind the counter to play host and calculating all my tickets! She did such a great job and was able not to turn a single table away even some people has to wait for close to 45 mins! I had no idea this would get so hectic, therefore I had told Vivian to dress up and enjoy herself in the front and maybe help out in the dining room. What was I thinking? Our chef tables were splited into two since 5:30 and were filled at no time. I had to call her in to help me in the kitchen afterall. She and Josephine then in charged of the bar and made all the sake and soju cocktails and coffee.

vivian&michael.jpg During all these crazy actions, and at the peak of 8:00PM, a photographer from San Francisco Chronicle came in to do a photo shoot for our review! We were all so excited and couldn't wait until Friday to come when it would be published!

Nobody was able to leave before 12:30AM and for myself it was close to 1:30AM when I could finally locked the door while Tony was snoring on the bench.

I owe you all for this! Truly appreciated all of your friendships and all efforts from my staff! This was our first year, though it was not as organized and well planned as I wish, it came together at last, and it's all because of everybody had put their hearts into the restaurant!

Deep from my heart... THANK YOU! And love you!

Continue reading "A real Furenzu day!" »

February 14, 2006


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Finally I pulled the menu together and tried a few items last night on the gang. One of the items on the exotic menu is Pan Roasted Quail on Wasabi pasta with soba sauce. Since Tony made such wonderful pasta last time at the restaurant, I asked Tony to help me make the pasta. He's so nice to also trying to get off early to get to the restaurant by 5PM to help me on Valentine's day, he told me he'll have to sleep early the night before in order to leave and go to work at 4:30AM.

He tried his 1st batch of pasta at the restaurant, and it tasted quite good. We were then trying to figure out when could we make the rest of them? We decided to make it in his house, otherwise it'd be too risky to make it after his work day.

We added quite a bit of wasabi powder into the flour to make the pasta. During the whole process, we both cried and cried for our nose! That's right, it's the wasabi! I'll be honest that at one point while Tony was working on the pasta, I was working on the computer, finalizing the menu and then... I fell asleep. I didn't think he knew about that and must have thought I was working so hard like him!

It was already 1AM when Tony was kneading the dough, and it's a lot of them! By the time we started cutting the rolled out pasta sheet, it's already closed to 3AM. I felt really bad but also very appreciative to Tony's help. However the poor guy wouldn't be able to have any rest before driving to work. To keep himself stay awake, he started singing, and talking... "Okay, half an hour, we'll finish it in half an hour by 3:30AM, then I can still have an hour sleep!"; "'s killing me! The wasabi!"; then more singing, and then more "The wasabi! Is killing me!"

The next thing we found ourselves started singing... (from the tunes of "Killing me softly with his song"): Dah dah dah dah(we couldn't quite put the words together at the beginning).... killing me softly, wasabi, killing me softly...wasabi! Dah dah dah....

We looked at the clock and it's 3:24AM! What was Cynthia and Tony doing at 3:24AM on Valentine's Day 2006? Cutting pasta and singing "Killing me softly wasabi!"

And why am I blogging at 6AM? I better get back to bed and get couple more hours sleep!

February 10, 2006

Oh yes, fresh pasta

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Back in 2001, it was the week after 911. Philip Chiang, Cecilia's son; opened his new restaurant Lucky Duck in Los Angelas. However due to the 911 incident, no one could fly out. Therefore Cecilia and I drove down for the opening.

During that trip, as usual Cecelia took me to many other restaurants and introduced me to all chefs. One of the highlight was to have the kitchen tour at Spago, Beverly Hills and met with Chef Woofgang Puck. He was telling me a story of Spago and Cecelia. It was some kind of event that many chefs were invited to cook and dine together at Spago, where they already had the menu set for. However at the last minute, Woofgang decided, "let's cook Chinese!" How fun was that! I love that passion of cooking, the spontaneous, and the creativities! That's how I feel about myself too most time.

Back in January, one evening; we did the same thing at Furenzu! The gang came over for dinner as usual. And we decided, let's have pasta! So Tony in charged of making all fresh pasta and hand rolled them all himself, while I prepared the salmon with dill and thyme, and a herbs and organic greens salad with blue cheese, pear and walnut. We tossed the pasta with basil, sweet baby peppers and a mixed of wild mushrooms including golden chanterelle and extra fancy button Shitake. It was a really nice meal. We all had fun and we need to do that more often! Wondering what will that be next? ;)

February 9, 2006

The regulars

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If you come to the restaurant enough, you may have met some of my "furenzus" already. From the left, Lourdes(as many of my customers would say, "Oh you're the chips!"), Josephine, Vivian and myself :)

Vivian usually hides in the kitchen, because she finds it very therapeutic to work in the kitchen from her regular demanding, fast pace Mon-Fri software sales job. Therefore you can find her in the kitchen from most Fri nights to Sun nights. Or when you see her on the floor will be because we got too many people in the kitchen already and she would be doing what she calls "the floater". Thanks Viv! She's been a great friend and great help to me since the restaurant open.

Lourdes and Josephine, my good friends and family who have taken me in to many of their family functions, celebrations and parties as I was their youngest sister! Can't thank that family enough!! Most of my flower arrangements are from Lourdes...only not when she's running around for her kids too much. And Josephine, we had spent so much time together since I moved to the east bay! She's the 1st link to everything. She brought me into the family, always takes care of me, especially when I'm not in town. Furenzu wouldn't happen without this family!

You'll find them every Fri nights at the restaurant at the "chef's table" we would call! Well, some weeknights too when they're bored, or when they need a "drink".

So please feel free to come by and say hi to them. They're the easiest going, funniest and kindest people. I'm sure you'll have fun and a good chat with them!

February 8, 2006

Finally a blog for Furenzu!!

Many thanks to Tony! Restaurant Furenzu finally has its own blog!

I'm so excited! Not that I'm a good writer(I'm sure I can easily prove this as you started reading), but I just love to share my thoughts, my experiences and my moments of this dream place of mine! Hope you all enjoy what you read from here and please come back often(also to the restaurant!)