Chinese favourites at Man Fu Yuan BKK

It isn't just in the US that finding decent Chinese food in nice clean surroundings is a tough task. When you think of Chinese food in Bangkok, it's either super expensive Thai sharksfin restaurants or the dodgy ramshackle stalls in Yaowarat.

Despite Thailand's culinary history evolving from Chinese immigrants, there were never any who landed on the country's shores and went on to build an empire of dim sum eateries.

Crystal Jade is probably closest, with at least five eateries in the Thai capital.

If you're a fan of Man Fu Yuan in Singapore, you'll find your favourite dim sum in northern Bangkok where its namesake has opened in the luxury premises of Rajpruek Golf Club.

When the owners of Thai conglomerate TCC Group chose to open their own authentic Chinese restaurant in its exclusive sports club, they went to Singapore and hired Patrick Ng, the long-time manager of Man Fu Yuan in the Intercontinental Singapore hotel - which is also owned by the group.

"Thais are still not used to traditional Cantonese cuisine, which is why I use the word 'CanThainese' to describe our food", says Mr Ng, who is now TCC's food and beverage consultant. "Most of the rich Chinese are Teochew so we tweaked the cuisine to suit their taste buds - it's not traditional Cantonese food."

Opening a restaurant in Bangkok has its challenges, namely the language, "but with a bit of time, our Thai staff can speak a bit of Cantonese and my Malaysian chef has learned some Thai". Pricing hasn't been a problem as the target clientele is well-heeled, and sourcing for ingredients isn't an issue either as everything is readily available in Chinatown. But one thing the chefs have had to get used to is to stop using MSG in their cooking.

"Most chefs in Thailand cook with MSG, so when I stopped using it, my Thai chefs were shocked!" laughs Mr Ng.

Singaporeans who eat at Man Fu Yuan will find little difference in the food despite the tweaks.

The dim sum (which you can have at night too) is very good, from the comforting char siew paos, excellent ham sui kok (fried glutinous rice dumplings stuffed with minced meat)and piquant Szechuan dumplings.

Also good is the rib-sticking shark cartilage soup, fried carrot cake with bean sprouts, and plain duck egg noodles blanched and tossed in a simple soy sauce mixture.

If you go, nip over to the club's coffee house Delish, which serves a mean Thai beef noodle soup, along with a fragrant, slightly herbal duck noodle soup with the addition of duck's blood cakes.

"There's still room for expansion," says Mr Ng.

"Look at famous Chinese restaurant such as Ah Yat Abalone, Crystal Jade and Din Tai Fung. A lot of tourists like Thai food but they also miss Cantonese food. And the Thais themselves are curious about it. They may not be used to "authentic" Cantonese cuisine, so it's our job to slowly change the way they enjoy their food."

Man Fu Yuan

Rajpruek Club, 100 Moo 3, Vibhavadi-Rangsit Rd, Thung Song Hong, Laksi, Bangkok 10210

Tel: 02-955-0403

This article was first published on December 20, 2014.
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