Fus on Third 

After a brief hiatus, Parco Café reopens—with shorter hours

After going dark for nearly a month-and-a-half, the lights are back on in Parco Café, and Tsuo Chuan and Chun Fu are back in their Printers Alley basement serving up some of the best food in town.
After going dark for nearly a month-and-a-half, the lights are back on in Parco Café, and Tsuo Chuan and Chun Fu are back in their Printers Alley basement serving up some of the best food in town. Anyone who knows the Fus knows that every now and then they lock the door and head out of town—way out of town—for Mr. Fu to teach cooking classes in Asia. Most recently, the couple spent several weeks in China, where Mr. Fu, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef, conducted classes on the fusion of Asian and European cuisines, which he practices in his tiny subterranean restaurant. And Mrs. Fu got to spend some time with family in Taiwan.

Now they’re back open for business, but they’ve trimmed their serving schedule to Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights only. And unlike virtually every other restaurateur in the world, the Fus almost seem like they’re trying to keep traffic to a minimum. With Mr. Fu alone in the kitchen, they’re not looking for the pre-TPAC rush. “Everyone’s in such a hurry,” says Mrs. Fu, adding that people should expect a meal at Parco to last about two hours. That’s the time it takes for Mr. Fu to prepare items such as Chilean sea bass—marinated, steamed, smoked over tea leaves and plated with a delicate Pernod cream sauce, asparagus tips and matchsticks of fresh Granny Smith apple. For an Asian twist on a French classic, Mr. Fu plates petite, pan-fried lollipops of lamb with baby bok choy and a roasted peach half with passion fruit sauce.

Do the math on the time and ingredients that go into such elegant dishes, which cost $28 and $25, respectively, and you’ll quickly realize that the Fus can’t be in it to get rich quick.

“I love to cook,” says Mr. Fu, whose diplomas from various workshops and courses from around the world deck the wall behind a pastry case filled with his plum tarts, gilded domes of chocolate mousse and other edible masterpieces. While he does most of the cooking without an assistant, he says he’s keeping an eye out for a young chef who wants to study with him and ultimately take over the restaurant so he and Mrs. Fu can take a break.

So it’s probably a good idea to visit the Fus sooner rather than later. They’re mumbling about heading back to Asia for good. Their 28-year-old son, a graduate of Cornell University, has moved to Hong Kong and is working on getting his folks back on his side of the globe. He probably misses the home cooking—and who can blame him?

Parco Café, 207 Third Ave. N. (entrance in Printers Alley). Phone: 259-7863. Open for dinner Thursday through Saturday. Reservations strongly recommended.

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