An enigmatic venue appeared at the Alzaia Naviglio Grande 56 in October 2018. One winter evening I walked past it and was impressed by the extremely minimalist and refined aesthetic behind a large transparent glass window. Next to the front door, a handwritten sign reading Cantonese cuisine. I had never seen the dishes photographed on before. I had no idea what that place was, so I walked in to A.N.G.56.
White walls, some plants here and there, installations that are in a sense reminiscent of industrial architecture, but also mirrors and alienating music. Qi Zhang (she could be a muse of John Galliano for Maison Margiela discovered in Canton) brings me the menu and I find that here they only make cheung fun. It is a traditional dish of Guangdong city, widely present in Hong Kong, made with rice cream and water. This mixture is placed inside a special bamboo drawer machine that produces steam so that a compact puff pastry is formed that is rolled up and seasoned with various ingredients (beef, pork, shrimp or sometimes vegetables). More modern reinterpretations are also offered here. There is also a special menu of the day. Drinks include Chinese flower teas (cold or hot), milk tea and beer. As a dessert there is a kind of coconut milk soup, matcha jellies, azuki and glutinous black rice.
This place intrigued me so much that I later had the opportunity to meet the owners, three very nice and very helpful Chinese guys with whom I had a long conversation. They are Yuli Li, Dong Huo and Qi Zhang. Three friends who after a degree at Marangoni in Milan in fashion design have decided to try their hand at a very ambitious fashion food project. After five years in Milan they invested in something new, taking advantage of a type of cuisine also unknown to many of their fellow countrymen. Yuli Li explains to me:
China is an immense territory. My colleagues are from Canton, but I’m not. Like many Italian customers, I had never eaten cheung fun before because they were not from my home area. Then I studied how to make them. Qi Zhang came home to learn this dish perfectly and when she returned to Italy she brought with her the machinery to make cheung fun, because there is nothing like this here.
Their aesthetic taste is really evident in the choice of furniture and clothing of the three owners. The environment is fresh, young and sought after. They did everything with their own hands and also work in the kitchen and the service in the room is fully managed on their own. A.N.G.56 is a forge in the making. In less than a year it is developing fast and is still developing for the better. When the time is ripe, personal creations will also be on display. A new way of understanding the cuisine in Milan that I, honestly, loved. The dishes are really good and tasty and the conditions for something even more intriguing and interesting there are all.
📍 Alzaia Naviglio Grande 56, Milan 📞 +39 392 343 0602 💰 $