As the Chinese economy grows from strength to strength, the world is ever more intrigued by what the country has to offer, especially in cuisine. The vastness of the country and the different climates within makes for a dizzying array of cuisines to suit local palates. And Sichuanese, one of the renowned cuisines, is certainly gaining in popularity, especially as people from around the globe takes to spicy food a lot more than they used to. A lot of what the world saw (outside of Sichuan that is) had been largely bastardized, tamed versions, since the mainstay of the cuisine, the Sichuan pepper, was not readily available. Also the use of sugar to neutralize the heat has been frowned upon by Sichuanese. Today, with world distances shrinking by virtue of increasingly convenient transportation, and the growing popularity of immigration, the world is seeing Sichuanese cuisine, that is closer to the real thing. The little eatery in Causeway Bay is testament to this.
On a wet and muggy night, full from the day's intake of junk food, we were looking for something light to fill up before heading to bed. The lights from this eatery on a backstreet of Causeway Bay, where many bars and restaurants have popped up, looked inviting enough. So before the decided to call it a night, we quickly ordered 2 summer coolers - Green Bean laced soya milk, and a Sichuanese jelly drink. Both refreshing and none too cloying.
Our orders were heavier on the appetizers, the first being a century egg special with Sichuanese chillies. When it showed up, I asked if the lighter colored eggs were salted eggs, but was told they are actually Sichuanese century eggs. Similarly tasting, they were perhaps less mercuric and had a firmer yolk, while the Canto versions we are used too were creamier although more pungent. Both went well with the sesame-laced chili slivers.
Our other appetizer was a marinated wood ear salad dressed with garlic and vinegar, and well chilled to make for yet another refreshing dish. Of course, the toasted sesame and Chinese parsley added the complimentary fragrance to what would seem a bland dish.
The bean jelly sheets with a typical Sichuanese numbing spice with crunchy beans and peanuts was just spicy. Nothing else to speak of - the bean sheets were too soft to not have any texture to them and the spice was unfortunately one -dimensional. No hint of salt, vinegar or other taste-grabbing feature. A little disappointing unless you just want to get a lot of heat into the system.
My favorite from supper was actually the Sichuanese dumplings. Tasty minced pork fillings with traces of shrimp in a very rich and tasty chicken superior stock. If not for fear of MSG (which my MSG-sensitive brain indicated there was little of it used here), I would have finished the whole bowl. Perhaps I needed it badly to neutralize the heat, but it was in any case a satisfying way to end the meal.
4 Yiu Wa Street