It's labeled as a private kitchen in some places, but it's not that kind of place. Housed in a building which looks like every other building in Wanchai (or known in some quarters as the World of Suzie Wong), the only hint of a restaurant behind the door is the bunch of of red hot chili peppers hanging on the front door. Inside, it is as spartan as spartan can be with tables of varying sizes lined along what looks like 2 units leased by the restaurant. But the smells are mistakably Sichuanese. You can almost feel yourself immersed in an oil of Sichuan peppers, deeper and deeper as the night progresses, especially as Sijie whips up a storm in the kitchen. Tip: do not wear clothes which have to be dry-cleaned or carry any leather bags to dinner..
Service is extremely friendly and helpful. I had to call ahead for directions and parking facilities and the dude who answered very patiently guided me through the streets of Wanchai, which for those living here will know, is not car-friendly.
The focus is on the food here since there is little else except for Sijie's chugging antics at the end of a long night. Refined cuisine is not on offer either. What you get is a piece of Sichuanese authenticity tucked in central Hong Kong and all the fiery robustness of what makes a hearty Sichuanese meal.
The huge bonus of eating in a big group, and a group of like-minded foodies is that you get to order almost everything on the menu. Pricing works on a per person basis and so depending on how many people you have, you are allowed to order the number of dishes for that price. No more, no less.
|Cold noodles tossed in Chili Oil|
And with most Sichuan appetisers, the rest become variations and subsets of the same spices but provided with different platforms/textures to bring out different notes of spice.
This is meant to make you salivate as the name suggests but sometimes, there may be so much numbness created that you may temporarily lose control over tongue and degenerate into a drool but fortunately, none of that occurred here but just the pleasurable sucking and slurping you are supposed to do when savouring wine.. no need to spit though.
Textures here are a little crunch, a little beefy meatiness...
Then a more pungent delivery through the fragrant garlic-laced oil, complementing the thinly sliced pork, allowing the flavours of the spices to come through without too much of a porky flavour.
Sweetened with juicy eggplants in a comparatively mild sauce with a sweet finish..
Then, a finale of crunch again this time from pig's ears, which are slightly gelatinous around a crunchy cartilage, given taste by the sauce only. One of my all-time faves.
The main courses started with the classic Sichuan dish of what it literally "boiling water cooked" Mandarin Fish. As you probably figured out, it's not really water but oil. And lots of it. There as a medium for cooking and not to be drunk (no it's not gravy). This allows for the fish to be just cooked without being overly so. The fish is sweet and succulent and good with a bowl of steamed rice.
|Slices of Husband and Wife's lungs|
|Thinly sliced pork in a garlic based chili oil|
|Cucumbers tossed in a chili oil|
Refreshing cool crunch from the cucumbers as temporary halfway house..
|Steamed eggplant in mild spicy sauce|
|Crunch pig ears in numbing oil|
|Mandarin fish in boiling oil|
|Beef slices in boiling oil|
Beef is the other popular choice for this dish and beef soaks up the spices and is therefore extremely flavourful. Sijie's renditions were competent but can't beat some of those I've had in China where the spices are more apparent than the oil.
|Salt and pepper Shrimps Sichuan Style|
|Sauteed crab in Salted egg yolk|
|Deep fried chicken with dried chillies|
|Twice fried Long beans with minced pork|
|Sauteed eggplant in sweet chili sauce|
|Deep fried battered pork|
|Rice Crispies with a seafood sauce|
|Sweet Cooling Tea|
All in all, an extremely fun night with foodie friends, eating and laughing the night away. Thanks to @g4gary for organising!
Shop 289, 2/F, Ko Wah Building
285-291 Lockhart Road
Tel: +852-2802 2250