3rd floor, #333, Zhao Shang Ju Square, North Chengdu Road (near Weihai Lu),
This is in Shanghai and not in Chengdu, Sichuan although the address can be misleading...
Tel: 5298 0438 (make reservation to avoid the queue)
The last time I had authentic Sichuan dishes were 3 years ago in Chengdu, Sichuan and came away with my whole mouth, tongue and all, numb but a culinary experience I'd never forget.
When Heather told me that her two Shanghainese good friends/colleaques wanted to bring us out for Sichuan dinner, I was ecstatic (this tongue numbing experience can be very addictive, fear but love it all at the same time...)
The girls did all the ordering as they are the true experts of this cuisine.
Started off with the cold dish always...delicate pork dish with duck egg yolk.
Some rabbit food...lettuce with sesame sauce.
A very refreshing lightly stir-fried of black fungus, asparagus and chili.
OK, now armed with an artillery of antidotes, we were ready for the unique assault of the palates by the following fiery Sichuan dishes...
Steamed chicken smoldered in a hot sauce of hua jiao (Sichuan peppers) and chilli pepper sprinkled generously with sesame seeds and peanuts. Yumz, hot and spicy.
Meaty and succulent bull frog legs stewed with petula (silk gourd) and tiny pickled red and green chillies in, what else but the ma la flavor of the huajiao. The aroma and flavor of the sichuan peppers coupled with the sourness from the varied pickled chillies rendered this dish beyond description...Proceed cautiously, it is a land mine of hua jiao floating around. One chomp and the mouth goes numb along with the taste bud too.
My favorite of the evening.
When this dish turned up at the table, I was thinking 'Chili soup?' Looked closely, the soup turned out to be oil! Are we going to eat that? OK, I was told this is hot fish fillet with chili peppers in oil. Thin slices of fish (freshwater) were cooked without fire but just from the heat of the boiling hot spicy oil.
The fish was left in the hot oil with red pepper chili for a while and an attendant came by the table, lifted off the chili pieces and revealed the fish slices within. With this method the fish get cooked just right. The flavor and texture of fish was unbelievably smooth and silky and surprisingly didn't taste oily at all.
Now the girls said we need to bring down the temperature as our warm attire was removed layer by layer as the meal progressed. They asked the captain for something to bring down the heat and this was the dish that turned up (lucky for us they didn't send the bomba).
Savory soy bean curd with all these condiments. I don't know about the effectiveness of this in cooling us but it was a very tasty way to end the fiery dinner.
Thank you, Z and C for the lovely evening, fantastic food and truly entertaining company.