Whenever we head to Chinatown its either overcast or pouring with rain. I'm convinced that on a dull day we seek out comfort in sichuan food.
I'm nothing if not predictable and sort of guessed it would have to be the hot spicy lamb and gongbao chicken with whatever dish my wife fancied to complete the trio.
The lamb dish is most certainly not as hot this time around. Two of the chefs that I noticed in and out of the kitchen were new on me, I had not seen them before. The dish itself had a lot less birdseye chillies in it and also a lot less dried chilli slabs floating about, in fact a lot lot less. I tried to persuade my wife to try it but she would not take my word for it. Still the plan was to doggy bag it as the portion is way to big for one to eat. So perhaps she would try it another time.
Personally I think less chilli is for the better.
We sort of both agreed that the Stir fried soft shell crab with garlic and salt was to be the third choice dish. We like the squishy briney inards and the slightly chewy outer. This never fails to satisfy.
Apart from the a la carte menu, we were given a specials menu which lists perhaps about fifty? dishes which seemed interesting. Think tea tree mushrooms with pork belly, pig jelly and luncheon pork. pork maws with preserved vegetable, tender lamb belly with beancurd skin and chilli, pigs trotter with chilli and garlic, etc, etc.
We went with the Garlic flavoured spicy ribs, this is an absolute steal for £4.50. More surprising was the fact the ribs mostly had been well trimmed with only a couple with noticable fat.Also on the plus side the bones were small meaning more meat per bite.
I would never have dreamed to serve braised celery with this dish but it worked really well. I must try this at home. Good mild chilli bean sauce which surprised us. If you look at the top of the picture it is not all mixed in just spooned on top in some places. I asked the manager which type they used and he told me "Old grandma label" available from Chinatown twenty metres away.
On to one of our all time faves the classic GongBao diced chicken with peanuts and dried chilli.
Yes it claggy, sweet, garlicky and totally addictive. Not overly sweet of course, just right. Clearly though the dish is devoid of dried chilli. This theme ran throughout the meal.
Ok so as far away from fine dining as can be imagined, but nevertheless comfort eating at its very best, that is if you like the cusine.
Its down a notch on heat. Not sure if this is on purpose or its purely down to the different chefs interpretation. Personally we think its for the better.
We doggy bagged the lamb and even though I ate quite a bit of it, this is what was left.
We don't get to Red Chilli or indeed Red n Hot as much as we would like too, but they are hardly just down the road from us. Truth be told I have perfected the pork and beans dish that they serve here with the help of Fuchsia Dunlops excellent book Land of Plenty. IMO my dish is as good as any we have eaten out so sometimes for that chilli fix its diy at home.
All of the above, and they are big helpings and easily enough food for four people, £50, which included two glasses of house wine, a pint of lager, tap water and a tip. Jolly Good.