Sijie Sichuan Dishes - 四姐川菜
On Wednesday, we went to a private kitchen in Wan Chai called Sijie Sichuan Dishes. It's one of those restaurants that are located in a private residence building, so it was confusing at first since there were no sides outside. The restaurant was pretty homely and spacious with about 8 big tables. The way you order is that they charge a fix rate for each person and depending on the number of people you have, you can order a number of appetizers and main dishes. We had 5 people, so we got to order 3 cold appetizers and 5 hot dishes.
This appetizer was the spicy sliced beef (夫妻肺片) - a dish that I've always enjoyed so I had high expectations. It was a bit disappointing - the taste wasn't spicy enough and too salty. The thing with Sichuan dishes is that you expect mouth-numbing spiciness, and this didn't deliver. I've had better in San Francisco and New York. I usually devour this dish, but left this untouched after a couple of bites.
Sliced pork with garlic sauce (蒜泥白肉) - I was expecting something totally different. The ones I had in Shanghai weren't covered in spicy oil; the pork was set aside from the sauce and the sauce was more condensed with garlic, soy sauce and chili. Maybe it's done differently in Sichuan. I'll give it a pass. The spicy oil has a tinge of sourness (which I liked), but the meat was a bit too fatty.
Sour and spicy cucumber (酸辣青瓜) - our last appetizer. I liked this one the most, because the crisp and fresh taste of the cucumber balances out the spicy sauce. It's one of those dishes where you can't stop popping one in your mouth every so often throughout the meal.
Twice cooked pork with fried rice crust (鍋巴回鍋肉) - this hot dish was a twist on the regular twice cooked pork with some fried rice crust. My first time eating fried rice crust and I love it! It was like eating rice crispy or some kind of rice cracker but without the sweetness. It's made with the rice that's stuck to the pan when you cook rice. The pork itself was not so great though - too hard and the sauce wasn't spicy enough.
Poached fish in hot chili oil (水煮魚) - ahh yes the grand finale we were all waiting for. We saw pictures ahead of time and thought it looked pretty authentic. Couldn't wait for it to blow our minds out and numb our tongues. Unfortunately it did neither. It certainly looked the part with the vast amount of chili oil, chili peppers and peppercorns floating around. The fish fillet wasn't bad - it was pretty soft and smooth. But it wasn't spicy enough! I feel like I've been repeating myself throughout this post with all the dishes. I can eat really spicy and I've had really spicy Sichuan food before. This place just didn't cut it for me. Everything felt kind of watered down. The funny thing though was that we were eating with 2 people who didn't really eat spicy food, and they were saying how their tongues were numb and their stomachs were on fire. Hmm...maybe if you want to tip toe your way into Sichuan dishes, this is a place to start.
We had some other dishes, but none that really stood out and worth mentioning. I didn't take any more pictures anyways because everyone was already busy eating. I wasn't going to stop them from eating the food. Well you take what you can, but at the end of the day, you're there to eat and spend quality times with friends. I'm not going to be one of those crazy photogs, okay? Well, try not to be anyways. =p
If you want really good and spicy Sichuan food, I would recommend Golden Valley (駿景軒) in Happy Valley. We had the poached fish in hot chili oil there and it was mouth-numbing hot! Also loved the saliva chicken there (okay that sounds kinda nasty, but trust me it's good).