I can’t claim to have been to all the Sichuan restaurants in Hong Kong, but I have been to my fair share and here are some of my favourites.
My first blush with Sichuan cuisine was at Chilli Fagara three years back and it has since become a favourite holiday highlight of my friends and family visiting the 852. Back in 2013, having just moved to Hong Kong and with my Indian palate definitely underwhelmed by the seemingly bland Cantonese cuisine, Sichuan food set fire to my stomach, as well as my imagination.
The ‘Sichuan fried green beans’, ‘chilli jumbo prawns’, ‘dan dan noodles’ and ‘mapo tofu’ are to die for. An excellent way to douse the fire on your tongue is to order a scoop of their trademark ‘chilli ice cream’ – milk has never brought such sweet relief (followed by a kick of spice) before!
I should also add that they have an extensive dedicated vegetarian menu brimming with spicy and flavourful options for even the pickiest of eaters.
Chilli Fagara | 7 Old Bailey Street, Central | 2893 3330
Sichuan Da Ping Huo
A recent discovery, Sichuan Da Ping Huo is definitely on the more expensive end of the spectrum but the fare, and the quantity, definitely helps justify the prices.
The ‘cucumber mixed with homemade XO sauce’ is bursting with flavor and is always polished off fairly quickly. The unusually shaped, flat ‘pork dumplings’ proves a little tricky with the chopsticks but packs in quite a punch. The ‘Da Ping Huo tofu with minced beef in hot chili sauce’ maybe on the oilier side but is everything one is looking for in a mapo tofu. And the ‘Sichuan authentic dan dan noodles’ are the absolute best I’ve ever had!
However, keep in mind that unlike Chilli Fagara and Qi this restaurant only has a handful of vegetarian options so proceed with caution if you have any vegetarians in your group.
Sichuan Da Ping Huo | LG/F, 49 Hollywood Road, SoHo | 2559 1317
Monogamous is another favourite restaurant, especially on cold winter days when the will to leave the cozy, heated bedroom and step out into the cold is very low.
Comfortably snug under the Caine Road escalators, the warm dining space and red décor provides welcome respite from the cold winds and the piping hot seafood in hot & sour soup envelops the soul like an old, fuzzy blanket. The diced cucumber with garlic brings a whiff of freshness into an otherwise overwhelming Sichuan meal heavy in oil and spice. Other favourites include pork wantons in Sichuan spicy sauce and mixed vegetables with mushrooms.
Monogamous Chinese | 59 Caine Road, Central | 2523 2872
Qi – House of Sichuan
Qi is quite popular amongst the folks from the sub-continent. Their lunch time set menus are very popular amongst the office crowd at Wan Chai and the liberal usage of spice ensure that nobody suffers from about of afternoon drowsiness!
The ‘bang bang chicken in spicy peanut sauce’ is a big hit as is the lettuce wrap (minced beef or pork or chicken or vegetables wrapped in lettuce and dipped in peanut sauce). The crispy rice with mixed vegetables is a discovery by itself while the slightly more adventurous get excited by the ‘braised mandarin fish fillet in chili oil soup’ which makes for a red hot, unctuous accompaniment with steamed rice. The ‘potato noodles in spicy Hunan broth’ are also an interesting must try.
Qi – House of Sichuan | 60 Johnston Rd, Wan Chai | 2527 7117
This lesser known restaurant is highly recommended by the Sichuan province locals living in the SAR. I was introduced to this place by one of my colleagues from Chengdu and he swears that in a city of expensive me-too Sichuan restaurants, this place is the real deal.
Famous for its super generous lunch sets and its hot pots, I find a complexity and depth of flavor in the food here that is lacking in so many Sichuan restaurants popular with expats which only dial up the heat.
Sichuan Paradise, 3/F, One Capital Place, 18 Luard Road, Wan Chai | 2205 0020
What are your favourite eateries which serve up this explosive a cuisine? Do leave your recommendations in the comments and let me know!