Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hong Kong Sichuan -- Even More Heavenly Dishes

Before I continue my tour of the menu at Hong Kong Sichuan Food, a note about the Lazi Chicken that we haven't tried yet. Fuschia Dunlop mentions this dish in her blog. I definitely want to try this soon.

Aside from the wontons I mentioned last time, you might start your meal with a noodle salad.

Z01Sichuan Noodle Salad
Spicy, tasty. The sharp and earthy flavors of many Sichuan dishes, red and black pepper, toasted garlic. The Spicy Chicken Salad (Z04) has similar flavors as the Sichuan Noodle salad, but with sliced chicken and more green onions.

Z07 Shredded Vegetables Salad
Tofu and veggies with cellophane noodles in a salty tangy sauce. I think overall I like this one a little better, but it depends on what else I'm ordering. If I plan on ordering a lot of spicy dishses, I go for this one. If I am ordering less spicy entrees, the Sichuan or Spicy Chicken is a good starter.

M26 Ziran Lamb (Muslim Lamb with Cumin)
There is a lot of middle-eastern influence in Muslim areas of China - kabobs, flat breads, lamb dishes. Sichuan does not have a large Muslim population, but neighboring Hunan does at least a little, and this is a common dish. It's lamb, stirfried with green peppers and onions and seasoned with a lot of cumin. Cumin is the spice that gives chili powder and taco seasoning that unique flavor. It's common in the middle east and India, and is quite strong in this dish.

M37 Crispy Eggplant with Hot and Sweet Sauce
This one is addictive. Thin sticks of eggplant are battered in a thick but fluffy batter and deep fried, then served with the "hot and sweet sauce". The batter is not at all dense, and this dish is just plain luxurious.

The "hot and sweet sauce" isn't actually hot at all. It's got garlic and maybe ginger in it. It's similar to another famous Sichuan sauce that you may already be familiar with under the name "garlic sauce." Odds are, if you order a broccholi in garlic sauce, the sauce will be yuxiang or "fish fragrant" sauce. (Which means it goes good with fish, the way steak sauce goes good with steak. It is not made of fish, nor does it have the fragrance of fish.) It's aromatic and a little sweet and sour, and very friendly to western tastes. The other eggplant dish comes with this sauce too, and there is a Yuxaing pork on the menu.

M04 Double-cooked Side Pork
If you've ever had Double-cooked Pork before, it probably was quite different than this. This is the authentic way to make the dish, and it is very very rich, and many Americans will find it too fatty.

It's made with side pork -- one of the cuts of pork from which you make bacon. This rich, melt-in-your-mouth cut is usually simmered to render out some of the fat, and then sliced and stir-fried. Hence the name "double-cooked".

M06 Steamed Side Pork in Soy Sauce (Button Pork)
This dish is also made with side pork, and it's a nice showy kind of dish you can nibble from. The Chinese characters for this dish are "button pork" and that probably refers to the way it is presented. A bowl is lined with slices of side pork, and then filled with salty preserved Sichuan vegetables. It's seasoned with soy sauce at some point, and then steamed. The bowl is then inverted and the dish is served like a "button" on a plate.

Button Pork a little salty and fatty for western tastes, especially as a main dish, but it's a great side dish, and surprisingly good for leftovers. It's so flavorful, you can just chop a little bit up and put it over rice to make a very tasty lunch.

I have not tried the Korean Noodle Soup, nor the main dish version of the Hot and Sour Soup -- but friends have and both are highly recommended. Both are spicy. The Korean soup is a seafood soup and friend noted that the squid was so perfectly cooked, it wasn't rubbery. That's noteworthy.

Hong Kong Sichuan Restaurant, 315 S. Homer St. (south of Frandor, near Kalamazoo St -- behind Bake n Cakes), Lansing Mi. (517) 332-5333.

Read previous reviews of heavenly dishes at Hong Kong Sichuan:

Heavenly Sichuan Food
Hong Kong Sichuan, More Heavenly Dishes


BTime said...

I read on your blog here that they re-launched in November. Do you know if it's the same owners?

8 years ago I ordered their Hot & Sour soup, though didn't appreciate the included metal crate staple. Ordered from them again about 2 years ago and the food was just poor.

I'd like to give them another shot, but it's hard to overcome all the really bad juju this place has been serving up for nearly a decade.

The Eastside Food Geek said...

I don't know if there are new owners who kept around some of the old staff, or the old owners brought in a new staff.

I also haven't tried any of the "American" Chinese food, and don't know if it has changed. We eat there often, but stick to the authentic dishes. (I hear they have restored their lunch buffet, which would probably have either a mix of both, or all Americanized food. I may check it out at lunch sometime.)