Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hong Kong Sichuan -- More Heavenly Dishes

We've been eating at Hong Kong Sichuan Restaurant regularly since they reopened as an authentic Sichuan place in November. At first they had their real food on separate menus from their Americanized dishes. At one point they even had three menus, one entirely in Chinese. I went to the trouble of translating the whole darn thing, and found that Calvin Trillin's assumption is correct: the best dishes were on the Chinese menu.

But the owners noticed that non-Chinese people were interested in the good food, so they now have a unified menu in English and Chinese. (They didn't translate a few dishes that westerners are highly unlikely to like, like certain dishes with blood cubes and tripe.) They also have a lunch buffet again, but I don't know if it's the same dishes they had before or not. I expect it is probably their more westernized dishes, but their buffet was always good before and I have no reason to think they aren't now.

I already told you about the MaPo Tofu and Green Bean with Pork.

N01 Pork Wonton with Spicy Sauce
These luscious wontons in a spicy Sichuan flavored soup is my favoriate takeout dish. These are, ironically, not as hot as "sichuan wontons" are in other restaurants around town. However, other places seem to just drown them in hot oil and maybe a little garlic. Here they are in a soup of many nice seasonings, like the Mapo Tofu I mentioned in the previous review. (It's about as hot as an average hot and sour soup in town, not the hottest.)

M09 Dry Stir-fried Beef
Spicy, salty with toasted garlic. The chunks of celery really go well with the flavors here.

M18 Jumbo Shrimp wth Sichuan Sauce (aka Tasty Shrimp, or "Strange Flavor" Shrimp)
"Sichuan Sauce" here is a very special sauce that translates something like "strange flavor", but what it means is more like "intriguing flavor". The point of this sauce is to balance all flavors lightly and perfectly -- sweet, sour, salt, hot and rich aroma.

IMPORTANT NOTE: authentically prepared shrimp dishes include shells and heads... and all the flavor in a dish like this tends to be on the shell. Therefore, if you don't want to eat the shell, ask that it be prepared without shells. This is true of the other jumbo shrimp dishes on the Authentic Chinese Dishes menu.

M20 Gongbo Chicken with Peanuts
I don't have a picture of this, which is too bad. This is the classic Sichuan Dish on which Kung Pow Chicken is based. Diced chicken and celery, with aromatic seasonings, stirfried with chunks of dried hot peppers and peanuts. Like other dishes here, this is more subtle and aromatic than the Kung Pow you'll find in your average midwestern Chinese restaurant. Since the spice resides mostly in the hunks of red pepper, you can modify the heat or not by eating them or leaving them. (And they add a great flavor.)

(On another note: another famous Sichuan dish is Lazi Chicken -- or spicy little chicken. Chunks of chicken, with bones in, seasoned and deep-fried and served with piles of dried peppers on top. The peppers are there for aroma and add some spicy oils to the chicken, but again, you don't have to eat them. We have NOT tried this dish here. The only caution for westerners, aside from the potential heat, is the tiny bits of bone in each piece. You probably can't get this dish without bones, but you could always ask.)

More dishes next week....

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

Read more about those heavenly dishes at Hong Kong Sichuan at:

Heavenly Sichuan Food (previous post)
Hong Kong Sichuan, Even More Heavenly Dishes (next post)

1 comment:

Erich Zechar said...

Thanks for posting these. I'm going to try to make it out to HK Sichuan soon. Seems every place I love is doomed to close though, so maybe I shouldn't visit and give the kiss of death.