August 26, 2012
川厨美食 – Szechuan Cuisine, Richmond BC
酸辣粉 (Spicy & Sour w/ Rice Noodle)
担担面 (Tan Tan Noodle in Soup)
水煮鱼 (Szechuan Style Boiled Spicy Fish)
农家小炒肉 (Family Style Stir Fried Meat)
鱼香肉丝 (Shredded Pork w/ Chili & Garlic Sauce)
[口水鸡 (Szechuan Style Spicy Chicken), 炝炒土豆丝 (Spicy Shredded Potato), 猪舌黄瓜 (Pork Tongue w/ Cucumber)]
Parker Place is well known for its authentic, cheap, and quite delicious food court. After riding, Mom and Auntie called to say they were heading there for lunch, as one of Auntie’s friends is a chef from China and just opened up a Sichuan food stall there, simply called Szechuan Cuisine, serving up made to order Sichuan dishes. He had worked at a local Sichuan restaurant a while back and so we thought his cooking must be pretty good. I figured, why not. It was a chilly day and perfect for some extremely spicy food.
Mom and I were both craving 酸辣粉 (Spicy & Sour w/ Rice Noodle). It is hard to make at home due to the sheer amount of red chili oil required and the soup base is also quite complex. This was perfectly done. The clear, round semi-thin rice noodles were slippery yet still chewy, not at all overcooked and breaking easily. The soup base was not too sour and had quite the amount of heat from the chili peppers and chili oil on top. It had a lot of Sichuan peppers, though, giving it a strong ‘ma’ or tingly-numbing flavour, perhaps a little too much for my liking and certainly too much for many people. It was quite authentic, though, a nice blend of sour and spicy.
The 担担面 (Tan Tan Noodle in Soup) is another must try when it comes to Sichuan cuisine. The one here was made using regular noodles that were cooked al dente and very chewy, much to my pleasure. It was topped with peanuts, minced pork, a little soup, and some chopped scallions. The minced pork was quite saucy and had a mostly sweet flavour, much like that of tianmianjiang or sweet bean sauce. It was a little savoury and spicy, though, and when mixed in with the noodles and crunchy peanuts, the dish was very delicious. I am not so sure about authenticity on this one, but I love a sweet noodle dish anytime.
The 水煮鱼 (Szechuan Style Boiled Spicy Fish) was well worth the $9. It came with a base of napa cabbage and celery, with plenty of large, succulent, tender, and slightly pan-fried fish fillet pieces. The soup base was mostly just spicy with a lot of chili oil on top so that each piece of fish was coated in it and was very spicy. The insides were soft, though, making the spice level acceptable. I enjoyed the vegetables in the bottom and this dish came out very authentic.
Auntie wanted to try the 农家小炒肉 (Family Style Stir Fried Meat), which was Chinese cured pork belly stir fried with green bell peppers. The peppers were crunchy and refreshing while the cured pork was thin and had a nice balance of lean and fatty meat. It was rather chewy and nicely preserved, with the right amount of savoury flavour but still tasting slightly fresh. This dish was nothing special and I could have used more heat but it was still decent.
Our last dish was the 鱼香肉丝 (Shredded Pork w/ Chili & Garlic Sauce), which was also sweeter than it should be due to the garlic sauce. The shredded pork was quite tender but not exactly fat. I liked the celery and peppers in there but my favourite part was the black wood ear. It soaked up the sweet sauce that was slightly savoury and spicy. It could use more spiciness but I have to say, I loved the sweetness of the dish. It came piping hot and everything was cooked to perfection. Without the spice, it perhaps was not the most authentic, but I loved it. Or maybe this was authentic and the ones I have had in the past were not, since it is technically made with garlic sauce.
The dishes each came with a side of 汤 (Soup). This one was just a plain soup made with tea tree mushrooms, which were chewy. The soup was refreshing and flavourful, offering a nice balance with all the spiciness.
The three entrées also came with rice, as well as a side vegetable dish from the warmer where they keep the ready-made stuff for combo meals. We got 炝炒土豆丝 (Spicy Shredded Potato),口水鸡 (Szechuan Style Spicy Chicken), and a cold side dish of pork tongue and marinated cucumbers. The potatoes in the 炝炒土豆丝 (Spicy Shredded Potato) were still crunchy to match the peppers but I have never been a fan of this dish. It could also have used more heat. The chicken in the 口水鸡 (Szechuan Style Spicy Chicken) were extremely tender and succulent, soaking up the spicy flavour and were actually quite tasty. I loved the pork tongue slices that were flavourful and tender yet chewy. The texture was amazing, like the most tender meat but a little tougher. The cucumbers were slightly sweet and quite refreshing.
Szechuan Cuisine is shaping up to be a great place for fast, authentic, and cheap Sichuan food. Conveniently located, I am sure it will draw crowds of spice-loving Chinese diners – there is never a shortage of them in an Asian-dominating city like Richmond. I would love to try a few more dishes and ask them to make them even spicier!