Sichuan cuisine is often full of surprises — there is always an element of heat and it comes at you in many ways. Sometimes, it hits you hard at first bite and sometimes, it starts mild and builds up from there. Then there are occasions when it creeps up on you and that to me, is the sneakiest kind of heat there is in Sichuan cooking.
Sichuan food is fiesty. It numbs the lips, tingles the tongue and snaps you to life. And I love every bit of it. The food tastes especially good during winter as one could do with that bit of heat to combat the cold.
Ma La, the combination of chilli heat and numbing effect of the Sichuan peppercorn is the flavour most associated with Sichuan cuisine. And the hotpot happens to be one of my favourites. It is sadism to the tongue and I’m addicted to it, this Sichuan canon.
Si Chuan Dou Hua is one of the places you can find Sichuan cuisine in Kuala Lumpur, boasting a team of renowned chefs and an in-house tea master, who combines martial arts, dance and gymnastics when he serves tea to you. Now that, you’ve got to watch.
Despite the weather being so humid, I still insisted on trying the Ma La Hotpot (RM116 nett for 2 pax), which arrived in a red cloak of oily, spicy goodness that renders each bite more punishing. A tip though — pick out the bits of fiery peppercorn and it’s a lot more bearable.
Sichuan hot and sour soup was good stuff, with bits of minced chicken and a good balance of spicy, tangy and savoury flavours. There’s so much going on in each spoonful; nothing is one-dimensional.
Don’t assume the shredded chicken with sesame sauce (served cold) is mild. It may seem so, but you’ll soon experience flickers of heat and it’s a good sort. Addictive even.
The boiled beef slice with chilli and Sichuan peppercorn had a lot of “hoo haa” going on. This came in a bowl with a coating of oil and little red Sichuan peppers. The beef was incredibly tender, allowing the heat from the peppercorn to go within. I really can’t explain this addiction; you have to try this for yourself.
Ma po tofu hits the sweat spot even further — silken pieces of tofu, baptised in fire. But unlike the beef, this was kinder to the palate, with a depth of flavour from the fermented black beans.
At the end of the meal, we tried the homemade beancurd with wolfberries, herbal jelly and chilled honeydew with sago. None particularly got me interested but if I had to choose a favourite, it would be the beancurd.
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Food: 7/10 (pork free)
Verdict: If you’re a fan of Sichuan food, give this a try!
Si Chuan Dou Hua
Parkroyal Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Jalan Sultan Ismail,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2782 8303