One of the Eight Great Cuisines of China, Sichuan cuisine is widely known for its numbing and spicy sensations (known as mala) that distinguish it from its regional counterparts. But does it mean one has to be able to endure the heat to enjoy Sichuan food?
Contrary to popular belief, heat is just one of the definitive characteristics of Sichuan food. A multi-faceted culinary tradition hailed from the Sichuan province, Sichuan cuisine is an expression of seven flavour profiles: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, hot and aromatic. The beauty of the regional cuisine lies in its balancing act, which takes place when the pungent mala is tempered with ingredients such as smashed cucumbers, pickled vegetables and savoury broad bean paste (aka doubanjiang) to create harmony.
Ready to discover the frenzy world of Sichuan flavours? Check out these MICHELIN-recommended Sichuan restaurants that have nailed the classics and impressed MICHELIN Inspectors with their creative twists.
Named after the Jing Alley in Chengdu, this MICHELIN-recommended restaurant in Sheung Wan serves up modern Sichuan fare packed full of flavours. A favourite of MICHELIN inspectors, the signature Chengdu water-boiled green chilli black pearl fish is made with seven different types of chilli, each layering flavours with aromatic, numbing and spicy characteristics, as opposed to the Chongqing version which puts emphasis on the red chilli-laden broth.
But there’s more to Jing Alley than well-executed Sichuan classics. One of their most popular dishes is homemade chopped chilli pepper with European seabass and braised fish maw, which is best mixed together with Japanese egg fried rice. Don’t forget to try the aromatic and spicy pigeon, mala beef brisket with handmade noodles, and the Jing Alley Peking duck served with sliced golden kiwi, melon, scallion and cucumber.
What’s better than mouth-watering Sichuan food? Sichuan food with dazzling views, no less. Whether you enjoy the numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorn or spicy chillies with a sharp kick, Qi delivers a spectrum of flavours that reflect the seven flavours of Sichuan with signature dishes like chilli fried tiger prawns, roasted cumin diced lamb with dried chilli, braised Mandarin fish fillet in chilli oil soup and crispy mala beef.
With deep-rooted experience in Sichuan cuisine, the culinary team doesn’t shy away from packing a flavour punch with creative renditions such as fried calamari with Sichuan miso and spicy seafood and egg fried rice in a stone bowl.
Opened in 2016, Deng G has gained a loyal following over the past five years. Proof that Sichuan cuisine is more than just the heat, Deng G is the brainchild of the Elite Concepts Group and chef Deng Hua-dong, who’s at the helm of Shanghai’s Nan Xing Yuan—a newly listed restaurant in the MICHELIN Guide Shanghai 2022.
Expect to find rare gems that are hard to find elsewhere, including braised sliced mandarin fish in millet congee, Sichuan-style sea cucumber, and Mao Xue Wang (duck blood, mixed meat and tripe in spicy sauce).
Over in Tsim Sha Tsui, the group has recently opened Deng G Sichuan Cuisine at K11 MUSEA, which follows chef Deng’s philosophy with unique offerings to spotlight lesser-known flavours of Sichuan cuisine, such as the spicy marinated beef with Sichuanese dried tangerine peel and sweetened pork belly with glutinous rice—a village dish originated in the rural areas of the Sichuan province.
(Restaurant is temporarily closed due to Covid-19)
Supervised by celebrity chef André Chiang, the chef and co-owner of Taipei’s two-MICHELIN-starred Raw, Sichuan Moon at Wynn Palace Macau elevates Sichuan cuisine with unexpected flavour combinations and presentations that never fail to impress.
The degustation menu comes with 15 courses, which typically kicks off with the “88 Fortune Treasures,” featuring eight distinctive flavour profiles to showcase the complexity of Sichuan cuisine. The “Masterpiece Mapo Tofu,”, described by MICHELIN Inspectors as a “work of art,” is a treat for the senses consists of four varieties of tofu varying in texture and flavour, served in a sizzling stone bowl wrapped in a basket of bay leaves.
The “King Crab Leg” is yet another showstopper, where an Alaskan king crab leg is coated with Sichuan Pixian broad bean sauce and Cantonese “typhoon shelter powder”, served with pesto sauce and chargrilled tuna fish oil to deliver robust flavours in every bite.
Specialising in Hunan and Sichuan cuisine, Feng Wei Ju is decked out in auspicious palettes of red and gold with an open kitchen where guests can watch the chefs in action as they prepare hand-pulled noodles.
The menu offers unmissable classics, ranging from Sichuan boiled mandarin fish fillets in chilli oil to Hunanese fare like steamed carp fish head with chilli. Those who enjoy authentic dishes from Hunan should try the restaurant’s signature boneless beef ribs, which is fork-tender and well-marinated with a blend of Hunan sauces and spices.
Fiery dishes aside, cold appetisers, specialty noodles, Northern dumplings and desserts are just as remarkable at Feng Wei Ju.
Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Hong Kong Macau 2021
For no-frills Sichuan cuisine that won’t break the bank, Wing Lai Yuen in Wong Tai Sin is a trusted local joint that won’t disappoint. The original shop was located in a squatter village, but nothing has changed since the family-run diner moved to the current location in 2000.
The dan dan noodles—served steaming hot with a distinctive sesame aroma—remains a signature and comes in two versions: with ground pork or a traditional one without, plus a spicy or mild broth to choose from. Other crowd favourites like mapo tofu, water-boiled fish and crispy Chinese deep-fried red bean crepe are great for sharing.
CONTINUE READING: Tracing The Origin: Hong Kong’s Dan Dan Noodles