Bored of having the same Chinese food like noodles, manchurian and chilli chicken, then it is time to try out some authentic and popular delicacies Chinese food from Mainland China. The newly-opened restaurant, Hao Shi Nian Nian which means here’s too good life at M Block, GK II Market is organising Best of Sichuan, a food festival that has brought out bold flavours from the western parts of China.
Mike Li Wei the master chef Says, “The idea is to increase exposure for authentic schezwan cuisine. As people have started travelling to a number places in China, they are getting accustomed to authentic Chinese cuisine. So when they get to know of a Chinese restaurant in Delhi, they expect the same taste here. But hardly any restaurant has been able to live up to their expectations.”
For long, there has been a misconception of schezwan cuisine being spicy which has been use to extensive use of chilli, pepper and garlic. “What many do not realise is that the chilli and pepper, common ingredients in schezwan cuisine are used to add bold flavours. They are not meant for consuming. They should be separated while eating it. However, people prefer consuming everything being served,” said the chef.
On evolution of the cuisine, he said, “It was introduced to China following Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Chilli peppers were introduced to the remote schezwan province by Western missionaries. Previous schezwan cuisine was not completely without spice, however. Schezwan pepper is an indigenous plant (fruit) that produces a milder spice and is still a key ingredient in schezwan food to this day. Reason for this emphasis on spice may derive from region’s warm, humid climate which necessitates sophisticated food preservation techniques including pickling, salting, drying and smoking.”
With chef’s recommendation, I started my meal with Chong qing chicken. As the name suggests, the starter had a lot of chicken pieces but was garnished with ample amount of fried red chillies. “It’s a fun dish in China. Here, we served it on a plate but in China, it is in a big bowl with more quantity of red chillies in it. Children love to find out the chicken pieces from the heap of red chillies,” informed the chef. So I followed suit and took out chicken pieces. Next was steam-fried fresh asparagus that was served with green chillies, black beans and peanuts. “In all our dishes, you will get a lot of vegetables like black beans and spring onions. These helps food get easy on the stomach and wholesome,” he said.
In the main course, the chef asked me to try mapo dofu, double-cooked pork, stir-fried sliced lamb and homemade soft bean curd and spring onion, all served with plain rice. “We eat our dishes with plain rice. Noodles are reserved for marriage and birthday parties,” said the chef. I found mapo dofu slightly spicy and pungent in taste and tasted quite similar to desi kadhai paneer. However, the pieces of pork melted in my mouth in no time.