Sichuan dishes with a Cantonese twist at Sichuan Delicacy, Causeway Bay hit the spot
Some raucous diners could not spoil a delicious meal whose highlights were a nourishing double-stewed soup and a complex and subtle, water-cooked grouper
Sichuan Delicacy is a long, narrow restaurant, which can be problematic when you’re seated very close to a large group of ex-school mates having a reunion dinner, and who are getting increasingly louder the more they drink. There were no empty tables to move to, so we had to raise our voices so we could hear each other over them.
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Fortunately, the food was good. Beef and ox tripe in chilli sauce (HK$68) had the unexpected but welcome addition of beef tongue. The three meats, each with a different texture, were drenched in an addictive coarsely textured and tolerably spicy sauce.
Our second starter of eggplant salad was milder, with a light sesame dressing.
From the brief section on “speciality dishes” (it listed only two), the nourishing double-stewed soup (HK$48 per bowl) was fantastic. It seemed more Cantonese than Sichuan, with its rich, clear broth holding ingredients such as chicken meat and bones, goji berries and dried longan.
We had four dishes from the “signature mains” – which turned out to be too much because portion sizes were generous.
If we had the meal to do over again, we would have skipped the crispy spareribs (HK$168) which were not at all crisp. Instead, the pork ribs had been stir-fried. Like the soup, it tasted more Cantonese, but while the meat was tender, the dish was dull compared to everything else we were eating.
We ordered the deep-fried paper-wrapped beef (HK$268) because it sounded interesting. The waiter cut open the paper-wrapped parcel with scissors, to reveal what looked like just a bunch of dried chillies.
We poked around with our chopsticks and found large pieces of moist and tender beef with a cumin-dusted coating. It was mild at first, but the chilli flavour grew stronger as we ate more.
Sichuan water-cooked grouper (HK$358; it’s also offered with perch fish [HK$458], beef [HK$298] or Kurobuta pork [HK$298]) was unlike any other version we’ve tasted before. Usually, the large, wide terrine has so many dried red chillies floating on top that you can’t see the other ingredients underneath, and which make the broth so spicy it’s undrinkable.
This version was slightly spicy, and far more complex and subtle than usual. In the delicious, drinkable broth were ingredients such as large chunks of bone-in fish and the fish head, several types of pickled vegetables (mustard green, daikon and whole yellow chillies), fresh celtuce and beansprouts, and fun pei noodles. A dish of stir-fried celtuce (HK$78) looked spicy because of the chopped dried chillies on top, but the crunchy vegetable was sweet and cooling.
For dessert, we ordered the second dish listed as a speciality: Sichuan ice jelly (HK$38). The clear jelly with dried goji berries and raisins came in a mildly sweet syrup, and refreshed our palates.
Sichuan Delicacy, 25/F Circle Tower, 28 Tang Lung Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2827 6233. About HK$370 without drinks or the service charge
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