New restaurants in Causeway Bay – delicious Sichuan dishes at San Xi Lou
The restaurant’s new location seems airier and more spacious than the popular original in Central and the food does not disappoint, with chilled goose intestines with chilli a tasty starter and scrumptious Sichuan-style stewed beef
It took several attempts before I could book San Xi Lou for a time that was convenient to us: the receptionist kept offering me tables at 6pm or 9pm. I finally called more than a week in advance to get a table for a prime-time dinner reservation.
The Causeway Bay Sichuan restaurant seems airier and more spacious than the popular original in Coda Plaza, Mid-Levels. As at the original, many people visit the Causeway Bay branch for Sichuan hotpot, as evinced by the large array of ingredients for the mix-your-own dipping sauce.
We ordered from the cooked food menu and almost all the dishes came within 15 minutes, which made our small table very crowded and meant the hot dishes were cool by the time we got around to eating them. We finally asked the waitress to have the kitchen slow down.
Chilled goose intestines with chilli (HK$98) was a delicious starter. The well-cleaned intestines were tender and the pile of cooked green chillies looked intimidating but had just the right spice level, with the occasional kick at the back of the throat which kept things interesting. Deep-fried chicken cartilage (HK$88) had a crunchy texture and the Maggi sauce added a lot of umami.
Chinese lettuce with sesame sauce (HK$68) won’t win any prizes in a beauty contest; in fact, it looked pretty disgusting, as if someone had just lopped off the ends off a head of romaine lettuce and dumped some orangey-brown sauce on the leaves (which is probably the case). But the lettuce was crisp and refreshing, and the thick, rich, cool sauce had a very nice, slow-building spiciness.
Pickled mustard cabbage and stewed fish (HK$368) is available with mandarin fish or catfish, and we chose the former. The fish fillets were delicate and the thin sauce was just mildly spicy, with a delicious light tanginess.
The Sichuan-style stewed beef (HK$298 for small, HK$398 for large) was also enjoyable. The beef was thickly sliced, tender (although it didn’t taste of tenderiser) and gently poached in a spicy sauce that also contained raw cucumber, bamboo shoots, lots of bean sprouts and wide pieces of fun pei noodles.
A non-spicy Hakka dish of pork belly with preserved vegetable (HK$138) had very soft fat and slightly stringy meat, but the sauce was so good we ordered rice to eat it with. We enjoyed it with a palate-cleansing dish of crunchy shredded asparagus lettuce sautéed with mushrooms (HK$108).
San Xi Lou, Shop 1102, 11/F Food Forum, Times Square, 1 Matheson Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2111 9952. About HK$300 without drinks or the service charge.
While you’re in the area:
New Causeway Bay restaurants: delicious, refined Chinese fare at affordable prices at GeGe Fu Royal Cuisine