Hong Kong budget eats

New restaurant in Hong Kong: Twelve Flavors, Kennedy Town - authentic and affordable Sichuan dry hotpot and more

It’s impossible to walk past the restaurant on Sands Street without noticing the traditional exterior. Step inside and try some authentic Sichuan dishes, including the dry hotpot with crispy chicken wings

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 12:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 2:48pm

Sichuan restaurant Twelve Flavors opened in Kennedy Town recently, bringing spicy, affordable Chinese cuisine to the west side of Hong Kong Island.

It’s impossible to walk past the restaurant on Sands Street without noticing the venue because of the striking shop gate; there are handwritten Chinese couplets, a fake tiled roof and traditional window frames. A row of red lanterns along the windows makes the shop look even more welcoming.

The interior is equally enticing, decorated with cartoon panda drawings and gold birdcages. Red lanterns hanging from the ceiling provide an interesting contrast to the green wooden panels that divide the spacious and cosy seating options.  A small collection of clothing items with Chinese elements such as frog buttons is displayed in a corner near the cashier, showcasing designs from Eyensree, an emerging Shanghai-based brand inspired by traditional Chinese culture.

The restaurant offers a range of signature Sichuan dishes, such as boiled fish with pickled cabbage and boiled beef in hot chilli oil. It also features dry hotpot, or mala xiang guo, which is stir-fried vegetables and meat with numbing chilli pepper sauce and various spices. Customers can choose the ingredients they want from a selection of 25, including chicken wings, cauliflower, pig intestines and frogs.

The main dish we ordered was a medium-spicy dry hotpot (HK$38) with chicken wings (HK$38), pork luncheon meat (HK$48), quail eggs (HK$38), potatoes (HK$22) and celtuce stem (HK$22). With a bowl of rice (HK$12), the portion was big enough for two people.

The dish was a splash of colours with red peppers, green parsley, and white sesame seeds. The spice level was the right amount for us; the first few bites felt mild and the heat built as we ate more. The savoury and spicy flavours were very appetising, and quite authentic, too. The ingredients were cooked in the same sauce but each had their own unique taste.

The chicken wings – each one cut into two for easier eating – were crisp on the outside and soft inside. The luncheon meat was tender and delicious, and went very well with the plain rice. The tender quail eggs were a pleasant surprise, as they were not dry and absorbed the mouth-watering sauce. The potato and celtuce stem slices were fresh and slightly crisp, balancing out the oiliness of the meat.

A light and refreshing dessert is the best way to end such a flavourful meal. We ordered a bowl of Sichuan-style jelly (HK$26), which was cold, smooth and almost transparent in the shimmering light yellow soup. The taste was not overly sweet, and a hint of osmanthus freshened up our palates.

Overall, we enjoyed the meal. We’re happy that such an affordable, authentic spot opened in Kennedy Town. Pay them a visit, and you may even pick up a traditional Tang suit jacket after having a delightful meal.

Twelve Flavors, Sands House, 10-14 Sands Street, Kennedy Town, tel: 6061 6514. Open: noon-11pm

While you’re in the area:

Review: Alvy’s, Kennedy Town – whiskey with a side of Woody Allen

Brut in Sai Ying Pun – a busy, tapas-inspired new restaurant

Mama Malouf – Middle Eastern meals with strong, balanced flavours