Showing posts with label cold chili chicken. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cold chili chicken. Show all posts

Qi - House of Sichuan 呇 (Hong Kong)

Before venturing to Qi – House of Sichuan, you’ll want to read this first. There will be things that draw you to the restaurant: a Michelin star, an easy reservation system (a simple email), and their Wan Chai location that’s close to other night life.

You may even be drawn by their website’s description:

The authentic Sichuan dishes here reflect the “seven flavours of Sichuan” – spicy, aromatic, sweet, bitter, sour, peppery, and salty. Not for the faint-hearted, be prepared to experience a wide spectrum of spiciness as the house serves up explosive flavours from the Sichuan canon.

Just heed their warning – the menu is not for the faint-hearted. Unless you have a high tolerance for spice, dishes from the Sichuan region really differs from the sweet, sour, and salty preparations of other Chinese regions. Even if you’ve been to a Sichuan restaurant outside of China, you may not be prepared. I was no match for Qi.

Learn from my mistake. Here are three words of advice:

1. Skip the hot and sour soup

While the hot and sour soup ($60 a bowl) was tasty, incorporating plenty of thinly julienned ingredients so that each bite was a mix of flavours and textures, the soup was so hot (in terms of spice and temperature) that your tongue will be scorched by the time you’re even a third of the way through. Good luck handling anything else.

A better starter is the mouthwatering chicken ($85). One of Qi’s signature dishes, the slightly chilled boneless white meat is tender and flavourful all on its own. Plenty of warm chili paste is placed over top, but you can add as little or as much as you like to ensure it’s not overwhelming. Aside from spice there’s a bit of mala heat that has a numb inducing quality – semi-protecting rather than scorching the tongue.

Or you could just go straight to the mains and nibble on the forced upon snack plate ($30) while waiting – a non-spicy sesame oil laced winter melon, lightly spiced cucumber, and lotus root tossed with a mala sauce. 

2. Balance out the meal with non-spicy dishes

A good ratio to aim for is about 50/50. Thinking the sugar glazed ginger and scallion beef ($160) would be a dish with respite, in the dark dining room we didn’t notice the chili beside the name on the menu. Indeed, with the first bite you’re greeted with a crispy crust and aromatic syrupy sauce… but then the chili dust mixed into the batter erupts into the mouth. Nonetheless, it’s mellower than all the other dishes we tried, except for the mouthwatering chicken where the diner controls the spice level.

Even the vegetarian eggplant ($115) was too much. It’s a shame there wasn’t a plain eggplant dish as the vegetable was done perfectly – cut into thicker sticks and cooked until creamy. But then the sauce was so thick that it’s hard to get away from the chili. Unfortunately, for vegetables, there’s only one choice for something without heat – a plain seasonal vegetable ($90) with or without garlic.

Surprisingly, the dish I could handle better was the spicy prawns ($240) – a dish that actually has ‘spicy’ in the title! While it looks scary and filled with red tongue torturers, the chilies are left in large pieces so you can easily avoid them. While the deep fried prawns are stir-fried with chili oil, each are fairly large in size, so the seafood to batter ratio makes the heat more balanced.

3. Arm yourself with plenty of water and a cold milk tea

The restaurant is smart to include a bottle of water at every table. In the heat of the moment, you’ll find yourself reaching for it ($70) – although I did see some tables ask them to switch the bottles for a regular pitcher.

Yet, it was the cold milk tea ($45) that offered the most respite. The sweet cooling dairy temporarily quenching the flames. It was the only thing that allowed me to try everything twice, although my husband and I eventually had to tap out and leave most dishes half done.

If all else fails, you can always ask them to tone down the spice – as I overheard from the neighbouring table when they ordered the chili crab. It may feel like you’re wimping out, but at least you’ll be able to finish the meal.

For a Michelin starred restaurant the service could have been better. Being under staffed, it was difficult to flag someone down to order the milk tea and the paying process was painfully long. Still, while we left the dinner defeated and tongues a flamed, I’ll still give Qi a decent mark since it lived up to what was promised and the food was done well. Just listen to my advice and perhaps you’ll leave victorious. 

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Wan Chai, Hong Kong
 Address: 60 Johnston Rd (J Senses, 2nd floor)

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!