We kicked off with three starters. The Hunanese pickles were crunchy, sour batons of cucumber and daikon. They had the curious quality to be both cold yet fiery from the heat. Spare ribs were fine; tender meat, but not hugely interesting when compared to the pickles and the slivered chicken salad (below). The shredded chicken was combined with chilli oil and julienned crunchy vegetables. While on the salty side, it was addictively spicy.
For our mains, we spotted another table with an enormous plate and after enquiring as to what it was, the steamed catfish with salted chillis were duly ordered (opening photo). Two fillets were cooked to tenderness, topped with the chopped salted inferno of chillis. They cut like butter, and came with a portion of noodles to dump in the deeply savoury, almost dashi-like sauce. It was my favourite dish of the night.
A typically home-style Hunanese dish is Peng's beancurd. The beancurd is fried on the outside, soft within and is cooked with fermented black beans, chilli bean paste and pork. Liberally sprinkled with thick rings of chopped fresh chillis, the green were bearable while the red were so spicy they could have been incandescent.
Dried yard beans with Chinese bacon was a serious saltfest. The chewy texture of the dried beans and the slivers of bacon were great, but you really needed to eat this with a lot of rice.
Another typical dish of the region was the least spice-laden. Chairman Mao's red braised pork was a dish of tender, glossy cubes of pork belly, coated in a soy anise sauce. It put the fires out.
My suggestion of hand torn cabbage was veto'd, apparently too boring and instead dry fried green beans, staple of all Sichuan restaurants was ordered and were a fine example. Making up the vegetable contingent, bitter melon with black beans also came with pork. Not everyone's cup of tea due to it's bitterness, we loved it. Again, pork intestines were so intensely porky that it could have put you off, but not us.
With two bottles of wine, tea, 3 starters, 7 mains, rice and service, the bill came to around £36 a head; more expensive than Golden Day opposite, but a much more pleasurable experience. Service was sweet; a mistaken dish of pickled green beans and minced pork was delivered to us and upon the mistake being pointed out, was gifted to us anyway. Leftovers were boxed up happily. I'll be back.
24 Romilly Street,
London, W1D 5AH
Tel: 020 7287 3266