Chef Robert Wong’s excellent Suan Cai Yu at Grand Majestic Sichuan

Sichuan delicacies is all concerning the flavours, not simply the spice. And chef Robert Wong perfects it at Grand Majestic Sichuan, particularly with the bitter, spicy and completely mouth-numbing Suan Cai Yu.

Contrary to a sorely misunderstood widespread perception, Sichuan meals isn’t all spice and sweat. It’s really a really complicated profile of over 20 multi-layered flavours that sit on a wider spectrum of spicy, garlicky, candy, tingling, bitter, savoury, bitter, flowery and smokey. In truth, majority of the dishes within the delicacies will not be very spicy in any respect. Sichuan flavours fall below its personal class of mala (麻辣), which mixes each the mouth-numbing sensation of Sichuan peppers in má (麻), and warmth from the chillies in là (辣).

It’s one thing that Robert Wong, then one-Michelin star Chilli Fagara alum, and now, head chef at Black Sheep Restaurant’s glitzy new Sichuan supper membership, hopes to dispel along with his menu at Grand Majestic Sichuan, created in collaboration with chef, cookbook creator and 4 instances James Beard awardee, Fuchsia Dunlop.

Chef Robert Wong, head chef at Grand Majestic Sichuan

Dunlop, a recognised skilled in Chinese delicacies, spent 25 meticulous years learning every thing Chinese gastronomy needed to train. She has penned her learnings with influential books that discover the wealthy and in depth world of Chinese cooking in acute element, particularly Sichuan delicacies, with reputation spanning from throughout the globe, together with China the place translated editions have been revealed: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper (2008), Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China (2016) and The Food of Sichuan (2019) amongst others.

Grand Majestic Sichuan’s menu, within the very succesful palms of Wong and Dunlop, is guided by an in-depth understanding of flavours coupled with conventional cooking techqniues of the area. An genuine showcase of the breadth of Sichuan delicacies, the dishes right here strikes away from a sole concentrate on mala and incorporates different flavour parts akin to “suanni wei” (蒜泥味, or garlic paste flavour) which provides and elevate to the Sichuanese expertise and embrace the distinct fragrant vary on the palate.

Facing Heaven Chillis, or Chaotianjiao (朝天椒), is a small, plump chilli of reasonably scorching and aromatic flavours, used to balances the umami of every dish.
Sichuan Peppercorn (四川花椒), a vital ingredient in Sichuan cooking, chargeable for the mouth tingling, numbing impact.

As an outdated Sichuan saying goes, “Each dish has it own style, a hundred dishes have a hundred different flavours.”

Wong provides, “Sichuan cuisine is often misunderstood. There is an expectation that all of the dishes in the cuisine are going to be a certain kind of spicy, but most of the dishes do not fall into the category. Great Sichuan food is about forming an overall symphony of flavours. It should have an incredible depth and complexity.”

Within the substantial menu of chilly appetisers, wok-tossed mains, slow-simmered soups, broths, stews and avenue snacks, one stands out as a quintessential dish of the delicacies, having met a diversified profile of flavours and being a dish that’s loved throughout the nation. Here in Hong Kong, you’ll discover eating places devoted solely to the singular dish: Suan Cai Yu (酸菜魚) or line-caught grouper stew with picked mustard greens, a searing-hot, soupy broth of simmering slices of evenly deep-fried fish, bean sprouts, chillis and picked mustard greens that are without delay spicy, candy, bitter, savoury and umami.

The excellent Suan Cai Yu, as Wong explains, is one among balanced flavour — “Not too spicy, or too sour which will overshadow the sweetness and umami of the fish”. And the fish at Grand Majestic Sichuan is the utter customary.

Suan Cai Yu, line-caught grouper stew with pickled mustard greens (HK$298)

Making picked mustard greens of their very own, Wong is ready to manipulate the elements to finest complement and fulfil the satisfying flavours of an genuine bowl of Suan Cai Yu. Traditional rice vinegar is swapped out for lychee vinegar for stronger aromatics and a satisfying sharp sourness; whereas the historically milky white broth is changed with a clearer base, with added sweetness from the carrots, bay leaves and onions.

“Our in-house recipe combines the strong fish flavour with just a bit of sour from the mustard greens, spice from the chillis and, of course, the from the Sichuan peppercorns that are so important to the cuisine.” Wong says. “It is not only a colourful dish, but one that brings the palate on a journey through the cuisine.”

ChongQing Lai Zi Ji, firecracker native “three-yellow” rooster with heaven going through chillis (HK$308)

As you now perceive, the key to Sichuan delicacies is within the flavour. And flavours, nonetheless massive or small, are fastidiously extracted from the varied sauces, elements and parts to create a well-rounded journey of Sichuan delicacies. For Grand Majestic Sichuan’s Suan Cai Yu, its the hero of the dish, the fish. Chosen relying on seasonality, the fish provides umami to the olive inexperienced broth that Wong mentions is finest served with potato noodles (be sure to get additional parts!). The dish’s normal Mandarin Fish is interchanged between completely different species to supply the mandatory sweetness or freshness, together with Sole, Giant Grouper and Golden Pomfret.

“It’s what has the best flavour at the time of the season,” Wong says. And they do tastings with the fish usually.

A Sichuan-native himself, Wong singles out the Ma Po Dou Fu as a favorite of his personal. Other must-try: Bang Bang Ji, poached native “three-yellow” rooster in sesame sauce; Hong You Chao Shou, pork wontons in candy soy and chilli oil; Chen Pi Niu Rou, grass-fed beef tenderloin with ten year-aged tangerine peel; and ChongQing La Zi Ji, firecracker native “three-yellow” rooster with heaven going through chillis.

“I hope to breathe new life into Sichuan cuisine in the city,” Wong continues. “Showcase the balanced flavours and complexity of the dishes, all while seeing the familiar flavours of Sichuan through a fine-dining lens. Sichuan cuisine is in my blood, it is my family and my heritage.”

Grand Majestic Sichuan is open Tuesday to Sunday from 6 to 10pm. Reservations might be made right here.

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