Sichuan Bloggers Dinner
Chinese food is a cuisine that I know little about, having spent a week in Guangzhou and just two days in Beijing, my food adventures extended to finding out about Chefs’ love of ‘nose to tail’ especially in garnishes and visiting a snake restaurant, where the snakes’ heart and blood were prized over. When Mark (the GM at Seventeen), a Sichuan-Chinese restaurant, in Notting Hill invited me to a bloggers dinner, I accepted but hoped that tripe and exotic meat were off the menu…
My only knowledge of Sichuan, was of the peppercorns and of course their inclusion in five spice seasoning, one of my favourites. Therein, I knew it was going to be a ‘hot’ dinner… I was welcomed into the basement of this Chinoserie decorated restaurant and a glass of sparkling wine to start off the proceedings. Pre-starter nibbles included boiled peanuts and pickled vegetables
Seventeen Skewers Platter – had grilled lamb, that had been marinated in cumin and fiery Sichuan chilli
Sichuan style fish – This was a dish that involved poaching the soft grouper fish and then leaving to infuse in oil with a bountiful amount of red chillies
We were asked if we’d like the chillies strained off, the usual presentation to table, but the daring table resisted and went in for the kill…
You can see from the photo below, we didn’t even manage to make a dent on the chillies, as there was an immense amount of them.
Sichuan Beef shank – This was served cold, a mouth quelching contrast to the heat of the previous dish. It was also a stand-out dish as the meat was so tender and soft, that I think the Chef may have used a velveting technique, in the preparation
Chongqing Chicken – This was another cold dish, but fiery in it’s concoction of dried red chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and sesame seeds. I wasn’t a fan of this, as it was a little greasy and not sure how I felt about it’s temperature, I’m okay with a cold salad, but not so with ‘curry’ type dishes
Wok fried Gai Lan – I loved the heady quantity of garlic laced through this dish, certainly enough to keep the vampires away but taste buds in check
Twice cooked pork – suitably fatty from using pork belly, the pork had a good contrast against crunchy vegetables and soft chillies
Dry fried green beans with minced pork – another stand-out dish and reminded me of the Laon dish, Laab, a great side dish to perk up rice with
There has been a common thread with all the mains and side dishes to this point and that is – CHILLIES, this restaurant certainly challenges the Scoville scale barometer, but done in an artful way. I’m not going to lie, it’s hot, I didn’t suffer from heart-burn, but did need a good cool down and certainlly made my heart race a little faster…
For the cooling down period, a helping hand was given with a dessert of Mango pudding, just like a soft set mousse
Next up were mochi balls (I know traditionally Japanese, but looking at their dessert menu, there’s usually only western dishes, so this was a trial) – glutinous rice balls stuffed with a sweet black seasame filling and rolled in crushed peanuts. I’ve tried these once, before at Feng Sushi and preferred these ones because of the contrast of the crunchy exterior to the soft centre
Finally came Chinese tea, served in a dainty pot and cups. This was well indeed to soothe and aid digestion for the night
This is a Chinese restaurant that offers a mix of the typical dishes a westerner would expect and want as well as authentic dishes that would appeal to a native (such as tripe and the several abalone dishes – or perhaps that is catering to the Notting Hill set?). It ticks boxes and the prices seem reasonable (for Notting Hill) at £38 for a set dinner menu.
Thanks to our host Mark and Chefs on the night, for the entertaining evening and complimentary meal
I really want to find out more about the cuisine and dishes, so I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be perusing Fuchsia Dunlop’s blog and reading her memoir: Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper!
Website: http://seventeen-london.com/Address: Seventeen, 17 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3JQ Telephone no: 0207 985 0006