Spice is nice, especially when it's from Sichuan
Chef Du Fei from the Shangri-La Chengdu cooks his final round of Sichuan specialities today at Next2. Give them a try
For the last week, Next2 Cafe at the Shangri-La Bangkok has been playing host to an expert in Sichuan cuisine from the Shangri-La Hotel in Chengdu. Sadly, chef Du Fei is flying home tomorrow but you can still sample some of the almost 40 selected dishes featured in the Sichuan station at both the lunch or dinner buffets today.
With strong flavours and vivid colours, Sichuan food is spicy, sour and oily, the result of being prepared with many types of spiced chillies and local herbs according. Du Fei, who has more than 20 years experience in the kitchen, learned how to cook Sichuan |food at the age of 16 and in 2003, landed the Famous Cuisine| Chef Award. He's also served some of his creative cuisine to Chinese superstars Chow Yun Fat and Jay Zhou.
Back home in Chengdu, his signature dishes include marinated Black Fungus with chilli and sweetened black vinegar sauce |and meat in soup, which is also |on offer at Next2. He uses three kinds of spicy chilli from Chengdu to make his curry spices along with chuan jiao, the tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper and ground |dried chillies mixed with aromatic mala sauce.
"Sichuan food is flavourful, because we have a diversity of spiced chillies from which to choose. The vegetables in China are smoother and sweeter, while our chillies are more aromatic and spicier than those in Thailand because of the differences in climate," Du Fei explains.
To please the Thai palate, he |has prepared dishes with local ingredients and reduced both the saltiness and oil. His specialities include marinated chicken in spicy sauce, smoked duck with tealeaves, simmered beef with glutinous noodles in hot and sour broth, simmered fish with vegetables and assorted mushrooms in spiced chilli oil and Sichuan peppercorn Chongqing style.
We thoroughly enjoyed the mellow, marinated assorted mushroom in sesame oil, the redolent, deep-fried fish in sesame as well as the super spicy stir-fried chicken with dried chilli.
Also worth savouring is the braised bean curd with Sichuan peppercorn and spicy sauce, stir-fried beef with picked chilli, sliced ox tripe with celery in chilli oil and a warming double boiled soup that's made with chicken.
Next2's regular lunch buffet is priced at Bt888. Dinner costs Bt1,400 Sunday to Thursday and Bt1,600 on Friday and Saturday. Today's Sichuan station costs Bt500 for lunch and Bt850 for dinner.
Next 2 Cafe is situated on the ground floor of Shangri-La Hotel. It's open daily from 6.30pm to midnight. Call (02) 236 9952 or visit www.BangkokRiversideDining.com