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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Our favourite Sichuan in London!

'Sichuan folk appetizer platter' (from top clockwise): pickled carrots and daikon,
numbing and hot dry beef, green beans in ginger sauce,  spare ribs and
'Sichuan Folk special flavoured cold chicken' (chilli / peanut / sesame sauce), 
Cloud ear fungus with coriander
'Twice-cooked' fish
Seaweed and egg soup
Dry-fried potatoes
Sichuan curry beef stew with potatoes and corainder
Cucumber and peanuts in garlic/chilli sauce
'Numbing and hot' fried chicken wings
Pork slivers with garlic sprouts
'Traditional boiled fish slice' (fish fillets cooked in chilli oil and sichuan pepper)
'Ants climbing a tree' (beanthread noodles with minced pork and chillies
Stir-fried potatoes with vinegar and chillies
Rice is nice
LOCATION: Sichuan Folk, 32 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR
CATEGORY: Chinese, Sichuan Chinese
DRINK: Tea, water, beer
WE THINK: Since Sichuan Folk opened in the fall of 2010, we've been more than 10 times and the above photos show a few of the things we've eaten. Once we ordered delivery but as they didn't own a vehicle (they were too embarrassed to say so) our food was delivered on foot. Once we went to eat but there was a power failure on the block so the chef could only prepare cold appetizers which were served by candlelight. Once the only other guests were a group of loud, drunken Chinese girls who had been singing in Sichuan Folk's karaoke room. We later met them in the bathroom where one of them was throwing up. A couple of months ago we went three times in a week! We've made friends with the likable manager, Chao ("when I was in Italy, everyone was shouting my name ha ha ha"), who came to Sichuan Folk from Orange on Oxford Street where he used to sell mobile phones. The head chef is more familiar with the restaurant business - he is the former chef at the good but pricey Ba Shu in Soho (sister restaurant of Ba Shan) which is evident from the high quality of the food he cooks. We really, really like this place! The food is excellent, authentic, spicy and relatively inexpensive. Favourites that we've ordered over and over include the fungus, chicken wings, potatoes, boiled fish slices, cucumbers and ants climbing a tree (all spicy). The other cold starters on the menu are delicious, too (e.g. the cold noodles with chicken and the century eggs). In fact, everything we've ever had here has been delicious EXCEPT FOR the hot pot (chinese soup-based 'fondue') which was a disappointing affair and not worth ordering. It's not on par with the rest of the menu and very far from as good as what you'll get in China - the main problem being the quality of the ingredients (especially the seafood) that are provided with your hot pot on an all-you-can-eat basis.
OUR TIPS: It's best to go to Sichuan Folk if you like spicy food since the majority of the items on the menu are very spicy (and 'numbing' from the Sichuan peppers). It's not worth ordering the seafood dishes though the fish dishes are usually good. And, to state the obvious, come with a big group so you can try more dishes!

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