Saturday, December 10, 2022

Long Lunch Part 3: Grand Majestic Sichuan

Perhaps no non-Chinese has written more about Sichuan cuisine than Fuchsia Dunlop and when she's in town recently to introduce the new menu at Grand Majestic Sichuan where she worked as a consultant, I was intrigued to check it out at a special preview lunch. 

The restaurant proved to be a popular one since its opening a few months ago, with the full house of customers on a random weekday afternoon. I think we were given an extended menu co-created with their new head chef Theign Phan with more than a dozen dishes served. We started with a series of cold appetizers served at the same time. I love the Bang Bang Chicken with local Ping Yuan cockerel meat poached and tossed with a spicy sesame sauce with leek and peanut garnishes. "Fu Qi Fei Pian" 夫妻肺片 was another mouth-watering dish with thin slices of beef shin and tongues served served with spicy and aromatic chili oil.

Then a few more courses appeared in more substantial portion. The Gong Bao lobster 宮保龍蝦 was done with the well-balanced gong bao sauce with the meat picked from the whole Australian spiny lobster. It's slightly spicy but was just right in terms of flavor. I like the idea of Mapo Tofu served with hairy crab, combining the classic Sichuan dish with the popular seasonal ingredient of Shanghainese hairy crabs, but I thought it does require a lot more hair crab meat and roes to make this work as I found the "Mapo" flavor overwhelmingly rich to get anything out of the crabs. "Suan Cai You Yu" 酸菜魷魚was a twist to the traditional Suan Cai Yu, with the same fish broth seasoned with pickled cabbage served with squid rather than fish fillet. I like the texture from the bouncy squid, but I think the fish fillet would have done a better job in taking the flavor from the broth - so may be a version with both so we get the best from both side of the world? 

Fuchsia obviously wanted to make a point that Sichuan food is not always about chilies and peppercorns with a few interesting selections of dishes. The "Fen Zheng Hei Tun" 粉蒸黑豚 reminded me of the classic Cantonese dimsum for which scores of ingredients were wrapped with sticky rice than lotus leaf and steamed. This version - which we were told is classic Sichuan - was done in a similar fashion but with the rice mashed and stuffed with spicy Kurobuta pork belly. Got this same hearty flavor. 

The stir-fried celtuce was another of my favorite, with finely julienned celtuce cooked with a touch of chilies and garlic with all the appetizing flavor and crunchy texture - after all the spicy dishes we had this tasted almost like sweet. With all the rich flavor I thought the pear and osmanthus sorbet was a perfect end to cool us down on the palate with something refreshing. 

Their somm Phenol poured us a few interesting choices to go with the dishes, starting with the champagne, then a dry riesling from Ningxia Province and ended with a "Pinot-bland" from Australia (Pinot Noir + Pinot Meunier + Pinot Gris) The low tannins with plenty of red fruit characters made this a good choice against the rich-flavored dishes. 

When? November 22 2022
Where? Grand Majestic Sichuan, Shop 301 Alexandra House, 18 Chater Road, Central
Menu Highlights? Fen Zheng Hei Tun - spicy steamed Kurobuta pork belly with rice meal in lotus leaf
Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee Brut NV
2020 Yuandian Dry Riesling, Ningxia, China
2021 Ridley Pinot x Three, Adelaide Hills, Australia

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