China may be home to myriad regional cuisines, but Sichuan’s full-bodied flaves, fiery hues and palate-popping peppercorns make it one of the country’s most sought-after.
With its rich natural resources and sophisticated culinary techniques, UNESCO officially recognised Chengdu as a City of Gastronomy in 2011, but lucky for you, the iconic recipes are widely celebrated far beyond the Sichuan capital. Here are our fave spots to sample the spicy specialities in Beijing.
Perhaps the most popular Sichuan joint in Maomaoland, Sichuan Banshichu (aka Chuan Ban) is perennially packed with residents and nomads alike vying for classic piquant plates. Okay, so you’ll have to brave the endless queues, and limited English is spoken (cue frantic hand gesturing), but the convivial dining room and delectable dishes – including sizzly oil-poached fish, chen bean curd, and twice-cooked fatty pork – do all the fast talking, with top-notch ingreds flown in fresh weekly. 5 Gongyuan Toutiao, Jianguomennei Dajie, Dongcheng
If you’d rather dine in more upscale surrounds, sashay instead to sultry Sanlitun stunner Transit. Crisp, contempo decor sets the scene for chef Huang Chao’s innovative spin on trad plates, including his signature dandan noodles doused in house chilli oil and fresh lime, as well as his beloved spicy Angus Tenderloin Beef. Can’t take the heat? Opt for the slightly milder chicken drizzled in grapefruit vinaigrette and avocado, or slip away for palate-cleansing post-prandies in the plush adjoining lounge. Ganbei!
Looking for a more intimate experience? Join one of Black Sesame Kitchen’s weekly communal events every Tuesday and Friday in the hutong abode’s new digs near The Forbidden City and Jingshan Park. An evening in this quaint courtyard feels more like eating at your Chinese granny’s, with author and chef Jen Lin-Liu prepped in sizzly Sichuan and Northern cuisine. The meal includes 10 courses plus two wine pairings, but mini pre-dinner dumpling classes and cocktail receptions for an additional cost are available on request for private events.
If the idea of mastering your own delicacies tickles your tastebuds, Black Sesame also offers more comprehensive, hands-on cooking class packages in conjunction with seatings, or, join the Sichuan-specific class hosted by The Hutong where you’ll learn how to braze, steam and even ‘dry fry’ Sichuan chillies and peppers, and prepare dishes such as the iconic Mapo dofu and Gongbao (Kung Pao) chook.
The original version of this article was written by LUXE for PenCities.
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