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November 29, 2009

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Larsho's hot new Sichuan

THERE'S a very interesting phenomena among my circle of friends: No matter where they come from, everybody loves Sichuan cuisine. I guess that doesn't only apply to my friends. The increasing popularity of Sichuan-style restaurants in town should be enough proof.

Recently one of my best friends who came from Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province, took me to a brand-new outlet on Nanjing Road W. Acording to him, it is a good mixture of local taste and chilli style to satisfy those always yearning for something new from the cuisine.

After trying menu items recommended by the chef at Larsho Restaurant, I couldn't agree more with the "innovative" and "delicious" comments made by my friend. It's truly a welcome new diner even though I've tried many other options.

Let's start from the beginning. Usually I would order Steamed Chicken with Chilli Sauce, a signature entree for almost every Sichuan restaurant, whose Chinese name literally means chicken that makes your mouth water. But Larsho's menu offers a chef's recommendation °?- Chopped Boiled Chicken in Hot Spicy Sauce.

And it does prove to be mouth-watering. Different from the regular steamed chicken in oily sauce with peanuts, Larsho's chicken delights your taste buds with its fresh delicacy and appropriate saltiness. What's more appealing is that the smart chef adds a bit of sesame sauce to mix with the juicy and spicy chicken meat. Now we understand why it's a chef's recommendation on the menu.

Another cold dish I chose turned out to linger longer on the table and one of my friends even stopped the waiter who tried moving it away to save space for our main courses.

Numb tongue

This dish later became a soothing comfort for our scorching and numb tongues after we tasted so much spicy food. When you dine at Larsho, don't forget to also order the Chilled Mashed Potato with Orange Flavor.

Tasting sweet and sour, the smooth and silky mashed potatoes are a good relief side dish for hot cuisine. Though marked as an entree, you can learn from our experience to save it as a palate salve for incoming spicy main courses.

From the trend-setting menu, we decided to choose a symbolic dish and an adventurous new creation of Sichuan food respectively as our main courses. The Boiled Sliced Catfish in Hot Chilli Oil is a must on every Sichuan restaurant's menu in town, some of which are actually famous for the specialty.

So it's kind of a touchstone for any gourmet when he or she tries a new Sichuan restaurant. Though Larsho doesn't highly boast this dish, its chef didn't disappoint us.

With a whole bowl of red lantern-shaped capsicum floating on the surface, the fish retained its regular visual impact to turn on spice lovers.

However, the first bite of the fish meat was not as hot and numbing as expected. Instead, its mild but delicious taste soon captivated my palate. You can easily distinguish the succulence and freshness of the fish even in the chilli and oily sauce.

A traditional saying tells us the reason why Sichuan cuisine's emphasis on spice may derive from the region's warm and humid climate. So Larsho's chef takes an interesting approach to its Fried Sliced Beef with Ginger in Spice Sauce.

Many Sichuan restaurants prefer shuizhu (water cooked) beef with hot seasoning, but Larsho uses an application of ginger to mix with the traditional pepper. The new approach made the beef taste tender and juicy, plus a little exotic.

The dining environment at Larsho was another pleasant surprise, especially on the high-end Nanjing Road W.

Unlike many noisy and smoky Sichuan restaurants, Larsho's bright and elegant interior design with a huge traditional Chinese painting of a peony on the wall makes it a stand-out choice for not only friends gathering, but also business functions.

Its service in general is also more attentive than some other Sichuan eateries.


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