Seventeen hosted a wonderful bloggers’ event tonight. As a Sichuan girl, I intended to judge the food harshly against the ultimate – my parents’ cooking – and I came away feeling reasonably satisfied.
When asked if I wanted white or red wine, I struggled for a moment. Then I realised that I never order wine with Chinese food, because there’s always white meat, red meat, fish, and a zillion conflicting spices. Beer is a good option, which helps if the chilli gets too much, but I usually stick to green tea.
The first course was lamb skewers seasoned with cumin (羊肉串). Always a favourite, and this did not disappoint. The only minor issue is that Seventeen is a classy establishment, and there is no possible way of eating these gracefully. Just sayin’.
Next came the beef shank in hot and spicy sauce (麻辣牛健). This was authentic and flavourful, and I believe it was a universal success among my fellow bloggers too.
Sichuan-style fish (水煮辣椒鱼) literally translates to ‘water boiled fish’. Don’t let the deceptively-mild name fool you. This is usually a beast of a dish, swimming in a fluorescent sea of chilli peppers. The one that Seventeen served to us was milder than a fully authentic one would be… but I genuinely thank them for that. I have Sichuan blood, so occasionally I do enjoy eating a chilli dish so hot that I have to take regular breaks to let my tongue recover. But this dish had the right balance of fragrant chilli oil, but not too much of a kick so we didn’t have to sit there sweating.
Not much to say about the green beans with chilli and pork mince. Or the Chinese broccoli with garlic (清炒芥兰). Both were nice and fresh, but they’re pretty hard to get wrong…
To be honest, I rarely choose chicken when there’s other meats available. But the Chongqing chicken (重庆口水鸡) had me picking at it until there was no more, so they must have done something right!
Okay, now the twice-cooked pork belly (回锅肉). I got excited when this dish was announced, because it’s one of my all-time favourites. Not least because my parents make the best one in the world. I still maintain they do, but Seventeen did a very respectable alternative.
After dinner came tea with dessert – black sesame mochi and mango pudding. I can’t actually name a single dessert that I associate with Sichuan. Come to think of it, I never even have dessert when I go out for Chinese food. This is because I will have already stuffed myself silly. (The same goes for carbs. I only eat half a portion of rice or noodles, to leave maximum room for the meat, fish and veg!) But I do admit it was nice to have a bite of sweetness to soothe that chilli fire.
It was great to meet so many other bloggers too – here’s a shout out to Ken, Selina, Dini, James, Alice, Giulia, Jason and Tiffany. And finally, a big thank you to lovely Mark for hosting us. The service was just as impeccable as the food, and 加油 for your business!