We had been wandering a neighbourhood in Richmond, B.C., in search of a well reputed Hong Kong style restaurant. However, between an absence of English signs and no address numbers over doors, we gave up. Ravenously hungry, we had to make a quick decision about what to do next.
It's hard to say what, exactly, drew us to Chengdu, but on some instinctive level, we felt it was the right place to go. As soon as we stepped in through the door, the wonderful aromas made it clear this was the right decision.
Chengdu is the capital of the Chinese province of Sichuan. If you love Chinese food, you're probably familiar with the famous lemon-tasting and tingly-feeling Sichuan pepper. The region is also known for creating incredibly flavourful chili oil.
Things were off to a good start when an amuse-bouche from the kitchen showed up at our table. It was pretty simple: Shredded Raw Cabbage Bathed in Chili Oil. Great food doesn't need to be complicated, and this was an excellent way to show off their commitment to quality and their incredible infused chili oil. The cabbage was crunchy, with a natural sweetness that contrasted the complex oil beautifully.
We were in Richmond specifically to explore dumplings. We had seen Sichuan Wontons in a Chili Oil Bath online many times, but had never seen them listed on a menu before.
All those moments drooling over photos suddenly seemed prophetic! These wontons were so silky they were difficult to grab with chopsticks. The chili oil was accented with some rich soy sauce and a little bit of sugar, and loads of garlic. Topped with loads of sesame and green onions, with a healthy addition of the dried chili. The sauce was so good we refused to give it up once the wontons were gone and asked for a bowl of rice. We poured it over our rice, making sure to eat every last grain and every drop of oil.
Since we only had this one chance to dine at Chengdu, we quickly scrolled some online reviews of the restaurant while deciding our next dish. The Dan Dan noodles kept coming up, and it was a dish we'd never had. Tasty ground pork and sui mi ya cai (a preserved vegetable mix) in the very same flavourful oil. There were strong flavours of sesame and cinnamon.
Should we find ourselves in Richmond B.C. again, this spot will definitely be revisited.
2150 Alexandra Rd, Richmond, B.C.
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