Tuesday, June 23, 2009

麻辣烫 Chilli Fagara for Fiery Sichuan Food in Hong Kong Central

Chilli Fagara is another Michelin star restaurant, quite near to Yung Kee, known for their fiery Sichuan dishes. Many of their dishes are cooked with the"bullet" chilli from Sichuan China. For folks with low chilli threshold, these red stouty chilli's have the ability to cause swelling on thelips, tears falling profusely from the eyes and perspiration expelled from all possible hair folicles. These all occurred to me and I'm glad to survived it all to share my experience.

The restaurant is a small cosy set-up with dark wooden tables and red walls. Sporadically placed orange lights from the ceiling provides some luminescence injecting some life into the, otherwise, dim ambience. The menu had a red background with black descriptions.

Inside the menu, were dishes categorized as;

麻 MA, spicy hot till the level of numbness
辣 LA, spicy hot
烫 TANG, only temperature hot, the mildest of hotness.

These 3 Chinese characters forms the Chinese name of Chilli Fagara and they are being painted on the sign board outside the restaurant. We were advised to start from 烫 TANG to 辣 LA and, finally, to 麻 MA for the sequence of increasing levels of hotness.

First we were served the appetizers (HK$60), that give our taste buds a warm-up of the 麻 MA, 辣 LA, 烫 TANG before hitting the main dishes. These little appetizers we reserved in petite size glazed China, just like Chinese wine cups. The 烫 TANG was represented with hot noodles, 辣 LA with spicy cabbage and the 麻 MA with very spicy transparent vermicelli.

Our 烫 TANG dish is the Lettuce Wrap (HK$176). There is a different choice of meat for the filling for the wrap. We chose pork that was stir fried with some string beans which formed the filling for our wrap.I liked the sauce used in the stir-up as it had a mild sweetness. The lettuce and string beans gives every bite a certain crunchiness.

Close up of the Lettuce Wrap.

We chose two 辣 LA, dishes, the soft shell crab and the prawn that was cooked with the "bullet" chilli.

Red Hot Chilli Prawn (HK$228) - The prawns were presented right on top of this ceramic pot. Digging deeper will only unveil more "bullet" chilli.

Prawns coated with generous amount of these "unconventional" chilli.

Chilli Softshell Crab (HK$198) - Yes I know that the softshell crabs are overwhelmed by the abundance of redness. The yellow pieces were the softshell crab.

Our final 麻 MA dish, was the Pearl of the Orient (HK$118), lychee with chicken made into"balls of fire". This dish is tasty but the spicy hotness will catch up very fast with your enjoyment of this dish.

The Pearl of the Orient (Balls of Fire to me) up close.

The TANG dish was not spicy hot but the LA and MA dishes were challenging for me. As all the folks in my party were done, I went ahead to clear up all the food. For this feat, I've awarded myself the purple heart medal.

HY got a very low threshold for chilli and so she was persistent in ignoring all attempts to taunt her into getting a mouthful of fiery. She had the most fun that night watching me try to eat every morsel, trying with every attempt to avoid rubbing any chilli sauce on my lips.

We got the chance to chat up with the manager who told us that only very little of the "bullet" chillis were used for the dishes. The dried "bullet" chillis, quite obvious in the dishes, were merely for adornment. I can't imagine if that whole load of red "bullets" were unleashed.

The saviour of the night was my glass of hot flower tea (HK$38). With every prawn, or chicken and crab, I'll take a sip of the flower tea to wash off the spiciness. This is an interesting Hong Kong Michelin Star Sichuan Food experience for me.

One more thing I did appreciate was the strong the air conditioning for cooling purpose. Not for the food, but the people eating them.

Shop E, G/F, 51A Graham Street, SoHo, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : (852) 2893 3330
Opening Hours : Lunch 11:30am ~ 2:30pm Dinner 5:00pm ~ 11:30pm
Chilli Fagara Website

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