Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sichuan Province Government Restaurant (Chuan Ban Can Ting), Beijing, China

Sichuan, a south western chinese province, dates back to the 15th Century BC.  Sichuan, with over 80 million people, is home to the Giant Panda preserve in the capital Chengdu.  In 1997, Chongqing, the world’s largest city with 29 million people, was split off of Sichuan to form it’s own municipality.  To put that in perspective, it’s about the size of the 16 largest US cities, combined.

But what has made Sichuan truely world famous is its cuisine.  Known for its spice, the very word Sichuan has become synonymous with heat.  from chinatowns the world over, Sichuan cooking has made its way into the fabric of global culture.  And while Sichuanese cooking is famous, it is not known for being refined.  That is, until you have the real deal.

Beijing, as China’s capital city, is home to representatives from all of its provinces.  Chuan Ban Can Ting is the restaurant owned and run by the Sichuan Provincial Government Office in Beijing.  And it is spectacularly delicious.

Of particular note is the Kung Pao Xia, Fried Prawn Balls with Chili Sauce.  Now, for a full disclosure, I am NOT a fan of Kung Pao.  It is a staple of every bad Chinese restuarant; made everywhere, rarely well.  But this dish convinced me of why Kung Pao is so popular.  It is because the real dish is so damn good.  Perfectly cooked, succulent king prawns, crunchy, earthy peanuts, scallions and red chilis come together with to form a balanced, sweet and firey dish.  And that is what is so surprising.  It’s sweet with a strong base of heat that is left simmering by the peanuts.  Amazing.

Mixed Yong Soybeans with Vegetables
Lobber Chicken
Sauteed Pea Sprouts
Fried Prawn Balls with Chili Sauce (Kung Pao Xia)
Duck Smoked with Tea Leaves
Sichuan Cold Noodles
Young Chicken Chongqing Style
Clear Rice Noodles in Chili Sauce


Churros in China, Old Hutong, Beijing

Jesse (Ji Shi) Restaurant, Shanghai

Jesse serves traditional Shanghaiese cuisine in an “it’s all about the food” setting. And the food is excellent. Fresh ingredients cooked perfectly with delicately balanced flavors and heat. The massive Braised King Prawn is exceptionally juicy and served in a “lick the plate clean” sauce that is as colorful as it is delicious. The Noodles with Scallion Oil, topped with dried seaweed, is a true standout, make your reputation kind of dish. And the Shredded Pork tastes like it was “born in the sauce” (to borrow a well-worn phrase from an LA staple Mexican joint).

Mixed Mushroom with Beancurd Sheet
Mixed Eggplant
Shredded Pork in Chili Sauce
Braised King Prawns with Chili Sauce
Braised Beancurd with Chiui Sauce (garlic, chili, pork)
Noodles with Scallion Oil
Shanghai Vegetable Rice