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A neighbourhood restaurant in Islington, with a focus on Sichuan cooking.
Back in the day, non-Chinese-speaking fans of the country’s regional cooking could only ponder the meaning of the linguistically off-limits items on the tantalising Chinese-only menu. You’d end up looking on in envy as far more interesting dishes than those you’d ordered came out of the kitchen. So it’s encouraging to find more and more dual-language menus appearing in Chinese restaurants, particularly when they’re in local neighbourhood joints like Islington’s friendly and welcoming Sichuan House.
Sure, you’ll get mainstream staples like (free) prawn crackers, duck and pancakes, or sesame prawn toast, but you’ll also find Sichuan classics of tripe, offal and the mouth-numbingly joyous ma po tofu. Can’t take the heat? The staff are happy to turn it down a tad.
One highlight was a bright dish of dry beans and minced pork: the deep fried and crispy green beans and pork were shot through with a tickling, subtle heat and lip-smacking saltiness: just the thing to team up with a bottle of cold Tsing Tao beer.
Equally impressive was a braised pork hotpot with preserved vegetables, the fat of the thinly sliced belly pork melting in the mouth, cut with the slight sourness of the pickled vegetables. A more traditional Cantonese dish of lamb with ginger and spring onions was as good as you’ll find anywhere in Chinatown, so pleasing a table of mixed tastes and varying degrees of adventurousness is perfectly possible. Having gained entry into the once forbidden menu of regional China, there’s lots more on it we can’t wait to try next time. Bring on the braised beef Sichuan hot pot and stir-fried pig’s liver.
141-142 Upper St
|Price:||Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £70.|
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