[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] Flavors of Qian at ๐—š๐˜‚๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ต๐—ผ๐˜‚ ๐—š๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป

Guizhou (or Qian) cuisine is a close counterpart of the more widely-known Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.

In the landlocked central part of China, Guizhou province is sandwiched between Sichuan and Hunan provinces, and all three cuisines share a common love for spiking their food with copious amounts of dried chilis. Guizhou cuisineโ€™s trademark characteristic is the combination of spicy and sour flavors of most of its dishes. The tongue-numbing chili levels in Guizhouโ€™s trademark dishes easily match those of its Sichuan and Hunan cousins.

Guizhou Garden is one of the few restaurants in KL offering Guizhou cuisine, and a couple of my KL friends (who are Cantonese) decided that we should test our stomachsโ€™ constitution one evening with our maiden foray into Guizhou food. Singaporeans & Malaysians are used to the presence of chilis in our food since the time we were weaned off milk - so, how bad can Guizhou cuisine be? Quite a bit actually, as I was to find out.

Our dinner that evening consisted of:

  1. Sliced pork belly, cooked with pickled cabbage, dried and fresh red chili peppers, coriander, Chinese prickly ash, ginger, scallions, sesame oil and copious amounts of chili-spiked oil. The pork belly slices were fatty & deliciously-rich, but the absolutely fiery-hot amounts of lร o guล lร  (Chinese: ็ƒ™้”…่พฃ) - spice-flavored chili flakes in oil - seemed to drown out all other flavors.

  2. Pan-fried batons of tofu, stewed in a spicy-hot-sour sauce and topped with fresh-cut red and green chilis. On the surface, this dish looked like most of the other types of claypot-cooked casseroles quite common in Cantonese cooking. But there, the similarity ends.
    What I remembered most about this Guizhou version was that one gets hit by different waves of chili-spiciness that came one after another. Itโ€™s like oneโ€™s taste-buds were being assailed with different levels of pain. I didnโ€™t remember tasting anything else in that dish. :joy:

  3. Stir-fried snow peas, lotus root, carrots, celery and black wood-ear fungus. This is a standard mixed vegetable combination that is common across most Chinese regional cuisines, but the version here didnโ€™t have the light, subtly-flavored ginger-chicken stock-Shaoxing wine taste profile one finds in the Cantonese version. Weโ€™re not sure if thatโ€™s a Guizhou interpretation, or itโ€™s just the chefโ€™s own rendition.

The vegetablesโ€™ fresh crispiness was a redeeming feature somewhat.

  1. By then, my Cantonese dinner companions were about to throw in the towel: our tongues felt like multiple staples had been driven into them.

But then, thatโ€™s when the piรจce de rรฉsistance arrived - it was this beautiful platter of steamed carp, sliced lengthwise in half, and topped with zฤo lร  (Chinese: ็ณŸ่พฃ) - preserved minced chili pepper with ginger and garlic.

There were enough minced chilis in there to put hairs on oneโ€™s chest, with copious amounts of minced ginger, chopped coriander and scallions for added flavors.

Glass noodles, which lent an additional textural dimension to the dish, were provided - to soak up the spicy ever-present chili-oil gravy,

It was one of the spiciest dishes Iโ€™d ever had in my life! Each sip of the chili-oil gravy was like a scorpionโ€™s sting!

Quite an experience - and strictly for chili-heads!

Address
Guizhou Garden Restaurant (่ดตๅทž่‹‘)
57, Jalan Changkat Thamby Dollah (off Jalan Pudu), 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +60 16-387 7572
Opening hours: 10.30am to 8pm daily.

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I donโ€™t have a great tolerance of chilli. I do battle my way through the offerings at the Sichuan place in Manchesterโ€™s Chinatown. When this place first opened, it was a big hit with the local regulars posting to eGullet. A poached lamb dish was the one folk raved over. I always wimped out ordering it. But, recently, they introduced a pork version and I decided to try. Well, theyโ€™ve either toned it down or the eGullet folk were just big softies, as it wasnt at all out of the way for heat.

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I was about to say that if the dish was spicy already, all that heat was going to make this glass noodle probably the hottest glass noodle everโ€ฆ!!! :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper: :hot_pepper:

Where did the chef come from, Guizhou?

The only time I ate Guizhou food, it was a Guiyang noodle dish. The broth had a good dose of flavors from Chinese herbs/ medicine, which tasted a bit soapy, lol. It wasnโ€™t that hot, however.

Yes, the head chef was from Guizhou, but he was assisted by a Sichuanese assistant chef and two local KL chefs, very likely Cantonese.