[Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia] Flavors of Qian at 𝗚𝘂𝗶𝘇𝗵𝗼𝘂 𝗚𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗲𝗻

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 cuisine’s trademark characteristic is the combination of spicy and sour flavors of most of its dishes. The tongue-numbing chili levels in Guizhou’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 stomachs’ 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 lào guō là (Chinese: 烙锅辣) - 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. It’s like one’s taste-buds were being assailed with different levels of pain. I didn’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 didn’t have the light, subtly-flavored ginger-chicken stock-Shaoxing wine taste profile one finds in the Cantonese version. We’re not sure if that’s a Guizhou interpretation, or it’s just the chef’s own rendition.

The vegetables’ 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, that’s when the pièce de résistance arrived - it was this beautiful platter of steamed carp, sliced lengthwise in half, and topped with zāo là (Chinese: 糟辣) - preserved minced chili pepper with ginger and garlic.

There were enough minced chilis in there to put hairs on one’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 I’d ever had in my life! Each sip of the chili-oil gravy was like a scorpion’s sting!

Quite an experience - and strictly for chili-heads!

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


I don’t have a great tolerance of chilli. I do battle my way through the offerings at the Sichuan place in Manchester’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, they’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 ever…!!! :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 wasn’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.