For those who are familiar with formal banquets in China, you would know the pomp and circumstance that surround these events. Yes, this place has brought the impression up a notch.
One is led through a narrow corridor surrounded by bamboos and water features. Walking through an ancient door, you are brought back to the middle kingdom (5th century AD). The interior of the banquet hall is really impressive, with a catwalk runway in the middle and a professional stage for performance.
Besides the banquet hall, the restaurant has two other venues on site, a slightly less elaborate dining hall, and a private rooms only dining courtyard.
The banquet had 16 courses in total – 8 appetisers, 8 main courses (only 10 were in the picture) – and only one course (水晶虾炒腰果 Sweet and sour prawns with cashew nuts) was not spicy. Yes, even their soup has peppercorn in them.
They serve traditional Sichuan dishes, like
- 牙签牛肉 Toothpick beef – little bites of beef, marinated in heavy Sichuan spices and fried in oil and then stir fried with copious amount of chilli. Every little bite is packed with heat from the chilli and numbness from the peppercorn.
- 野香菜拌牛健 Spicy beef shank with wild celery – a very classic rendition of Sichuan appetisers that involve taking unsavoury parts of the animals, like shank, stomach, lungs, etc and infused them in a Sichuan spicy bath.
- 招牌土鳝鱼 Signature catfish in Sichuan spice – Chengdu is surrounded by rivers and catfish is the commoner fish. They have elevated the very humble, muddy tasting freshwater fish to another level with their spices.
- 土豆烧甲鱼 Turtle and potato stew – this is one of my favourite dish in China, period, the classic SOB. In the stew is a whole turtle with quail eggs and potato, and of course, cooked in Sichuan spices. Turtle is also called 王八 (because of the patterns on the back of the shell that looked like the Chinese characters) and is derogatory term to refer to people. So, the Chinese equivalent of SOB is 王八蛋 (eggs of a turtle) – you know what I mean 😉
- 芦笋小炒肉 Pork belly with local asparagus – thinly sliced pork belly (like bacon) is stir fried with a very fibrous local asparagus and then braised in its own sauce. Classic home cooked dish that has made its way onto banquet tables.
The food is OK, but not top notch, given that you have to serve 20 tables at the same time. One problem is the summer days in Chengdu. It is not called one of the four Cauldrons of China for nothing. Even with the air-conditioning on at full blast, we were all sweating in the cavernous hall. The baijiu did not help as well. I was just glad the dinner was over quickly.
Leisure Pavilion 闲亭七贤同
Tel : 028-65999900
Date Visited : Aug 2019