Sichuan Delicacies For All Seasons At The Royal Garden’s Dong Lai Shun
Famed for their exquisite interpretations of Beijing and Huaiyang cuisine, from the iconic steamboat hot pot with sliced mutton to their seasonal hairy crab dishes, Dong Lai Shun has long been known as the place to enjoy these regional specialties. The regional Chinese restaurant has diversified its offerings to include more Sichuan offerings—going beyond the expected hot pot, to also include casseroles and stir-fries that celebrate the variety of spices and chillies found in the cuisine.
At the forefront of Dong Lai Shun’s culinary innovation is executive chef Sze Chiu-Kwan, who joined Dong Lai Shun in 2004, bringing his rich experience in crafting Shanghainese and Huaiyang cuisine. Over the years, Sze has demonstrated the extent of his expertise in regional Chinese cuisines, having created the restaurant’s now famous signatures, such as the wok-fried crabmeat and rock lobster with salted egg yolk on rice crackers.
Sze steers Dong Lai Shun in a new direction to include Sichuan dishes, with a series of wok-fried dishes with fiery chillies and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. The new collection of Sichuan dishes include chilled baby geoduck with chilli oil. The zingy dressing combines garlic, ginger, parsley, fresh chillies, vinegar, and the chilli bean sauce, dressing the sliced baby geoduck to create a refreshing cold starter, an excellent prelude to a Sichuan feast.
Sze’s wok-fried spicy prawns in chilli with dried tofu and peanuts is packed with chopped dried chillies, which form a mound upon which the prawns are served. The prawns are first deep-fried, and then returned to the wok to be tossed in chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Another dish of poached mandarin fish fillet with chives and bean sprouts in spicy soup is a welcoming surprise. A generous bowl holds butterflied slices of deboned Mandarin fish. The key to this dish’s popularity lies in the surprising intensity of the broth. Sze takes fiery orange chillies, chopped and cured in salt before adding them into chicken broth to create a fiery elixir that is deceptively simple, but with high level of heat that sneaks up on you right after the freshness from the generous portion of chives subside.
The restaurant has historically found much success in its winter hot pot offerings, and so might their new wok-fried chicken with chillies in casserole, which is richly spiked with crushed fresh and dried chillies. The hearty pieces of chicken are flavoured with an abundance of shallots, ginger, garlic, and green onions, adding to the sweet and spicy aroma. But it is poached local beef neck in Sichuan style that is the showstopping dish from the Sichuan menu. Sze takes the beef neck cut, a popular cut most frequently used in traditional hot pot, and cooks them quickly in a hot broth flavoured with cassia bark, bay leaves, Sichuan peppercorns, and a few varieties of red chillies. The beef neck retains its tender texture while bean sprouts absorb the richness from the broth.
Mutton, a Northern Chinese classic, is reinvented in a dish of Hulunbuir mutton spare ribs with Dong Lai Shun's homemade Sichuan chilli sauce. The restaurant uses leaner rack of mutton spare ribs sourced from the restaurant’s officially authorised farm in Inner Mongolia, and marinates it with a spice rub made with crumbled dried chillies, leeks, ginger, and garlic. Sze allows the spices to permeate into the rib meat during a two-day rest and roasts the rack of ribs to order. The spare ribs are deep fried until the exterior turns golden brown and crunchy. The dish is perfectly paired with the restaurant’s own homemade Sichuan chilli sauce.
To celebrate the wide range of spicy flavours of the Sichuan cuisine, from numbing sensations brought by crunchy Sichuan peppercorns to fiery red hot chillies, Dong Lai Shun’s Sichuan dishes are irresistible and best shared with friends and family.