Friday, May 11, 2007

Hunan, All Too Hunan

Last August, when the profit burglar and I visited The Dragon Castle we dined Cantonese style, leaving Anhui, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan and Zhejiang on our to-do list of the "Eight Great Traditions" of Chinese cuisine.

This week, we visited Hunan in Pimlico; an establishment - like the Sappho Meze Bar - that does not have a menu. On arrival we were issued with spicy peanuts, pickled cucumber and the wine list, then Mr Peng the proprietor came over for a chat about our likes and dislikes and decided what we were going to have. Nothing as vulgar as money would be mentioned until we got the bill.

I remember that we started with soup from little wooden bamboo barrels but after that details escape me as we were served with dish after dish. It was all delicious. I particularly remember pig's ears and frog's legs but only because they were unexpected ingredients. Mr Peng - definitely the governor - paid close attention to our reactions to each dish, coming over occasionally to demand that we spooned more suace from the serving dish over our plates etc. I can see how that might irritate some, but I was more than happy playing aspirant to his adept. It is a long way from Matthew Polly "eating bitter" in Hunan's Shaolin monastery.

A great meal consisting of about twenty delicate courses and unencumbered by any rice or noodles. Six more Chinese styles to go.

Follow the links for our real and imaginary destinations as we eat our way around the world in London.

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