Chinese (Sichuan) Restaurant in Shanghai, China: Ba Guo Bu Yi Cuisine Restaurant Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Ba Guo Bu Yi Cuisine Restaurant Heart
Restaurants and bars
Open: Lunch and dinner daily
Price: Moderate

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +86 21 6270 6668
Address: 1676 Hongqiao Lu (also 1018 Dingxi Lu in Changning)
Country: China
Food Style: Chinese (Sichuan)

Ba Guo Bu Yi Cuisine Restaurant is an outstanding Sichuan restaurant in the pleasant Hongqiao area of Shanghai.
We were lucky enough to be introduced to Shanghai resident Joey, a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic food lover, who was anxious for us to experience a range of cuisines and the best examples of dishes from those cuisines. It was Joey who chose this restaurant as an exemplar of Sichuan cuisine.
The management maintain three restaurants but we were assured that this one has the best atmosphere. The evening begins with a short display of traditional Sichuan theatre involving an extremely talented performer magically changing a sequence of masks and clothes. The entire restaurant stops for the performance and everyone, even hard-bitten Western restaurant reviewers, become entranced by the display of skill.
While we were watching the performance, Joey was ordering the dishes that we were to sample. Soon they began to arrive. Dish after dazzling dish delighted and challenged our tastebuds.
The first (and by looking at other tables a very popular choice) was 'pork on a clothesline'. Thin strips of cooked white pork were arranged on a bamboo contraption resembling a clothesline. Each slice of pork was twinned with a fine slice of cucumber. The idea is to take a slice of pork and cucumber, dip it into the fiery chilli and garlic sauce then place some shredded lettuce on the slice of pork, fold it up and enjoy. This was a pleasant dish with a nice range of flavours and texture contrasts.
Then came a simple but delicious dish of fresh robust, bamboo shoot with a fresh chilli sauce. The batons of bamboo were delightfully crunchy and the chilli added another dimension to the dish.
And now things started to get really interesting!
The next dishes were pork stomach served with buckwheat noodles and 'mixed beef bullhead skin in chilli sauce' (fu qi fe pian). This was slices of meat from the head as well as slices of skin that had been stewed and then served in a chilli sauce.
This was followed by pork intestines served with dried chillies and fresh Sichuan peppercorns. The fresh peppercorns are fascinating. They are not supposed to be eaten - they are there to give flavour to the dish. However if you do crunch one up in your mouth it become instantly numb!
Next was pigs blood with mushroom in a soupy sauce. When we also delved into the depths of this dish we also found something with a meat texture that we didn't recognise. It turned out to be spam!! Evidently it was introduced to the region decades ago and they have melded it into their cuisine. We also tried a lovely dish of chicken stomachs with pickled chillies.
If you think that the meal up to this stage was dominated by chillies then you would be right. However, we were to discover that the chillies are there to add flavour they are not all eaten by the Sichuan people. They pick out the meat and vegetables and leave the chillies on the plate.
Slices of inland fish in a large soup bowl were supplemented with bean sprouts in a very flavourful dish.
A cooling dish of chicken soup with ginkgo nuts helped sooth our palates. This was followed by two small dishes of noodles - one of dan dan noodles and one of glass noodles with walnuts and sesame (a traditional Chongqing dish). A dish of braised mushroom with pieces of flavourful pork accompanied.
The final dish was a sweet dish confirming our view that great Chinese desserts are great desserts. The zi ma tang yuan were small dumplings stuffed with black sesame and sticky rice. They were fragile, meltingly tender, sweet and unctuous. A stunning dessert to end a memorable meal!
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