Yep, it was time for another extreme eating event so the group – a Yelp Extreme Eating Gang After Notorious Offal and Spices (aka YEEGANOS) – headed off to Sichuan Folk for a bite to eat. Our leather-tongued leader had picked this place for the variety of strange and unusual dishes as well as the numbing potency of the peppercorns which Sichuan Folk uses in vast quantities.
We were seated at a table in the back (it helps to make reservations but only necessary if you are bringing a group of 10) and our brave waitress stepped up to the plate to take our order. I’m sure she was expecting for some semblance of order, but we quickly shattered any such hopes but yelling out dishes we wanted like a group of pixie stick snorting pre-schoolers. To her credit, she managed to jot down every dish we called for and even mocked us for not ordering enough. She did ask if we wanted her to run down the list to make sure everything was there but to be honest I don’t think we would have been able to remember what we had just called for.
Anyways, mere minutes later the first round of food started to arrive. Rather than attempt to go through each dish (half of which I couldn’t name even with the menu in front of me), let’s go for the highlights. The “Husband & Wife” offal slices were excellent and were thin slices (almost shavings) of cold cooked offal with a rich meaty flavour and a spicy almost citrus bite from the peppercorns. The dumplings were perfectly steamed and just avoided being stodgy with a crisp texture for the pan frying finish. And finally the cloud ear fungus (a type of mushroom) in a spicy vinaigrette type sauce was wonderfully light with a crunchy texture and brilliant heat.
The mains were a blur of meat, noodles, oily sauce, and of course more peppercorns than you could count. The boiled beef (despite it’s terrible name) was excellent – this slow cooked strips of beef in a thick salty spicy sauce. Yes there was a lot of oil, but that’s how you know it’s gonna be a good dish (just not a healthy one).We also had some preserved eggs which had a brilliant golden colour that contrasted fantastically with the moldy blue yolks. I’m not quite sure how that happens, but the taste was rich and eggy without any hint of rot.
The twice cooked pork served with steamed dough buns was another star provided you don’t mind a bit of DIY when it comes to your food. And there was the Sichuan fish (my personal favourite) which was lightly battered and fried to a tender flaky texture with a moreish taste. I probably ate half that dish by myself (sorry to anyone who didn’t get a bit fast enough!).
All in all, a great meal and quite reasonable at £25pp. I’m excited to know that there is a good option for Chinese in East London rather than trekking all the way to Chinatown or Bayswater. I’ll be back for another round of spicy food once I get feeling back in my tongue!