Szechuan Delicious Restaurant

Restaurant: Szechuan Delicious Restaurant
Cuisine: Szechuan/Beijing/Chinese
Last visited: August 30, 2012
Location: Richmond, BC (Richmond Central)
Address: 6610 No. 3 Road
Transit: Brighouse Station Southbound
Price Range: $10 or less

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4
Service: 3
Ambiance: 2
Overall: 4
Additional comments:

  • Chinese family owned/operated
  • Authentic Szechuan
  • Some Beijing/Canton items
  • Extensive menu
  • Known to Chinese locals
  • Hole in the wall
  • Very casual
  • Budget friendly/Cheap eats
  • Chinese/English menus
  • Chinese written specials
  • Possibly cash only
  • Mon-Sun Lunch 11am-3pm
  • Mon-Sun Dinner 5pm-10pm
  • Open on holidays

**Recommendations: Set dinner for Two which includes: Noodles with Soybean Paste Beijing Style, Boiled Sliced Fish with Chili Oil and Spicy Kung Po Chicken with Peanuts. Spicy Kung Po Chicken with Peanuts is the staple.

What a surprise! A tiny hole in the wall located in a strip mall and I was impressed! I like to do some research before going into a restaurant, but this was a random visit. Being in Richmond, BC I had a craving for Asian food which was very convenient since Richmond is the hub for it. My craving was for Shanghainese cuisine and I wanted to try something new, and I assumed this spot would have been a Shanghainese restaurant.

The assumption was because of its history. Think of this space as the Apollo Theatre in New York City. It’s where Shanghai Wonderful and Shanghai River started and it always tends to be some family owned Shanghainese restaurant. Many of the well liked Shanghainese restaurants in Richmond started here before opening bigger establishments. The last time I came here it was Shanghai Wonderful, so it’s been a long time since my last visit and there has been a few restaurant flips since then. When I arrived I discovered it was Szechuan, but it looked busy and I was curious.

The most challenging part of these restaurants is the ordering process for me. I’m familiar with the culture and food, but I can’t read the menus. It makes things a bit difficult especially if the owners don’t speak English. There is a lot of patience involved on both sides.

They had a handful of photos, but Chinese food doesn’t photograph very nicely…

There were also some specials written in Chinese. I learned later these were Cantonese style dishes which doesn’t surprise me. The restaurant is specialized in Szechuan cuisine, but being in Richmond they need to cater to the market which is predominantly Cantonese-Chinese. Most likely this demographic will want some Cantonese options despite it not being the restaurant’s speciality. Furthermore, the style and flavours of the dishes are likely to cater to Cantonese palates as well. I find this happens to be the natural tendency of any ethnic food though, it has to cater and adapt to the local palates which is understandable.

And there we go! The a la carte menu is in Chinese and English (which this photo is only a small section of), but as usual the descriptions are a bit vague. The prices are very reasonable and the portions are generous, but not huge for Chinese food standards. That’s typical of most Asian cuisine though. It’s meant to be shared and served family style so it’s best to come here with a group of 4. Space is limited.

The restaurant is small and homestyle and an easily perceived local favourite. I was listening to the languages and most people spoke Mandarin instead of Cantonese. Mandarin is the main dialect in China and a lot of the clientele seemed rather new. They were all likely Richmond locals, but something about this place felt very authentic and reminiscent to the small casual everyday eateries in China and Hong Kong. There was nothing fancy about it and it seemed reliable and legit.

It came down to a few photos, vague menu translations and some Chinese only menus, so I decided to just scout out the other tables and order what everyone else was having. I ended up being very impressed with my meal here and I would certainly come back. I was pleasantly surprised.

Szechuan food is known to be numbingly spicy with bold and aromatic flavours. Garlic, chillies, peanuts, and sesame are prevalent and there are seafood and meat options including lamb, beef, chicken and pork. There may be some overlap with Beijing, Cantonese, Taiwanese, or Shanghainese cuisine and the origins of a dish can be very arguable.

One of the most memorable Sichuan dinners I’ve had was at a private Sichuan kitchen in Hong Kong – see my post for Sichuan Da Ping Huo Restaurant. I haven’t explored enough of the Sichuan province in China to say how “authentic” it is, but when it comes down to it my palate was pleased here. Szechuan Delicious Restaurant had my full attention and interest. The food was great and I can’t wait to attack more of the menu.

On the table:

Noodles with Soybean Paste Beijing Style3/6 (Good)

  • $5.95 (or part of dinner for 2 set menu for $29.95 – 3 courses)
  • I ended up choosing something from the Chinese-only menu (it was the first choice on the menu) which happened to be “Dinner for Two” – a set menu.
  • I almost always go for the cold noodle dish with sesame sauce (see here), but this was a nice change. It came complimentary with the set menu.
  • This is a very typical appetizer in Beijing.
  • This was spicy! I expected it to be, but it was numbing spicy.
  • It was still very flavourful and aromatic with the spices used and it made me hungry.
  • It’s naturally a very oily dish and the sauce is almost like an oily broth made with sesame oil, peanut oil, soybean paste, garlic, ginger and chillies.
  • It was sweet and savoury initially and then immediately it went into spicy.
  • It was a tingling spicy and it quickly got spicier with every bite and it numbed my lips a bit.
  • There were flavours of fresh ginger, onion and lots of garlic too so it was very aromatic.
  • The spiciness was an addicting spicy and every bite just made me want another one.

  • The noodles are glass noodles and they were very slippery and thick. They look like rice noodles, but they’re not.
  • In Beijing they were even thicker and sometimes rolled up like a sliced Swiss Cake Roll.
  • I was expecting the chewy clear sheets of mung bean noodles, and although these were mung bean noodles the variety was different.
  • The noodles weren’t chewy or springy and they’re not hard from being chilled either.
  • I prefer the thicker flat mung bean noodles that are a bit chewy compared to these, but these are the authentic noodles the dish is supposed to come with.
  • This is sometimes served with cucumbers and peanuts and I missed those because the cucumber naturalizes the spice and the peanuts add for texture and flavour.
  • There was an intense umami (savoury flavour) to this dish and it could have been the MSG, but I still really liked it.
  • It was less sesame forward and more chili oil in flavour.
  • It was a very flavourful dish and although it was good, I’ve had better versions of it.
  • To see a Shanghainese version of the dish – see Sichuan Glass Noodles with Soy Nut Appetizer.

**Boiled Sliced Fish with Chili Oil – 4.5/6 (Very good-Excellent)

  • $16.95 (or part of dinner for 2 set menu for $29.95 – 3 courses)
  • It came with the set menu and everyone had it on their table.
  • It was one of chef’s signature dishes so I was happy it came in my menu since I didn’t know what I was ordering. It was my first time trying it.
  • I requested medium spicy because Szechuan spicy is known to be numbingly hot.
  • “Fillet of Fish cooked in Chili Oil” is a typical Szechuan or Beijing dish, but usually the broth would be a bright fiery red and loaded with chillies and chili oil. Perhaps it would have been if I ordered it hot.
  • Authentically the chili peppers and peppercorns would be covering the entire top layer so that you couldn’t even see the fish.
  • Being a “medium spicy” this was obviously a tamed down version, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the “hot” version was tamed down too.
  • It was a very hot (in temperature) bowl of sliced fish submerged in a bath of peanut oil which was infused with Sichuan chili peppers and peppercorns. I know. It sounds intense!
  • It was almost like hot pot, but it was served on a plate and the fish was poaching and continually cooking in the oil.
  • The “broth” was all peanut oil which might seem a bit unusual, but it’s not meant to be enjoyed as soup.
  • Peanut oil is a healthy oil with good fats and a high smoking temperature and it’s naturally a sweeter and nutty type of oil, but not exactly sweet.
  • I’m not sure if they cut the peanut oil with another oil, but it seemed like all peanut oil and it didn’t have a cheap greasy feel or taste.
  • It was a yellow colour and a poor quality one would have ruined the dish and this one didn’t taste bad.
  • Naturally the peanut oil will retain a lot of heat so the fish will continue to cook so it’s not being deep fried since the oil isn’t hot enough.
  • Restaurants that use peanut oil in China are considered “upscale” because it’s an expensive oil.
  • Peanut allergies are very rare in China unlike North America.
  • Chinese cooking does not use much dairy though so lactose intolerant allergies come in greater numbers.
  • If you’re allergic to peanuts I would probably not come here because it’s likely that a lot of dishes are cooked in peanut oil.

  • The boneless and skinless fish was tender, thin, delicate and flaky basa (?) fillets. It’s a white fish with a very mild flavour.
  • It did not overcook and was very slippery especially being bathed in oil.
  • It surprisingly wasn’t greasy like how vegetable or canola oil would feel and taste.
  • It had a very silky soft texture and the fish itself was savoury and perhaps seasoned with MSG. It had that addicting umami characteristic.

The bottom is a very generous bed of bean sprouts.

The dinner for two set menu comes with two bowls of complimentary rice. It is meant to be eaten with a drizzle of oil from the fish dish or the next course – Spicy Kung Po Chicken with Peanuts.

**Spicy Kung Po Chicken with Peanuts – 5/6 (Excellent)

  • $10.95 a la carte (or part of dinner for 2 set menu for $29.95 – 3 courses)
  • This can be requested as spicy as you wish. I requested medium which was perfect for me.
  • Sichuan SPICY can be HOT and much spicier than what the average North American palate can handle. It’s like ordering “Thai food hot” or “Indian food hot” – I’d be careful.
  • This is the official dish of the 2008 Summer Olympics in China.
  • This is a staple dish at Szechuan restaurants. Every table had one and not because it was on special!
  • Kung Po or Kung Pao chicken is a classic Sichuan dish that has been made popular in North America.
  • It’s basically a sweet and spicy chicken stir fry made with soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, Sichuan dried red chillies, Sichuan peppercorns, dry roasted peanuts, ginger, garlic and scallions.
  • It’s boneless and skinless diced dark meat chicken which was tender, well marinated in soy sauce and naturally moist being dark meat.
  • The size of the peanuts and chicken were almost the same and it was pretty much equal amounts of both.
  • The crunch of peanuts and contrasting bite of slippery smooth succulent morsels of chicken was great and the dish was full of flavour.
  • I was hoping for more “wok aroma” and a bit of smokiness in the chicken and overall dish, but at least there was no burnt flavour.
  • The key to the dish is the oil, chilies and peanuts.
  • The dish is prepared in a wok and the ginger, garlic, chillies and peppercorns (aromatics) are flash fried in the hot oil (likely peanut oil).
  • The oil is infused and intense with aromas of blistered chilies and fried peppercorns.
  • The sauce also has some soy sauce, sesame oil, perhaps hoisin and some sugar for sweetness and cornstarch to thicken.
  • The sauce becomes sweet, sour, salty, spicy, savoury, garlicky and fragrant and this one was not too oily or greasy either.
  • The spiciness was gradual, but it was a flavourful spicy and not just hot.
  • It almost had a sweet and tangy Ketchup like undertone to it and it was well balanced in flavour.
  • There is a peanut version and a cashew version and the cashew is known to be the “fancier” one. The peanut is more traditional and common.
  • The versions with celery, carrots, broccoli, corn, chestnuts, cabbage, bell peppers and other vegetables are Western interpretations of the dish. It can still be good, but just not “authentic”.
  • This dish is also available with other meats, shrimp and tofu and I would highly recommend it if you’re not allergic to peanuts.
  • I also recommend the one at Kalvin’s – see Prawn & Peanut with Chili Pepper That one was much much spicier, but again the level of spiciness is upon request.

Shredded Pork Beijing Style (Pancake)3.5/6 (Good-Very good)

  • $10.95 (With 6 pancakes)
  • I was expecting something different and based on the desciption I thought it was going to be a “pork pancake roll” which is common at Shanghai and Taiwanese restaurants.
  • It said “Beijing” style but I got lost in translation and they meant ‘crepe’ instead of “pancake”.
  • If you like Peking Duck with Crepes then chances are you will like this. I prefer Peking duck with the crispy skin, but it’s apples and oranges.
  • You can think of this as a version of Mu Shu (Moo Shu) Pork, but with way less ingredients.
  • It was a pork stir fry and I think the sauce was soy sauce and Hoisin sauce with sesame oil.
  • It was sweet and savoury and a bit on the oily side.
  • It wasn’t tangy or spicy and it was more savoury and salty than the Kung Pao Chicken.
  • The quality of the pork is usually very fatty (that’s the style), but this one was rather lean and I actually prefer it this way.
  • The cheaper quality fatty pork they usually use is too chewy for me and this was not overcooked. It was saucy and still moist.
  • Underneath the pork was a bed of shaved raw green onions so it was a bit spicy from those. It gave crunchy texture and contrasted the heavier pork flavours.

  • The crepes were quite thin, but a bit oily. They are doughy moist crepes and not like dry tortillas or eggy French ones.
  • These crepes are typically not made with egg when being served with this dish.
  • However there are other street food versions of Beijing crepes that use an egg (called Jianbing).
  • I actually ended up wrapping the pork filling and the Kung Pao Chicken in these crepes and liked it even more. It’s not the traditional way to eat it, but it was good.
  • There were a lot of flavours going on with the mixture of meats, but the sauces were soy based and the chicken added spiciness and the peanuts gave even more texture and flavour.
  • Although I enjoyed this, I wouldn’t need to order it again.

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