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Published April 19th 2014
Delectable diner shoots from the lip
Restaurant serves up spice of life. Image courtesy Sichuan Bang Bang.
Some say the 'bang bang' in Sichuan cuisine translates to 'bon bon' or 'strange flavour'. Others reckon it refers to the 'wood bar' (rolling pin) which is used to tenderise the meat in this traditional dish. Yet another point of view claims 'bang bang' is onomatopoeic - capturing the racket made by a chef pounding chicken breast meat prior to it being shredded.
Not being a speaker of Mandarin, or Cantonese, or any other Chinese dialect, I eventually gave up trying to get to the bottom of the 'bang bang' meaning mystery. But after dining at Kenmore's Sichuan Bang Bang recently, I developed the alternative theory that 'bang bang' actually reflects the attention-getting, heart-stopping, take-no-prisoners nature of this superb regional cuisine.
For those who've grown up thinking Chinese food is a dreary netherworld of prawn crackers, sweet and sour pork and chicken and cashew nuts, you're in for a helluva wake-up call. Sichuan Bang Bang serves the traditional cuisine of the Sichuan Province, or 'heavenly country', located in the south west of China, using cooking methods that can be traced back 2000 years.
Sichuan Bang Bang'smenu describes its flavours as 'bold'. By 'bold', read 'bang bang' - we're talking pungent, piquant, gutsy, spicy and saucy. That's because Sichuan cuisine features the generous use of garlic, ginger, chillies, peppercorns and peanuts. Even the fried rice, one of the most familiar if downtrodden items on Chinese takeaway menus, comes with delicious lashings of sass and heat. It's worth noting, too, that the hot, humid climate from which this style of cooking derives is a perfect fit for tropical Queensland.
We opted for the Peking duck pancakes, served with cucumber, spring onions and hoi sin, which are a palatable $10 on Monday nights (usually $19). Other appetisers on the menu include spicy drunken and fried quail; shredded jelly fish, cucumber salad, chilli oil, sesame oil and soy dressing; and tofu skin seafood spring rolls.
For mains we ordered a satisfyingly complex Mapo Doufu (Sichuan bean curd with minced pork) and a sizzling seafood plate with white fish, squid and king prawns topped with black fungus.
Emboldened, we also ordered the pan-fried shredded crispy Sichuan beef with spiced peanuts. This dish had the maximum three-S 'spice rating' and a pleasantly addictive burn. However, the kitchen can either tone down or dial up the levels of spice and chilli according to your preference. 'If you love the flavours and heat like the Sichuanese do, please request your orders to be crazy hot!' the menu reads.
I didn't leave room for dessert, more's the pity, but will try out the Tang Yuen (sweet sticky rice balls with peanut paste) or flavoured mochi cakes next time. There are also edible beetles sold by the packet for those with more out-there tastebuds than mine.
Sichuan Bang Bang is located amid a strip of Wongabel Street shops in suburban Kenmore where an old Chinese takeaway used to be. The original signage is still displayed, in a nod to the site's heritage, but the interior now brings to mind high class opium den exotica - all dark wood, crimson walls, exquisite vases, vintage lanterns, Oriental rugs and full-bodied modern artworks.
Here is food that's authentic, served in a delicious dining space. Really, what's not to love?
Bang Bang, my baby shot me down. Sichuan Bang Bang image.