Deng G Bistro & Baijiu Bar is helmed by one of China's most celebrated Sichuan chefs, Deng Huadong, who has worked in renowned kitchens across the country and now brings his celebrated brand from Shanghai, Deng G, to our fire-loving bellies here in Hong Kong.
In an ode to the beloved pandas of Chengdu, the large restaurant is opulently kitted out with bamboo decor throughout the dining area, complete with two spacious round-table private dining rooms. The first floor is the Baijiu Bar. This is a cool place to get a baijiu (a classic Chinese spirit derived from grain) cocktail and a bar bite of pickled carrot and cucumber, a refreshing way to sate the hunger before you heat up your palate upstairs.
And when you do head upstairs, you are in for a treat of tempting dishes served sharing style. Our starter of sliced pork with garlic and chilli was a beautiful first bite, along with the familiar shredded chicken with sesame dressing, a simple okra with ginger dish, generously flavoured Yuxiang prawns and roasted aubergine doused with a kind of red chilli salsa that was quite mild but still incredibly moreish. We particularly enjoyed the sheets of dried bean curd topped with pickled peppers that seeped into the tofu skin with a tangy punch.
Chef Deng is well known for using fresh ingredients with lighter cooking techniques, using less oil overall in his dishes, leading to cleaner flavours. His signature dish of crispy fish was fleshy, perfectly grilled and beautifully presented with its richly hued sauce. The camphor-smoked duck did not disappoint. It was impossible not to devour the entire bowl of hot and sour seafood soup despite gazing up at the rapidly filling table of food to come. The dry braised fish maw wasn't terrifically flavourful but had a gorgeous glutinous texture. The diced chicken with chilli and cashew was expectedly tasty, and the dry sautéed shredded beef and stir-fried squid were both a chewy delight. The braised pak choi and dried scallop added a welcome green element to the meal, but we hadn't had any of those telltale blow-your-head-off chilli bites that we had anticipated (and marginally feared) all evening. Then came the mapo tofu, and our expectations were high. A tiny taste on the spoon and a subtly climbing heat, another careful spoonful, another hit of pleasant flavour, increasingly large and frequent spoonfuls followed and a gentle buzzing on the lips and tongue built up. And that was it. It was possibly the most well, and the least red faced, I have ever felt whilst eating Sichuan cuisine. The expectation is always to have your taste buds blown off by dishes from this region, and that never occurred during this meal. By the last course, the tingle on the lips from the gradually building spice of the dishes was the only sign that Sichuan food had been ingested, never resulting in an unpleasant tickle in the throat or cough from the heat.
So for all those who enjoy the flavours of Sichuan, but not so much the smoking tongue and crying eyes that follow, this is the restaurant for you. They likely chose dishes for us to sample that are specifically geared to a wider audience, but you can order dishes by flavour profile and ensure more mala (spicy and numbing) flavours on the table if you seek more heat.
Hot and sour soup
Pak choi with dried scallop
Diced chicken with chilli and cashew
Crispy fish in mala sauce
2/F, 147 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, 2609 2328