Their ethos of separating the ‘ma’ from the ‘la’ and ‘tang’ in each dish is incredibly helpful to decide on what to order whenever you visit. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, their menu explains that it’s always wise to start with the non-spicy ‘tang’ dishes to whet your palette before you move onto the numbing ‘ma’ and fiery ‘la’ dishes. This sort of progressive meal helps you understand the depth of flavours in each dish and not to be intimidated or overwhelmed by the strong Szechuan spices.
We were delighted to hear when they opened their new branch on Old Bailey Street a few weeks ago and briskly booked a table for Foodie Club for a specially tailored meal. Working with wine distributors Cuvées, the Chilli Fagara team designed a fully guided tasting menu highlighting Fagara’s signature dishes.
Our wine expert of the night, Adam from Cuvées, soon made it clear that certain wines do indeed enhance spicy flavours. Wine is not an obvious choice to pair with Szechuan food but his selection of sweeter, French varieties not only balanced the spiciness but added an extra depth too. The chilli dumplings served in that familiar numbing spicy sauce for example, was paired with a Moscato that brought out the deep cinnamon flavours you wouldn’t normally detect without the wine.
We tasted our way from cold appetisers such as jellyfish and cucumber to chicken covered in spicy sauce and then ended with some fiery deep fried softshell crab underneath a mountain of chillies. As we were ready to burst, out came the gochi jelly dessert served with calming rose tea to bring a lighter end to the meal.
The new Chilli Fagara location certainly shows that they are offering a unique experience to diners. Whether you are a spice expert or a Szechuan novice, the staff will be there to guide you on a journey of flavours.
NEW LOCATION: Chilli Fagara, G/F, 7 Old Bailey Street, Central, 2796 6866 / 2796 6766
ORIGINAL LOCATION: Chilli Fagara, 51A Graham Street, Central, 2893 3330