Spice pot hits all the right spots

(China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-17 10:20
Large Medium Small

Spice pot hits all the right spots

Good spicy food can be addictive. That's why I find myself looking forward to a visit to Fei Teng Yu Xiang, known for offering "new style" Sichuan cuisine. With the name literally meaning "seething fish village", the restaurant contributed to the fame of shui zhu yu, a very tender, spicy pot of fish slices, in Beijing.

It's been 10 years since the restaurant served its first pot of spicy boiled fish. The original version involves pouring hot oil on a fresh fish in the preparation. Although that makes the fish super tender, some argue that it is too oily. Therefore the restaurant has tried to explore new ways of cooking the dish, either with white broth, or with a cushion of vegetables beneath the fish. However, according to Guan Xin, the restaurant's PR manager, after several years of variations, they found customers still liked the original fish the most.

Other signature dishes also provide a gratifyingly hot stimulation to the tongue, such as the spicy snail, auspiciously named "fortune and longevity snail". It is an interesting process to pick out the flesh with a toothpick, which is soaked in a tasty seasoning. The restaurant provides a plastic disposable glove to avoid smearing the hands.

The bullfrog in spicy soup is fairly tender, while the chicken in spicy soup provides a pleasant alternative for those averse to frog.

For cold starters, try the restaurant's slippery sea intestines with fresh chili, and beef in spicy soup. Two good options that are not spicy are spinach with peanuts, and dry bean curd rings. The restaurant has its own version of "spicy fragrant pot", with a mixture of vegetables, black fungus, ham and mushrooms. Apparently the restaurant tries to make it not as salty as elsewhere, but unfortunately this also means it is not as tasty.

The deep-fried crab with garlic was also a failure. There was not much flesh and it was fried too dry. So was the fried black bean wrapped in starch with diced ham. It tasted very crisp, as it is intended to be. But it was somewhat tasteless.

The average cost is 80 yuan ($12) per person.