A gentle introduction to fiery Sichuan food

For those unused to Sichuan food, its fire and oil can come as a shock after the more subtle flavours of Cantonese cuisine.

Dried red chillies and Sichuan pepper add ferocious heat. There’s a hefty whack of garlic. And no small amount of cooking oil acting as a sauce infused with these and other flavours.
But a gentle introduction is the monkfish in Sichuan sauce at Chung Ying Central in the centre of Birmingham, for it’s a retrained rendition of this style of food.

It’s one of the lunchtime dishes at the buzzing, contemporary restaurant bar.
The lunch deal is £7.95 for a main course, £9.95 for a main and side or dessert and £11.95 for all three.
There are a variety of rice and noodle options featuring chicken, beef, lamb, duck, seafood and vegetables.
There are various sauces on offer.
The monkfish combo was a hit – soft and flavoursome chunks of fish in a sauce that had plenty of oomph, but was balanced enough to retain subtle notes.
The sliced peppers and onions scattered through the thin noodles were properly al dente.
It was a huge serving too – far too large for a dainty bloke like me to finish.

Especially since I’d ordered chicken karaage flavoured with honey and garlic as a side from the seasonal specials menu, where three dishes can be had for £15.
The chicken was beautifully crisp on the outside and the flavourings spot-on.
The lunchtime menu is available from 11.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday and from 12pm until 3pm on Saturdays.
The seasonal specials menu is available from 4pm until 7pm Monday to Saturday.
Check them out – they’re great value menus offering filling and flavoursome food.

Chung Ying Central
126 Colmore Row, Birmingham B3 3AP. 0121 400 0888.

I work as a freelance consultant with the Chung Ying group.