My sister is done her exams, and our friend Haley is home for the holidays, so I FINALLY had people to go adventuring with on a weekday! Or, as we like to call it, “ah-venturing.”
We started the day at the Tim Hortons across from Aberdeen skytrain station, because, well, the weather at noon yesterday was suggestive of the apocalypse actually beginning. Well, sleet doesn’t necessarily = the end of the world, but it was pretty nasty. Therefore, we hid in Timmy’s with coffee, tea, and apple fritters until the weather smartened up.
When we were feeling adventurous enough, we walked across the street and into New Spicy Chili Restaurant. It took us approximately 3.5 minutes.
They highlight their specialty dishes with crowns, and indicate the level of heat with one, two, or three chili peppers.
It was tough to choose, but eventually we decided on the spicy double-cooked pork with bean spicy sauce ($15.99), dry and spicy bitter melon ($12.99), tan tan noodles ($6.99), deep-fried bread ($4.99), and rice. The food came out quickly, but they held off on the bread for a while since it’s like dessert.
The spicy double cooked pork was a huge hit. Over the last six months, I’ve come to realize just how extraordinarily good fermented black beans are, and there were many in this dish.
To put it pretentiously, they have such an incredible depth of flavour. Or should I say, depth of flaaay-vuuuh. They’re salty, complex in their savouriness, and add so much to a dish. Along with the rich pork belly, there were thin slices of tofu, which lightened everything up. There were also sliced peppers, onions, green onion, chili, and plenty of peppercorns.
The dry and spicy bitter melon was certainly the most interesting and attractive dish on the table. A single slice of this scalloped green vegetable – without even chilis attached to it – was one of the spiciest things I’ve ever consumed. Call me weak. I am weak.
Upon biting into it, my reaction was similar to the first time I tried durian (in a single word, embarrassing). And it had just a one pepper heat rating! It was so fiercely spicy I ate half a bowl of rice in an attempt to make the pain subside. And I haven’t even gotten to the best part – it was also bitter! As in, BITTERRRRR.
The moral of this story is that for someone with a high tolerance for spice and a preference for food on the bitter side, this is your dream dish! It certainly wasn’t mine, but we still had fun with it, as you can see.
The bowl of tan tan noodles were excellent (less spicy than at Golden Szechuan, but saucier),
After lunch, we wanted more dessert, so we went to Snowbear Bakery, just opposite New Spicy Chili. They specialize in animal-shaped cakes, and have all the other Chinese bakery classics.
The cakes were really adorable, except for the bear with an axe in his face. Anyone know the reason for that? Is there a back-story we’re missing? He’s even crying.
We were a little too full to eat an axed bear cake, but Haley said “I want to try one of those buns with coconut you’re always talking about on the blog.” She is correct, I do always talk about coconut (or cocktail) buns, and that’s because they are delicious. We got one cocktail bun and one milky coconut bun, which I think had condensed milk drizzled amongst its layers.
The filling in the bun was great (quite salty), but the bread itself wasn’t the best I’ve had. Still, it made for a solid introduction to the cocktail bun world.
Thanks to Kate and Haley for ah-venturing with me yesterday. We each sacrificed a few taste buds to that spicy food, but I like to think our tolerances have increased. If not for Szechuan cuisine, then at least for deep-fried bread.
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Vegetarian options available