Those ones are feisty, they are!

So I know I kind of bigged up all the exciting things that I was going to cook and describe in this post at the end of my last post…but then the oven/stove broke. Soo that won’t be happening, unfortunately. I’ll keep it on the (metaphorical) backburner for now, and return to it either when college gets a new stove (unlikely) or I get back home next month (probable).

However, for your viewing pleasure this evening, I have some great shots of one of my favorite restaurants in Oxford, My Sichuan. It’s located right beside the bus bays in Gloucester Green, and so is a little out of the way. They serve Sichuan cuisine (shocking), and my friends at Wikipedia tell me that Sichuan cuisine is considered one of the four great traditions in Chinese cuisine. A lot of their food is very spicy, especially all the dishes in the “lip tingling spicy sauce”, one of my favorites. I’ve been several times after being introduced by a good friend of mine, and have taken many of my friends, all of whom have really enjoyed it. Let me show you what I mean:

Generally when I eat there, I start off with these: Thousand Year Old Eggs, also known as Preserved Eggs. I know they look a bit frightening, but they are delicious, and I’m pretty sure they’re not 1000 years old. They are served with a soy sauce/vinegar dressing and lots of green chilis. I want these right now.

Thousand-year-old eggs

Thousand Year Old Eggs. They’re looking pretty good for 1000 years…

When I went a few months ago, my friend and I decided to try the homemade Spicy Jelly Tofu. If I were being honest, I didn’t like this at all – the texture was just really not for me. It wasn’t like the tofu you get in the supermarket, where it’s kind of springy; this didn’t really offer any resistance when you bit into it. It was a cold appetizer, which I found a bit surprising (clearly I did not read that part of the menu), but it was refreshing…just not for me.

Spicy jelly tofu

Spicy Jelly Tofu

Almost every time I go, I get some variation of the aforementioned “lip tingling spicy sauce” dish. Generally I like to get the pork, but this time we got pig trotters, because I hadn’t tried them before! Gaze upon their beauty:

Lip tingling pork trotters

Lip tingling pork trotters

And then gaze upon all the chilis that were left after we ate all the trotters:

That's gotta hurt...

That’s gotta hurt…

That’s right. This is an intense dish, and definitely not for anyone who can’t handle their spice. The ‘lip tingling’ is caused by the use of the Sichuan peppercorns, which leave your tongue a little bit numb, in a spicy way. It’s really a unique sensation. If you like spicy food, I would highly recommend you give it a go: they also have chicken, beef and fish in a similar sauce.

I’ve also tried some of their more common dishes, such as stirfried noodles, bokchoy, and rice. All were delicious. In particular I really enjoyed their frogs legs! Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of them but they were done in the style of salt and pepper seafood, aka fried with chilis and onions. Very flavorful. If you, like my friend A, are a bit (or a lot) hesitant to try frogs legs, I will tell you that they taste kind of like a mix between fish and chicken, with more of a texture like fish. They’re quite light and very tasty. Frog legs make me happy :). I have also tried the duck tongues (another first for me); they were good but they were so small and so hard to get the meat off! You would have to eat the whole plate to be even a little bit full. I enjoyed eating them but don’t think I would order them again; I get hungry!

The most recent time I visited (this past Saturday) I finally, FINALLY cajoled my friend to join me for hot pot. It was great! We were given an assortment of meat, seafood and vegetables, all in great quantities (the hotpot is expensive, about  £20 per person).

Pre hot pot

Pre hot pot

For those like me who are new to hotpot, you choose your broth and in our case basically get given trays of raw meat, seafood and vegetables, which you then plop into the broth of your choice and it cooks at your table. You are able to customize it to your own taste with various condiments that are provided. I really enjoyed it; we got both the spicy and the not spicy broth, and quickly discovered that the spicy one was overloaded with Sichuan peppercorns! But all of the seafood especially tasted much better after being cooked in the spicy broth.I don’t think this is something that I would do often, because sometimes when I go out to eat I don’t necessarily want to cook my own dinner (go figure), as well as the price, but mostly I just got too full! Kind of like Korean barbeque in that respect.

Mid hot pot!

Mid hot pot!

Overall, my verdict of My Sichuan is this: I like it. In fact, I really like it. I think the food is tasty, and although the service may not be the most friendly I’ve ever experienced, they are quite quick to bring you your food, and they also do takeaway. I will say that I think it is a bit pricey, especially on a student budget, but I find that if I order a lip tingling pork and some rice just for myself as a takeaway, I can get at least 3 meals out of that, so I guess it depends on how far you stretch it and how much you eat! When I go, there is generally a large Chinese contingent, which speaks to its quality and authenticity; this may only be comparatively to Oxford’s other restaurants (not necessarily of the highest caliber) but I do think My Sichuan stands out. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you go: try something you’ve never tried before, get a feel for a new cuisine, and enjoy!

As mentioned, the oven and stove are down for the count. However, I will be creative and endeavor to bring you something new and exciting new week! Until then, stay delicious folks ;)

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