Ba Shan

It’s pronounced Ba-Shaan.  It’s from the Hunan region of China, coming under the broad umbrella of Sichuan cuisine. That further translate to some fantastic spicy cooking! I’d initially wanted to go to Barshu, but The Skinny Bib recommended we go to this instead. As long as it was fiery, I was game!  For the history buff , Hunan is the province where Chairman Mao grew up – that explained the numerous pictures of Mao  across the restaurant, adding that bit of historical intrigue for the uninformed. 

Whilst perusing the drinks menu, I came across a few traditional drinks – one of them, made with Red Beans. Not wanting to miss out on sampling something new (for me), something old (tradition) I requested one and was soon presented with what only looked like red beans and ice. A wee sip later and I just wished there wasn’t so much ice! It was heavenly – mix of red beans, soya and cows milk, a dash of sugar. If you’ve tried Japanese red bean cakes, you only know the wonderful qualities of red beans in sweet preparations. This was a sure sign of things to come.

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We  ordered Kung Bo Chicken, Duck Tongues, Aubergine & Sesame, Morning Glory. The chicken also had peanuts, honey, sesame, chilli and Sichuan pepper. The Sichuan pepper has a very strong and distinct flavour – for me it reminds me of fresh green cardamom – not the dried variety, but when its on the plant and the dish itself was…well, it got polished off!

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One never gets to eat something like duck tongues – so to see it on the menu in a spicy variant was a no-brainer. Apart from chomping restlessly on the little treats, our only thoughts were off the numerous ducks that gave their life in providing us with this delicacy. I wish I could tell you how many there were – far too to many, way, way too many for us to finish, but little treats that we kept popping into our mouths one after the other. .

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It’s no secret that I’m a fan of aubergine and if I see an aubergine dish on a menu, chances are, I will order it. Todays specimen came in a large pestle and mortar – a sort of aubergine puree mixed with tahini, served cold. The umpteen ideas and inspirations this dish has given me now is proof to how much I enjoyed it. One can never go wrong with a vegetable like morning glory (water spinach), served with garlic. It’s one of those things that no matter where you go, the person cooking it will cook it to perfection and that’s just what we had.

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Bashan, Bashan. It’s a wonder why there isn’t a queue outside the doors to get in. I’m afraid that far too many people fall for the generic and stereotypical Chinese, or don’t really know the little wonders out there! I also found out that Barshu and Bashan is run by the same people – joy of joys, happiness personified – they’re both next to each other….if you could see me laugh and do a little dance about how happy this makes me, you’d know this is the place for Sichuan cuisine!

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Overall experience: 7
Food: 7
Recommend you go: 7
Ba Shan on Urbanspoon
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