Updated 23-May-2009: this restaurant is now closed.
We went out again for a weekend dine out with ET and Christina from doesnttaztelikechicken.com. It was our turn to chose a location. We opted for one of the recommendations from a chowtimes reader.
Marc recommended Szechuan Harvest Moon Cuisine located on No 3 Rd at the strip mall where Hon’s is. Actually Harvest Moon is located in one of our favourite restaurants called Evergreen Garden which had recently closed down. What a waste … Evergreen had great dinner combo specials.
From the outside, the decorations looked really garish. With the red lantern and red faux banners in the door, it looked really like a Chinese wedding ceremony is happening here. Frankly, if I were them, I would re-design the entire entrance. If not for the recommendation from Marc, we would have missed giving them a try.
The inside of the restaurant is something else though. The place was clean and neat with real tablecloth. What we noticed mostly was the red seat covers which we felt lent an air of sophistication to the place. Real nice.
According to Marc, the Szechuan Harvest Moon Cuisine is an off-shoot from the Golden Szechuan Restaurant. It is opened by Danny, who used to be the restaurant manager of Golden Szechuan. It was strange, we felt, when Marc mentioned Danny’s name like he knows him. Well, we soon found out why … apparently, Danny knows everyone! When we got there, Danny greeted us like he had known us for years!
Anyway, Danny told us that although he is from Hongkong, he insisted that the chef is from Szechuan. We asked him about Szechuan cuisine and he seems to have an answer to everything.
We were there early and so while waiting for ET and Christina, Danny suggested that we get a bowl of Dan Dan Noodle to share first. We fondly remembered our $1.99 Dan Dan Noodle and thought why not try it here and compare. This one is $5.99 though but at least they have ground pork unlike the $1.99 version we had which is just noodles. Also, this one tastes different in that it is spicy and lightly sour and does not have sesame oil. According to Danny, this is authentic Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles.
A little trivia for non-Chinese. In some higher-end Chinese restaurants, they provide “communal chopsticks”. They are generally darker in color from the rest of the chopsticks. This is what you use to pick the food from the dishes to your bowl. Since we were dining with ET and Christina, we play along and use the communal chopstick … otherwise, when my family were dining on our own, we all just dig in.
Also, better Chinese establishments will provide you two pots … one for the tea and another for hot water to fill the tea pot when it is running low.
Danny came by and gave us a complimentary sample of what he calls the Salty Vegetable. It was good for vetting our appetite but it was so little.
Danny talked us into getting their crab. It was the name — Cold Pot Crab — we would not have gotten it. And no … the above is NOT the way it was served. They came by the table to show us it is a live crab they are serving us, all 2.8 lb of it.
Here it is … the Cold Pot Crab. It wasn’t served on a pot but on a metal plate … at least it was cold. I did not quite understand what the big deal it was being served on a cold “pot”.
And let me tell you this is lip-searing, tongue-numbing hot! There are lots of chili and peppercorn and such. It was too much of a good thing to go to waste and so we asked that the remnants of this dish be packed for home.
I dig this kind of things. I thought it was kind of normal but Christina seems to allude that normal people will not mix the “remnants” of the crab dish into the bowl of rice. I don’t care … I like it that way.
The only downside to it is the visits to the loo the day (or days!) after.
The crab is quite fleshy too. Suanne had the most crab. I did not realize it until later when I saw a heap of crab shells on her side plate. No wonder she did not say much during the dinner … she was too busy picking the flesh from the legs the whole night.
ET said that the prize part of the crab is the roe. We … ET and I … the men of the household … errr … got the best part. He had half of it and I had the other half. He swears it was great … I thought it was just OK. I just don’t have his discerning tastes.
Next came the “Saliva Chicken”. Hau Sui Gai is what they call it in Cantonese.
I was curious. So, I asked the every so talkative Danny the origin of the name of this dish. According to Danny, this is because this dish is so spicy that they eat until they drool. I think he made the story up.
Not spicy? Actually they have a separate chili sauce on the side which we drizzle over the chicken right before we eat. Per Christina, most times the chicken is pre-drenched in the chili sauce … now, that would surely be more like “saliva chicken”.
The Mah Po Tofu was good but is a bit of a common Szechuan dish. I love the numbing spiciness with lots of ground Szechuan peppercorn sprinkled on top.
You want to learn more about this dish and the recipe for this, Suanne had blogged about it here before.
The Sauteed House Deluxe Mixed Vegetables was pretty good but it was kind of overwhelmed by the crab and the chicken. Too much of a good thing makes this so ho-hum but it was really good.
Danny said this was a Szechuan dish but I don’t see any element of Szechuan’ness in this at all. i.e. no peppercorn … no chili … to bland.
The Double Cooked Fish Fillet costs $19.95. It was really fresh and had great taste to it. You know why this is called double cooked? By itself, this is a good dish … but … it was also overwhelmed by the crab and the chicken.
Oh … it was quite expensive as you can see. But then, it was worth it as we enjoyed it a lot.
The service was great. Danny kept us informed and amused. They also came by and change our plates which we appreciate a lot especially when eating something as messy as crabs.
One thing we did discuss during the meal. ET/Christina and us thought it might be a good thing to organize a Chinese banquet for food bloggers and also readers of food blogs. ET/Christina is willing to organize one and I am sure there will be people who will be willing to attend. Sometime ago. I organized twice … once we had one table and another time we filled three tables.
ET/Christina will let us know the plan … but we need you to let us know if anyone of you are interested to attend.