It is not a secret among our friends that we really like eating at the Si Chuan Dou Hua Restaurant at the Parkroyal Hotel on Kitchener Road. Si Chuan Dou Hua specialises in Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine, and do both extremely well. Their Sichuan dishes are not toned down to suit local palates, but not too fiery either that one cannot taste the distinct balance of flavours that this regional cuisine is known for. Tea is taken seriously too, only whole-leaf teas are served; there is even a tea room for further appreciation. That it is a 5 minute drive from our home only makes us more inclined to eat there often, by ourselves, with family, and especially for social gatherings, because many of their dishes are ideal for sharing.
The past few months though, it had been difficult to get lunch reservations. The restaurant had a promotion of retro dim sum, made in the style that would be more familiar with the older generation. It was so popular that after the promotion ended, these dim-sum items remain in their menu. Some items may not be popular with the younger generation, for example, their har-kows made of a minced pork, prawn and chive mixture did not go down well with my daughter who prefers the contemporary version with pure prawn filling. Steamed pork with preserved vegetables (mui choy) sounded better than it tasted. Some items were excellent though, like an ultra-crispy roll of fried beancurd skin stuffed with seafood.
The standout dish for me though, was a steamed bun rolled around filling of taro kau yuk. The last time I ate kau yuk was, gosh, maybe 7 or 8 years ago, it is quite an old-fashioned dish that one may find in some Hakka restaurants in Malaysia (in London, the Mayflower restaurant has a very good version, as students we always ordered it). To make taro kau yuk, pork belly is layered with thick slices of taro and first steamed, then braised slowly in a nam yee (red fermented beancurd) based sauce. The taro cooks down into fluffy pieces that absorbs all the rich meaty flavours given more depth from the fermented bean curd, resulting in a very addictive dish especially when accompanied with steamed rice. In this case, soft white buns made a good stand-in for rice.
Every bite came with an ideal ratio of meat, fat and taro, all smothered in the gorgeous salty-sweet-savoury sauce. The cardiologist might not approve, so wash it down with a good pot of tea. The buns are quite dainty though, so you might want to order a whole plate for yourself.