Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Chengdu Szechuan Bistro for a tasting of their signature dishes.
They are located right next to one of my favourite ramen joints, Kintaro, which I was surprised to find out because I never really took notice of Chengdu before despite being in the are a good couple of times.
Chengdu Szechuan Bistro caters to the downtown demographic and serves a variety of Chinese and Western fusion dishes.
Recently, they have been heavily advertising their Peking Duck which is a dish loved by many. It usually consists of two parts, and I will go into more detail a little later.
The bartender Jan creates all of the cocktails and martinis on the menu and it constantly changes depending on the season.
I tried the Mint Cucumber Martini which was the coolest, most refreshing drink to have... on a hot summer day. Too bad Vancouver doesn't get a lot of days like that to enjoy these types of drinks. Nonetheless, this was absolutely delicious, and I'd drink this during summer or winter time.
On the other hand, not too many of my friends took a liking to the Asian Ginger Martini, mostly because the ginger was a bit too strong. But I can see how other people who love ginger would like this drink.
On to the Peking Duck. Peking duck's first course comes with duck skin that has been crisped up, and its usually served with green onions, cucumber, hoisin sauce, and a really flat crepe. You roll it up like a burrito and eat it together.
They make all their crepes fresh and in house which I really appreciate. Nobody likes crepes from a package.
All of my friends thought the duck was very well done. It was crispy, had a good amount of meat on them, and it wasn't too fatty (which can easily be the case if cooked differently). The owner told me they roast the ducks in house as well. Big thumbs up.
Here is my assembled duck wrap. The crispy skin with the cooling cucumber and green onion, along with the flavourful (homemade) hoisin sauce, makes for heaven in your mouth. If you've never tried Peking Duck before, I URGE you to give it a try at least once in your life.
The second course that usually follows is the Lettuce Wrap. The chef takes all the meat that was left over (since they only took the skin) and stir-fries it with a bunch of other ingredients. Then you wrap this particular filling in lettuce and eat it. The duck meat was very moist here and was indeed very fresh.
We wanted to sample both prawns and squid so we ended up getting 50/50 and they were fried with spicy salt and pepper seasoning. The prawns were huge and perfectly fried.
One of my favourite dishes was the Seafood and Vegetable in Bird's Nest. The birds nest is made of potato sticks and is entirely edible! How cool is that?! I haven't had this since I was a child in Hong Kong so this dish really brought me back in time.
I also liked how the veggies and seafood were kept very light and void of additional oil or seasoning.
If you are feeling the munchies, they serve fries here too. But these are fusion fries. Starting from the left: Garlic Butter Fries, Kung Pao Fries, and Spicy Salt and Pepper fries. All of us hands down loved the Garlic Butter Fries. Apparently the fries are wok fried as well so it gave them that smokier flavour.
The Kung Pao fries were too sweet for us, and the Spicy Salt and Pepper fries took home second prize.
All in all, Chengdu Szechuan Bistro exceeded my expectations and its awesome to know that you can get Peking Duck in downtown without going to a fancy Chinese restaurant and paying top dollars for the same thing you can get here.