Two weeks passed and I didn’t lose any weight, and Stephen didn’t even bother to measure whether he did or not. But I had been going to the gym regularly, and that had to count for something. To further our own argument, we decided to walk from our house into town, a good two hours’ journey on foot.
We wanted to go to Ba Shan because we have been to both of its sister restaurants – the Baozi Inn, and Bar Shu (which is situated diagonally opposite Ba Shan). The Baozi Inn has become Stephen’s favourite go-to place for a cheap bite ever since he first sampled their dan dan noodles. Both places specialise in Sichuan food, which is a cuisine that favours lots of chillies, on everything, though you temper this by starting with a cold appetizer. They’re also quite partial to dishes involving offal.
Ba Shan is a little pricier than the Baozi, but not as expensive as Bar Shu. It is also influenced by the Hunanese region as opposed to just Sichuan. After two hours of walking we were pretty excited to be eating and could have fallen into the trap of our eyes being bigger than our bellies. The menu labels some starters and then lists the rest under whether they’re pork, beef, veggie etc and when the price of a pork dish is the same price as one of the starters, it’s a bit of a guess as to whether it’s of main dish size or starter size. But having experienced the portion sizes of similar places, we erred on the side of caution and only ordered three dishes between us.
Those three dishes were – Chairman Mao’s braised pork belly, lamb stir fried with hot chillies and sliced pig’s ears with hot chillies. At Stephen’s behest we had decided to be a bit more ‘adventurous’ and not stick to the safe things we always choose. I was fine with this – I thought they might turn out to be similar to other odd-sounding things I’d eaten lately (boar jowl and lamb’s neck to name a couple) that really turn out to just be normal-looking cuts of meat (though the lamb neck did freak me out a bit when I’d eaten all the meat off it and could discern the vertebrae). And of course some steamed rice to make us look a little less like total carnivores.
First to arrive was the lamb and rice. Absolutely delicious, we gobbled down half of the dish before realising quite how hot it was. There was quite a lot of ginger in the dish, as well as a Christmas colour scheme of chillies – fat chunks of red and green chillies confetti all over the meet, with a few of those dried red chillies that actually aren’t too pleasant to eat dotted among them.
|Utterly delicious lamb|
|It looks better than it tasted|
Like a lot of chinese places, the most applicable compliment you could pay to the service was that it was 'efficient'. We didn't have a reservation and were told when we arrived at six that we'd have to be out by half seven. As we hadn't planned on making an evening of it, this was no problem at all to us, and we were actually in and out within an hour. The atmosphere isn't too bad and the background music is a little out of the ordinary for a Chinese restaurant - contemporary pop music, and none too bad either.
One last thing – Stephen had a lychee drink as his beverage and it was lovely!
And on that note, remember:
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