Chong Qing Xiao Chu

Update: This business has ceased its operations.

Similar to the adjacent Sichuan Province, Chongqing cuisine (重庆菜 or 渝菜) is characterized by the fusion of four primary flavors: numbing (麻), pungent (辣), sour (酸) and aromatic (香), with particular focus on the first two. Chongqing chefs are liberal in using spices such as Sichuan peppers (花椒), chili peppers (辣椒), chili oil (辣椒油) and garlic (蒜头) to enhance the flavor in their masterpieces.
One of the few Chongqing-style restaurants in Penang is Chong Qing Xiao Chu (重庆小厨) at Gurney Paragon. It is located on level 5, between the Just Food food court and Sukhothai Noodle House. This restaurant is operated by the same team as Chiow Lin Steamboat Restaurant (桥林重庆火锅馆) at Abu Siti Lane.
Hailing from her native city of Chongqing, the owner of this business establishment is very friendly and talkative. Despite the surprisingly large crowd on a weekday evening, she took some time to introduce and recommend the menu dishes. Throughout our meal, we shamefully requested for multiple drink refills, a number of broth refills and several gas canister replacements (details on this later), yet she is very accommodating to attend to our every little needs.
There is one unique feeling which you cannot find in just any restaurant: the human touch (人情味); Chong Qing Xiao Chu is one of such rare places.
Our dinner today is one of Chongqing's favorite: Chongqing Hot Pot (RM38.00, 重庆火锅). The dining area does not have gas or electric stoves built into the tables. Instead, portable butane gas burners are used. Surprisingly in a single meal seating, we had to use 4 gas canisters in total. Either the canisters were nearly empty, or we were dining for a very long time.
We were provided with 2 hot pots as we ordered two sets. As recommended, we chose one of each of the two available soup base: Clear Broth (清汤) and Spicy Broth (麻辣).
As for the raw ingredients, the portion is plentiful four mouths to feed. Some of these ingredients are so mouth-watering that we simply cannot wait for them to be cooked!

The Pork Slices are among the best I ever tasted! The meat is a good mixture of lean and fatty sections. In less than a minute, the thin cuts of pork are quickly cooked in the simmering broth. I prefer not to overcook the meat so that its savory juice is retained. Once done, the Pork Slices have little problem finding their way down our hungry mouths.
Other ingredients for the hot pot are Meatballs, Fish Balls, Prawn Balls, Luncheon Meat, Abalone Slices (鲍鱼片), Crab Sticks (蟹柳), Enoki Mushrooms (金针菇), Leaf Lettuce (油麦菜) and Bean Curd Skin (腐竹).
In particular, we find the double-layered Meatballs quite special. The outer shell is made of smooth ground pork, while the inner filling is loose minced pork. The inner filling retains its distinctive savory flavor because its taste has not been diluted by the broth.
The Clear Broth is not as plain as one will expect. It is rich in chicken flavor and quite appetizing. It also has a mild hint of natural sweetness from goji berries (枸杞).
As for the Spicy Broth, to our dismay, it is not as spicy as served in Chongqing (lip burning and tongue numbing). I believe the spiciness has been toned down to accommodate the local populace's level of tolerance. Perhaps it is a blessing in disguise. If the Spicy Broth were as spicy as the original, we will be coughing continuously to the pungent Sichuan pepper fumes.
Each set also includes some instant noodles and a bowl of rice. I wish there were two bowls of rice for each set, so that we need not share among ourselves.
For drinks, Chinese Tea is available free-flow. Drinks are quite necessary because the heat from the hot pot makes short work of body moisture.
Indeed, our dinner at Chong Qing Xiao Chu is an exquisite experience. We enjoy every dish to the very last bit. It is a pity that we do not have remaining space in our stomachs for other dishes on the à la carte menu. But we will return soon to try other signature Chongqing delicacies, such as the Twice Cooked Pork (回锅肉), Dan Dan Noodles (担担面) and Mapo Tofu (麻婆豆腐).

7 comments:

  1. wow good review :) here's mine :P

    http://spelljourney.blogspot.com/2014/07/060714-chong-qing-xiao-chu-gurney.html

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  2. Looks nice ! How much per set for the steamboat?

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    Replies
    1. The price of a 2-person set was RM38.00. :-)

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    2. Hi,i just saw the chiow lin steambot in groupon,it is RM38 for two.
      And only one soup to choosing.
      Your meal more worth,right.
      Hehe

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    3. I think it is the same, right? :-)

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    4. U mean that u used groupon,so the price is RM38?

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