I think I bungled my attempt to explore Hunan cuisine and I don’t know if I’ll be able to rectify that in NYC. Grand Sichuan has a few items from the region, but I can’t think of any dedicated restaurants. I’m all ears if anyone has suggestions.
Everything I read went on about how fiery the food is; hotter than Sichuan minus the peppercorns. I blandly mis-ordered, thinking Guyi was where I was meant to get the pork knuckle when it was actually Jishi. Oh well, the massive parcel of tender meat kept us occupied for some time. The slew of dried chiles were really more for looks, though. I enjoyed plucking wedges of meat from the gelatinous casing, though I do prefer the crispy exteriors associated with Filipino crispy pata or German schweinehaxe. Pork skin is meant to be chomped on.
We had quite a bit of time to pick at our cold chile beef and peanuts with preserved vegetable. We started wondering if they’d forgotten about our pork knuckle. We also wondered if we were going to get the fish dish I pointed to that elicited a grunty, “eh” from our waitress. Was “eh” a no or a guttural comment we couldn’t decipher? The fish never appeared, which was for the best since the knuckle was all we could handle. Maybe “eh” meant you are being piggish and I will only allow one entrée.
Lotus root was crunchy, mild and lightly sweet. I’m sure it would’ve been a fitting counterpart to a hotter dish.
If we had one more day in Shanghai I definitely would’ve tried nearby Di Shui Dong, another Hunan restaurant that was supposed to be slightly more down market. The room was only this sparse because we showed up at the tail end of lunch and many restaurants close during the afternoon.
Guyi * 87 Fumin Lu, Shanghai, China