chinese/sichuan: chili house (川饌美食館)

date february 12, 2011

contact No. 250-3, Sec. 4, Zhongxiao East Rd., Daan District, Taipei/02.2788.9637/台北市大安區忠孝東路四段250-3號

hours 7 days a week [lunch] 11:30-14:30 [dinner] 17:30-22:00

price 300-600NT per person

rating ♥♥♥ (3 hearts out of 5)

nearest mrt Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT or Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall (忠孝敦化或國父紀念館捷運站)

website http://www.just-hot.com/

As a lover of spicy foods, Chili House was recommended to me by Stephanie. I always want to do Chinese food, but it’s really only good if you have a group to go with since it’s family style. So, for my birthday I decided then was as good a time as any. Chili house is located right off of Zhongxiao East Road. It’s in one of the alleys, so look out for it. The restaurant is located between two MRT stations, so you can take either one and it’s about the same distance. If you’re coming from Zhongxiao Dunhua MRT it’ll be on the right side of Zhongxiao E. Road. If you are coming from Sun Yat Sen MRT it will be on the left side.

I made reservations the day before for Saturday night at 7pm for 10. When we got there Saturday night there was quite a wait. Even though I had made reservations, we still were not sat until 7:30pm. It seems like the reservations are more of a call a head waiting deal; all the other people with reservations were also waiting. Either way, I would recommend calling in for reservations.

The inside of Chili House is a pretty decent size. There are probably about 8 or 9 large round tables that can fit 10-15 people and maybe 8 booths  that can seat 6-8. Basically you can fit a lot of people in here.

I noticed while we were waiting for out table that there were a lot of foreigners; lots of japanese people and random western businessmen. This is good for those who do not read or speak Chinese. Not only is their menu in Chinese, Japanese, and English, it’s also a FULL picture menu. Literally every item on their menu is accompanied by a picture.

We decided to order the steamed spicy pork ribs with yams and rice (粉蒸排骨) for 130NT. The only other place I’ve had this is at Yong Kang Beef Noodle. This was pretty great, but not really that spicy. It had great flavor and the pork was fall off the bone tender. My favorite part was probably the yam buried under the rice and pork. From being buried under the rice it soaks up the spicy and pork flavor. So good. For the price this is kind of small, but it’s pretty tasty. It tastes about the same as the one at Yong Kang Beef Noodle, I think (it’s been a while since I’ve had it there).

There were some out of town visitors at this dinner and one was a little less adventurous than the rest of us. As a result, she decided to get one safe dish. The sauteed spicy shredded beef with celery and carrots for 320NT (乾煸牛肉絲) was not something I would get again. It was kind of dry and less than stellar. Kind of tasted like something you’d get at Panda Express. Also, for something with the word spicy in it, it didn’t taste spicy. This wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t special in anyway.

In October I got this dish at a different restaurant and since then have been obsessed with it. The braised pork ribs in brown sauce for 520NT (蔥燒嫩玉排) was really tasty. It comes with these steamed buns that you put the pork, sauce, and veggies into to create a little sandwich. The pork is well seasoned and really  tender. The steamed buns came out nice and hot, kind of like mantou almost. I do like making the little sandwich and getting a bite of every ingredient, but I actually just like eating the pork by itself. Would totally get this again.

When I’m in the US I almost always get the 乾煸四季豆. This was not what I’m used to. It was served with a doughy wrap bread that was super tasty. You’re supposed to put the green beans inside the wrap and eat it together, but I preferred to eat them separately. The hot wrap was really tasty; I don’t even really know how to describe other than it’s like the wrap you get when you order Peking duck. The beans itself were on the salty side, which is why you’re supposed to wrap it. I liked the wrap better than I liked the green beans…which I feel is not what was supposed to happen. The beans were just kind of lacking something. They were a little too dry and too salty.

One of Chili House’s signature dishes is their wontons in red chili oil (紅油抄手). For 70NT you get a small bowl of about eight wontons. These were good, but not anything spectacular considering it is a signature dish. The meat was good inside, well seasoned, and the chili oil sauce was okay, I just feel like I’ve had better. I really love wontons in red chili oil so I get them almost every time I see it on the menu. Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of it, and this one kind of just fell in the middle of the ones I’ve had; not great, not bad, just average.

Overall, I thought that Chili House was okay. I think we just didn’t order the right dishes. This place was packed with people, so it must be good, I think we just didn’t order right. Actually, we didn’t really get anything spicy…I definitely want to go back and try other things, but based on this visit I was left with a pretty neutral feeling about it.

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