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Image 1: www.southbeautygroup.com
This is the place for modern interpretation of Sichuan (四川) cuisine. Zhang Lan is now one of the most successful women in China and her empire began by opening the first South Beauty in 1991 using her part-time job savings of USD$20,000.
Image 2: With more than 50 branches all over China, South Beauty Group is now a leader in modern Chinese culinary culture with over a billion yuan annual revenue. We went to the branch in Pacific Century Place again as we enjoyed its stylish environment in our previous visit.
Image 3: Yes, it's Sichuan cuisine, you have to expect lots of chili!
Image 4: We booked a table over the phone. For some reason, the staff led us to a private room, but I insisted to have a table in the main dining room!
Image 5: Not only is the food innovative here, the décor is a trendy twist to the natural beauty of the southern Yangtze region with mini-waterfall and rivers running across the restaurant, hence the name South Beauty.
Image 6: The service is very friendly. He gave us quite a few recommendations and even suggested to tone down the spice level if we prefer! We basically sampled a few Sichuan classics.
Image 7: Southern Yangtze Duck Roll (¥28)
Sliced duck meat rolled and stuffed with salty yolks.
The saltiness from the rich yolk blended well with the chilled gamey meat. Very nice.
Image 8: Hanged-shirt White meat (¥38)
Thinly sliced pork and shredded carrots with spicy sauce
This is one of their signatures, resembling how the Sichuan locals dry their washed clothes.
Image 9: The meat was bland but it was all about the sauce! Sichuan is known for its use of the "three peppers": black pepper, Sichuan pepper, and chili pepper. The numb and tinling flavor is a unique characteristic from Sichuan peppercorn. This sauce was spicy but acceptable.
Image 10: Black fungus (¥38)
This simple cold dish was a surprise, surprisingly spicy it is! My tongue burned very bad after just one piece!
Image 11: Sliced lung by the married couple
Another cold dish but this one is absolutely unbearable!
Image 12: These slices of tongue and tripe were very tasty but it totally numbed my tongue, a totally different sensation than the previous dish. I couldn't feel my tongue anymore, again, after just one piece!
Image 13: Kung Pao Chicken
We all enjoyed this chicken very much. Nothing was hot anymore after the previous dish!
Image 14: Ma Po Tofu
Translates as "Pockmarked-Face Lady's Tofu". Again, very tasty with lots of flavours but still, I found it a bit too spicy!
Image 15: Four Treasures of Scholar's Studio - 文房四寶 (¥18/set)
This refers to the four items required for Chinese calligraphy. Of course, this is South Beauty's culinary interpretation!
Paper - Simply rice paper. Ink brush - Puff pastry brush head.
Image 16: Ink stick
Black sesame pancake
Image 17: Inkstone
Dried minced pork. This was superb -- crispy but fluffy. Very unique! The best item out of the four.
Image 18: We ordered a tofu dessert with a tableside display where a liquid turned into plain tofu after 5min.
Image 19: You eat it with various toppings - peanut butter, chive puree, fermented bean curd, crisp, spicy sauce, and honey. For savoury, use all of first 4; for spicy, add the 5th; for sweet, just the last one. There is no right or wrong, you just mix however you like!
Image 20: I love to see this modernization of Chinese culinary culture. It was a fun and enjoyable meal. There were still many dishes that we wanted to try from the menu. Will definitely come back here again. No wonder South Beauty is such a success.