The Guan Fu Sichuan restaurant is a new institution located in New York. The first time I worked into restaurant and smelled the chili pepper I knew that there was a new sheriff in town. In order to get admission to the establishment, you need to head to downtown of Flushing, Queens. You will cross the courtyard off Prince Street and head into the lion structures underneath a small Chinese gable roof. Now you have arrived at what I would refer to as a dignified dining restaurant. On entering the building, you will be greeted by properly vanished and polished wood panels that stand next to weathered wooden screens. The room is additionally well illuminated with natural light through the ceiling recesses. Welcome to my Sichuan experience.
As mentioned above, what had caught my attention was the smell of the chili pepper, however, my interest of the day was the mapo tofu. I admit it was the most good looking food presentation I had ever laid my eyes on. When I saw it I could not wait to get into one of the private rooms that are behind sliding doors in order to feast on what would be my meal of the day. On the menu, the price of the soup was only 60 dollars, a significantly small price to pay for the exquisite ambiance. The atmosphere does not fill your stomach, but instead, it slows you down and brings to life your senses to the taste and smell of the food you are looking forward to.
Unlike other Chinese restaurants, the Guan Fu Kitchen seems to avoid the usual strife of raiding one’s appetite with a hail of chilies. Their food is full of flavor that is brought about by their easy and even heating process. The proof of the pudding is in its taste, it came the time for me to get a taste of the tantalizing mapo tofu. From the first taste, I found that the chili heat was not full bore. However, other components such as the fermented beans were full of the chili heat. The tastiest was the mapo sauce which was deeply flavored than any I have ever tasted. The sauce was shimmering over giggly mounds of white tofu. Their combination could not be any more delicious, this was complemented by the cabbage fried with pork and fresh chili. The reason why the presentation appealed was the way the invisible presence of the Sichuan peppercorns got my lips and mouth tingling.
Another important component of the mapo tofu was the eggplant with iron plate. Just as it is normally cooked during the Sichuan spring festivals, the eggplant hardly had any heat. The eggplant had been slit open and stuffed with a pork eggplant filling then closed up, battered, and finally fried. Given the need to keep the heat low, the eggplant was severed in a pan kept over a small flame. There was a tension between sweet and sour on testing the eggplant, I believe this could have been brought about by the scallions and few lengths of dried chili in the sauce that the eggplant was coated with.
I would have loved to sample the rest of the menu including the Guan Fu-style Cuttlefish salad but I had enjoyed a first time experience to my fill. I will definitely be going there for more and get more of the Sichuan experience. Compared to other Chinese restaurants, the prices on the menu are quite high but I hold that the experience is worth every penny.