A taste of Szechuan with Moola – Zhi Wei Yuan Restaurant KL

January 29, 2013 at 5:00 pm

How many times have we walked past a shop or a restaurant without realising what is offered in there? I know I do. In our haste to reach our destination on time, these shops have been reduced to blurry images that recede into the background. One such restaurant was Zhi Wei Yuan, located along Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur.

Zhi Wei Yuan specialises in Szechuan cuisine, and as Chinese cuisines are a big mystery to me, I did not have any preconceived expectations prior to dining at this outlet. I was there with a couple of friends, including Emily Tang of Sunrise Emily blog and Evelyn Ang of Missyblurkit.com, courtesy of Moola, the first ever homegrown Cash-Back Lifestyle programme by ICT Utopia. The girls had a lot to say about their experience here, so please remember to see how it went for both of them!

Read: Emily’s first encounter of the Szechuan kind
Read: Evelyn loves it SPICY… for food of course

It turns out that Szechuan food is famous for its spicy dishes and the generous use of its Szechuan peppercorns in cooking. These peppercorns are known to possess a unique aroma and flavour that is very much unlike its more well-known counterparts, the black and white pepper. Regulars patrons who know exactly what they want can have their dishes customised according to their requests. Freshness is their main emphasis when it comes to choosing their ingredients to ensure quality dishes. Most of their basic ingredients used in preparation of their meals are brought in from China.

Our dishes for the evening looked pretty common, but let me tell you, this lot packs a punch taste wise! The manager offered us a very useful tip to fight off the heat from the peppercorns – that is to drink Wong Lo Kat (a type of Chinese sweet herbal drink) instead of the usual cold water to complement our meal. Our dinner started off with prawns fried in spicy sauce. The prawns were fresh, and it the first of many great tasting dishes that made the dinner great.

Surprisingly, Wong Lo Kat really does help cool down the spiciness of the Szechuan pepper!

To me, food is like songs and movies; you may encounter a great many of them throughout your life, but only a few will actually leave a lasting impression. For me, the Sichuan Style Braised Fish Fillet with Beancurd was one such dish. I never knew that a combination of simple ingredients like fish fillet, soft beancurd and salted preserved vegetable could become something so delicious. The taste of the soup is strong enough that it gives the whole dish its flavour, but not so strong that it overpowers the beancurd and fish fillet.

Sichuan Style Fried Prawn with Spicy Sauce - delicious down to the very last bite!

Sichuan Style Braised Fish Fillet with Beancurd - Though it may look simple, one taste of this dish and you will fall in love with it

We were also treated to a serving of Fried Spareribs in Sweet & Sour Sauce and Chongqing Stir Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli. Unlike some restaurants where the colour of the sauce LOOKS delicious but in fact lacks in taste, this dish is just perfect – not too sweet, just enough hint of sourness to make it tender and yummy with every bite! Definitely a must try for lovers of pork spare ribs. For frog lovers, look out for the Dry Braised Spicy Edible Frog. Though it was slightly salty to the taste, the frog meat was fresh and tender, making this dish a great accompaniment with rice.

Fried Spareribs in Sweet & Sour Sauce - a must try for spareribs lovers

Chongqing Stir Fried Chicken with Dried Chilli - spicy to the last morsel!

Dry Braised Spicy Edible Frog

The chef also made us a few other non-spicy dishes like the Sauteed Hand Ripped Cabbage, Xinjiang Boiled Lamb Cutlets, Sauteed Shredded Potato with Salted Egg Yolk. Again, do not be fooled by these simple looking dishes. The cabbage tastes absolutely scrumptious! The vegetable is crisp and tasty with a slight sweetness and a hint of vinegar added to it, yet there isn’t any of the raw vegetable taste that is present as a result of undercooking. If you were to ask the manager as to how the lamb is prepared, you’d be surprised with the answer. There isn’t any gamey taste and it doesn’t feel like you are chewing rubber with every bite.

Sauteed Hand Ripped Cabbage - the cabbage tastes crisp with a slight sweetness to it. One of the many favourites for the night

Xinjiang Boiled Lamb Cutlets - who knew that lamb could taste this wonderful cooked this way

Sauteed Shredded Potato with Salted Egg Yolk - looks like noodles right? It's actually shredded potato coated with salted egg yolk. Another favourite for the night

By now, anyone would already be so full that it would seem impossible to take another bite. Maybe it was the rainy weather, or it could be the company that we had, we were definitely up for one more dish – the famous Sichuan Hot Pot. We chose the Spicy Fish Hot Pot. This item comes with 3 side dishes of your choice, 6 condiments and lots of fish meat underneath that bubbling soup. The condiments, which are raw garlic, spring onions, sesame seed oil, peppercorn oil, chopped red and cilantro, play a part in enhancing your eating experience.

Sichuan Hot Pot - Spicy Fish

The side dishes and condiments that comes together with the order of hot pot

Glutinous Rice Balls in Sweet Rice Wine Soup - a nice dessert to round up the night

Unlike the conventional hot pot where you drink large quantities of the soup, the soup for this hot pot can be a tad too spicy and oily for anyone. That is why one of the condiments given with every dish is sesame seed oil. When mixed with the other condiments of your choice, it will prevent the person from suffering from heartburn. A very useful tip indeed!

It was close to 11pm by the time our dinner ended. Everyone went back with a big smile on their faces and a slightly bigger waistline! Though eating at Zhi Wei Yuan can be slightly expensive, it was worth every dollar. It may seem that we have managed to taste quite a number of dishes today, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. I will definitely make Zhi Wei Yuan a stop in my continuing journey of exploring Szechuan cuisine.

This Dining With Moola experience is courtesy of Moola, the first-ever Cash-Back Lifestyle Programme specially designed for shoppers to enjoy free shopping, great savings and best deals in town. Moola is a mobile application that utilises QR code technology for all interactions; from member registration, Moola accumulation and redemption, to the actual shopping.

Moola Frenz who dine at Zhi Wei Yuan are entitled to a 10% cash back everytime! What’s more, you can also grab FreeMakan vouchers for even MORE savings here!

Moola is completely hassle-free; no administrative effort; no joining fee; no cards; and comes with even greater flexibility for shoppers to enjoy the variety of rewards for redemption. Visit www.moola.my for more information and download the Moola app today! Apple, Android and Blackberry phones supported.

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