Snazz Sichuan, King’s Cross

December 1, 2009


Hot and Numbing Pork

When a friend announced that his birthday meal would be at Snazz Sichuan in King’s Cross, I grinned from ear to ear and swiftly ticked another one off the hit list. These types of meal are only possible with groups of three or more really, otherwise you can never order enough different hot and cold dishes to make the meal complete. With six of us present, we managed to give the lazy Susan a really good work out, spinning her this way and that with eager eyes and poised chopsticks.

Our particularly enthusiastic waiter offered suggestions and gentle warnings, which was very sweet of him really; he obviously wasn’t sure if we knew exactly how much oil, chillies and tongue tingling peppercorns we were about to receive.

The first and only item I really had to have was the cucumber salad. In Sichuan cuisine, the humble cuke is totally transformed; the above marinated in rice wine and mellowed garlic and here stir fried with chillies and Sichuan pepper. The seeds are removed and moisture salted out, transforming limp and watery into crisp and cooling.

My favourite dishes were the hot and numbing pork (top photo) which arrived bathing in a typically Sichuan scarlet chilli pool and lived up to its name rather well, and the crispy pig’s intestines, below. If you’ve never eaten crispy fried intestines, then you are missing out on a tasty piece of pig – pull yourself together! An initial outer crunch gives way to a little soft layer underneath, which makes for a chewy finish; highly addictive. That said, I think these were sliced a little on the thick side for my taste and I prefer the version at Chilli Cool, in nearby Leigh Street.

Jelly fungus was another highlight; with a texture like a cross between jellyfish and seaweed, they were slippery customers, liberally sprinkled with sesame oil.

‘Strange flavour rabbit’ was lacking strangeness but delicious anyway (and very similar to this version I cooked recently), while boiled pork slices were forgettable, as was ox haslet. The real let down though was the BBQ prawns which arrived in a strangely charming novelty dish shaped like a fish but contained a mix of curiously flavour-sapped prawns, various shredded things and then, inexplicably, some flaccid chips. The kind of chips that only a Chinese restaurant can produce. Most remained untouched.

When all is said and done, I have to be honest and say that I was slightly underwhelmed by Snazz Sichuan. By the end of the meal, our noses were running and our napkins well and truly soiled and yet I felt it lacked the intensity of the food at Chilli Cool. I’m not sure everyone agreed that the food lacked punch but I have fonder memories of this crazy grouper hotpot (below) and of course, my first crispy intestines. I do remember feeling that my head might be about to fall off but personally I admire an all or nothing approach.

I would definitely return to Snazz Sichuan, particularly for that jelly fungus and hot and numbing pork but with Snazz and Chilli Cool being so close to one another, I’m going to find it hard to make that choice.

Snazz Sichuan
37 Chalton Street
0207 388 0808

Snazz Sichuan on Urbanspoon

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  • Avatar
    Reply Niamh December 1, 2009 at 9:53 am

    Glad you liked it and really sorry I couldn’t make it. I agree re: Chilli Cool and Snazz. Chilli Cool wins for me but only just. I went to Snazz last year with (I think) 21 others and we had a veritable banquet, it was great. But I think Chilli Cool delivers the same in less grand surroundings, and is a little bit cheaper.

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    Reply Lizzie December 1, 2009 at 10:06 am

    We had pretty similar views, though I really like the ox haslet slices. I think Chilli Cool trumps, though it was far more painful! Great pics.

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    Reply shayma December 1, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    not fair. all the good sichuan food has so much pork in it. why did my parents indoctrinate me so. *stomps feet*
    looks like you guys had a great time, Lizzie wrote a great write-up, too.
    the cucumbers look great, i would have gone for those, too.
    hope there was lots of good beer to go with the meal.

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    Reply Greedy Diva December 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Gorgeous photos – even the humble cuke salad looks the goods. Ok, I’m convinced. I must try this place.

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    Reply Jeanne December 1, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Holy mother, look at that pot of chillies!!! Great review – I am actually tempted by the crispy fried intestines. Baffled by the strange flavour rabbit – though – WTF?! Funny-tasting bunny??

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    Reply Jonathan December 2, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Looks like a really fun evening. I’m just glad I made it to Chilli Cool… I’m very surprised by the sneaky chips!

    I still tell people about the intestines…

    I’m intrigued by the jelly fungus – were they just about texture or did they have a flavour hit as well?

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    Reply Helen December 2, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Niamh – yeah I agree. It has the edge for me. I think it’s unfortunate for them they are in the same area really! I would definitely go back though. I forgot to mention the price too. We spent £31 each at Snazz (including a few beers) but it was about £20 each at Chilli Cool wasn’t it?

    Lizzie – I really don’t remember the haslet slices for some reason. I think about that hot and numbing pork all the time. I think another visit to Chilli Cool is on the cards too – just to make sure…

    Shayma – There was indeed lots of beer! Well, three. The cucumber salad is just brilliant. I highly recommend having a go at one at home. Then you can make your own pork free dishes too.

    Greedy Diva – Yes, you are right – you must.

    Jeanne – I know! It can be very intimidating when you go for your first Sichuan meal and that arrives in front of you! Fear not though, the food is hot, yes, but you don’t eat all those dried chillies. You just pick between them. They sometimes scatter on a bit of fresh chilli but you can also avoid that. Oh I’m craving hotpot massively now.

    Jonathan – I was also surprised by the arrival of the chips! Very sneaky indeed. I am also an intestines bore. Amazing. The fungus was more about the texture – a bit like eating jellyfish. The flavour was from the sesame oil really which I think brought out an bit of earthiness from the fungus perhaps.

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    Reply Chris December 3, 2009 at 9:52 am

    It was a bit tame compared to Chilli Cool wasn’t it? I hardly detected much of a use of the Szechuan peppercorns at all, which isn’t really on for a Szechuan restaurant.

    Still enjoyed it though, and the service was excellent. Thanks for coming along, and thanks for the card 🙂

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    Reply Sharmila December 3, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I totally agree – Snazz is tasty, but Chilli Cool always does it for me, especially the boiled beef in spicy water or whatever it is called. My friend went to Chilli Cool to have the hotpot (the have now opened the space next door just to serve hotpot!) and said it was great, so that’s going to be my destination for food in the run up to Xmas!

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    Reply Martin December 4, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    I have fond memories of the haslet, I think Lizzie and I polished it off between us. I’ve tried about a dozen times since Friday to explain to people why the word “intestine” should not make one gag, and how these really are incredibly tasty but sadly, to no avail. I was so glad Chris ordered them, if they did them in bags to takeaway, I’d be in there daily I think.

    The prawns were truly weird, considering the presentation, quite an anti-climax. I think I agree with most of these comments – Chilli Cool has the edge!

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    Reply Billy December 8, 2009 at 8:13 am

    Have you heard of My Old Place (or however the chinese gets translated) – there’s one over in Bethnal Green (I’ve been told) and a newer branch just off Bishopsgate. It’s round the corner from my office and is a standard lunchtime haunt for rather good remove-the-side-of-the-head sichuan food. They also do barbequeued meat studded with chillis – the lamb skewers being a special favourite of mine.

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    Reply Helen December 12, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Billy – No I haven’t! Thanks for the tip off! I will check it out asap. I’ve just heard through a fellow blogger that there is also a place opening on the Old Kent Rd. A must go I think.

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    Reply Charlotte September 14, 2012 at 9:11 am

    Went here last night – I know it’s not your favourite place but we LOVED it. Now called Red n Hot. The cucumber was a winner! Thanks for writing about it.

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