Ni-Hao: Welcome to Sichuan!

Usually Chinese restaurants are full of cheesy kitsch and serve a very European version of Asian food, overloaded with glutamte and artificial flavors. Fortunately there are exceptions like the No. 27 Restaurant.

The name of the restaurant comes – hello creativity! – from the house number. It prides itself to serve original asian food, with a focus on Sichuan kitchen. Well, I’ve never been in Sichuan and so can’t really compare whether it is authentic or not, but still: My taste buds are intact 🙂 From outside it looks like every other restaurant in the area. Inside it is refreshingly minimalisitc. No kitsch, no red dragons, no weird music.

Inside

I especially liked the big round tables with the rotating plate in the middle, what makes sharing easier. The personnel is very friendly and modest, very nice people. We first tried some starters:

Fried green chili pepper in spicy pepper sauce

Fried green chili pepper in spicy pepper sauce

This was just amazing! The green peppers were first very fruity on the tongue and then exploded like glass on the palate. The pepper sauce added a very hot and dense aroma to the more „green“ notes of the chilis. Very hot, very spicy – but it didn’t burn your throat for long, after some seconds just the excellent taste stayed.

Dim sum with shrimps and wild garlic

Dim sum with shrimps and wild garlic

They also offer a wide variety of dim sum. These were just great, not at all slimy but just perfectly steamed. The inside had shrimps and wild garlic, a very pleasant combination.

Beef carpaccio and tripe in a spicy Sichuan-sauce, Sweet-sour-spicy seaweed-salad

Beef carpaccio and tripe in a spicy Sichuan-sauce, Sweet-sour-spicy seaweed-salad

Two great choices for sald: The beef salad was just amazing – the different textures of meat and tripe added up to a great mouthfeel. Together with this very taste sauce it was a beautiful experience. The seaweed salad had this weird combination of sweet, sour and spicy at the same time. No comparison to ready-to-eat wakame, it was very complex in taste and crunchy in texture. Nice!

Crispy chicken with chillies and Sichuan pepper

Crispy chicken with chillies and Sichuan pepper

This turned out to be quite different from what I had expected: I thought the chicken would be in greater bits…finally it was tiny, tiny fried shreds of chicken. They were very crunchy, fatty bits of something – you wouldn’t recognise them as meat after all. They were mixed with a HUGE (!) amount of small fried chillies and different peppers. Eaten with rice it is a rather dry, a little bit oily way of preparation. But I was astonished by the beautiful taste. Again the chilis exploded in my mouth, this time together with the aromatic taste of the different Sichuan peppers, that were not hot but very complex in their taste. A very interesting and nice dish. I couldn’t eat everything up and took the rest with me – which I ate with noodles the other day (even better than with rice!).

Fried beef with pak-choi and oyster sauce

Fried beef with pak-choi and oyster sauce

A rather conventional dish, the beef was good though (maybe a bit too hard), the oyster sauce added a pleasent umami-note. Nice but not more.

Fried lamb with cumin

Fried lamb with cumin

This one was quite good, again it was a „dry“ preparation – but the cumin came out quite well and added up very pleasant with the lamb’s meat. Surprisingly the rucola with it’s black pepper notes fittet quite well.

Mango pudding

Mango pudding

Finally some Chinese-restaurant-standard: The mango pudding 🙂 This one was quite nice though…

No 27 Restaurant offers a lot of other offal dishes and a wide variety of Sichuan-style dishes that seem definetely worth trying. The prices are definetely higher than in your „normal“ Chinese place next door, but the portions are quite big and most of the things tasted very unusual and nice. For 2 Persons you should calculate 40€ including drinks.

Yesterday’s glory: Wini Brugger’s Indochine21

During this year’s Nespresso Gourmet Weeks I visited Wini Brugger’s Indochine 21 that had been on my bucket list for quite a long time. Brugger was awarded chef of the year 2006/07 and was incredibly successful in the mid 2000s.

The restaurant is situated on Vienna’s Ringstraße. On entering nobody was there to welcome us or to take our coats, so we had to wait some time until Mr. Brugger himself came over from a table, where he was drinking and chatting with friends, and helped us. The restaurant itself is decorated in an asia-fusion style which was not so much my taste:

Inside

Inside

We went for the fixed menue (3 courses, 24€). The service was friendly, but not really attentive altough the restaurant was almost empty. We started off with the couvert (3.5 €):

Couvert

Couvert

Well…there was some rather dry vegetable sticks, peanuts, wasabi mayo, crab chips and bread (?!). Nothing special, the mayo was good though.

Wakame seaweed salad with salmon sashimi and ingwer-chili-dip

Wakame seaweed salad with salmon sashimi and ingwer-chili-dip

First of all: I HATE WAKAME. At least the convenience shit they served here – this is full of artificial colors, aromas and preservants. The Wakame was topped with some salmon that was not fatty enough for sashimi and therefore dry and tasteless. The sauces were quite good though, especially the light nutty one. Quite a disappointing start.

Winter vegetable soup with tamarind and thai basil

Winter vegetable soup with tamarind and thai basil

The soup was ok, a dense and sweet-sour soup with fresh, crunchy vegetables and topped with some thai basil. Solid.

Deep fried cod with jungle curry and sezuan pepper

Deep fried cod with jungle curry and sezuan pepper

This was a joke: The cod was clearly old, though it was presented as „fish of the day“ and it tasted sluggish like old deep-frying oil. Moreover it was bedded on – guess what – Wakame again ! The curry below was relatively tasteless.

Stir fry organic duck from the wok with five spices and ginseng

Stir fry organic duck from the wok with five spices and ginseng

The high point (in a relative sense, tough) of the evening was this duck, that was glaced with an extremely thick, dark and very sweet sauce. The duck meat looked more like minced rests than real stir-fry meat, but was tasty and juicy. The „salad“ was again a joke – vinegar all over and the rice was completely tasteless.

Caramelized "wedding" banana pudding

Caramelized „wedding“ banana pudding

What shall I say…yes, there was banana in it. Yes it tasted like pudding. Yes, there was a burnt layer of caramel. No, it was not really nice. And no, the raspberry sauce didn’t fit in.

To be honest, I don’t have a clue where this restaurant got it’s fame from! It is kind of suspicious too, if the head chef is drinking with his friends all evening long and not even one time visits the kitchen. Suppose my food has been cooked and inspected by underpaid Vietnamese kitchen slaves. Maybe it was the „cheap“ calculated menue for Nespresso but they were cutting back extremely on product quality and on preparation. We paid 70€ including drinks – but this was really lost money!

Mochi!

The second district is known to be a Mekka for foodies – with a variety of nice places and restaurants. One that has been praised by critics lately is the asian fusion kitchen place called Mochi. So on a mild summer evening we went there to check it out.

The restaurant is situated on a beautiful paved place with hardly any car traffic and a statue of the famous Austrian poet Johann Nestroy watching over it. The atmosphere is just amazing:

Asian fusion restaurant Mochi - outside

Asian fusion restaurant Mochi – outside

First impression: Wow! The restaurant’s team is incredibly friendly, attentive and polite. Thumbs up for that! The menue is designed for sharing the food, so you have a big choice of rather well priced small dishes. Regarding drinks, they serve Asahi (a Japanese beer, brewed in Czechia) and Villacher both from bottles only. The beer choice could be better, especially with the fish a Weissbier, Weizen or a really dry Pils would be cool. But anyway.

Edamame and Sakura salad

Edamame and Sakura salad

The Edamame (immature soy beans) came with fresh horseraddish. After I’ve figured out, that you don’t eat them with the shell (stringy, stringy!!) they were just delicious 🙂 A very clean, green taste. The Sakura Salad was a mixed salad (bitterish herbs like rucola) with dried bonito flakes, daikon (a raddish) and sakura dressing. The salad was to die for – very tasty, balanced and like nothing I’ve eaten before. The slight fishiness was excellently countered by the sweetness of the dressing and the bitterness of the herbs. Amazing!

California Maki and Hot Mochi Roll

California Maki and Hot Mochi Roll

As a second course we took California Maki, which were well tempered (!) but not very exciting. The Hot Mochi Roll was a giant, deep fried Maki with eel, avocado, cucumber and egg. It wasn’t really hot but VERY tasty and well composed.
Again great service: One of the owners of the place served the roll and admitted that one piece had fallen down (so we got 5 insted of 6). As a compensation he invited us for the dessert – a great gesture!

Skewers: Chicken, Beef, Shiitake

Skewers: Chicken, Beef, Shiitake

Finally we went for some skewers. If you take 3 skewers, they come with a free bowl of rice. They were all great, very tender meat and a thick, dark and sweet marinade. For my taste the marinade was a bit too sweet after all, but the fresh spring onions on top balanced that a bit.

Mochi

Mochi

As a dessert we chose Mochi, mooncakes filled with red bean paste and walnuts. I’m no particular fan of Asian sweets – but those were just great, with a very tasty filling.

Except that I took an insect bite from an unknown predator on my back (it hurt!!!) it was a perfect evening. We payed 40 Euros, including 2 drinks – a place with real value for money and incredibly tasty, fresh food!