Beijing 2009 - Ma La Restaurant at Gui Jie
"Ma La" basically means "numbing spiciness". The heat comes from dried chili, and the numbing sensation comes from Sichuan pepper - and they use tons of it here ! Sichuan pepper is different from ordinary pepper - it is not as sharp and spicy. However after a while you feel a numbness on you tongue and lips which you either like or dislike. I quite like the sensation, but my friends hated it.
This is the "Ma La Stew with Frogs". Look at the amount of dried chili used ! I am not a big fan of frogs, having been put off it during a trip to Indonesia where it was served on every meal. Here the frogs were quite big - the meat tender, but besides the spiciness there wasn't much other taste.
Simple stirfried french beans.
A fish soup. The soup is flavoured with bean paste and ginger, and quite good. The fish is a bit bland, like most freshwater fish.
This is my favourite dish - deepfried prawns with cucumber and dried chili. It is kind of like a spicy salad.