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Fangcao Pin Wei Xuan
11am - 10pm
21 Fangcao St., Yulin District
028 8551 1593

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Mark Hiew (more chengdu)
Of all the great dishes in the Sichuan oeuvre, perhaps the one I most pity vegetarians for not being able to enjoy is twice-cooked pork. Fish-fragrant (yushang) eggplant is just as delicious as its sliced pork cousin, if not better, given eggplant’s remarkable ability to absorb surrounding flavors while maintaining its own. Kungpao tofu, while perhaps not reaching the heights of the chicken emperor, still makes for an enjoyable substitute. But how do you replicate twice-cooked pork, without the pork? The answer, thanks to the accommodating chefs at Pin Wei Xuan, just off of the Yulin Xi Road intersection, is potato.

Lovers of the local dry-fried potato strips (gan bian tudou si), “Three Fresh Earthy Foodstuffs” (di san xian), and other incarnations of the universal tuber in Chinese cooking, prepare yourselves for something special: Pin Wei Xuan’s hui guo tudou pian provides all the savory leek and soybean richness of the original without the artery-clogging meatiness that has denied some unfortunate souls its zesty pleasures for too long. Does it lose some of the sweet textured notes that the fatty pork provides? Of course. But the gentle yield of the thin potato pieces offers a refreshing, almost tieban-like softness and gentility to the dish.

And the price for this rich slice (numerous slices, in fact) of golden heaven? A mere eight yuan. It’s not even on the menu, so you’ll have to ask for it.

Beyond its hidden jewel, the rest of Pin Wei’s menu is filled out and well-priced. The sweet and sour chicken, (tang cu li qi) (18RMB) was fine, if unspectacular, the fengwei greens (6RMB) were fresh and light, and the xiongzhang tofu (10RMB) offered a crunchier, heftier take on the standard jiachang variety. The food was served at a blistering rate and service was attentive.

Pin Wei Xuan is not a place for fancy affairs; it’s a local dive, with minimalist décor and a clean, uncomplicated set-up. It provides hearty, delicious fare that won’t run you more than 15RMB per head, as well as a, near perfect, potato take on a Sichuan classic. Let’s hope it catches on.

Fangcao Pin Wei Xuan
Fangcao Pin Wei Xuan Fangcao Pin Wei Xuan