I’d been very curious about what lied within Crystal Mall – what with it’s insane Death Star-like layout, randomly named shops (“Ice Baby”? “Pittsburg Restaurant”?!!?), you know that good stuff has to be hidden there!
Karl’s post really tipped the scales for me – he posted a rave review about S&W Pepper House a while back, so we braved the labyrinth and found this little restaurant.
S&W is quite nice looking inside, with some nice wooden accents, and lots of bright light. We sat in the back at a booth and perused the menu (though the pictures out in front of the restaurant were more helpful in helping us decide what to get). I lost my receipt it seems, so the prices I’ve listed are approximations. Please let me know if I’m wrong!
First up – Fried Peanut! I knew this was going to be a hit with my mom who loves crunchy, spicy, sweet food. I was very happy that these lived up to my every expectation – very spicy with lots of Sichuan pepper, savoury from the dark soy sauce, earthy thanks to sesame oil and the peanuts themselves, and a bright, acidic note from the fresh cilantro and lime juice. This was marvelous!
Our main dish was Stir fried pork with pancakes – which is a very simple dish but I really enjoyed it. The pork was well cooked, and nicely coated with a simple sauce (not spicy at all – it was even slightly sweet), served over some shredded scallion with thin pancakes (like the kind you get with Peking Duck). Everything was well made – the pancakes were especially good (I’ve found that the kind you get with duck have become quite small now and thick compared to what you got about 15 years ago). We ordered extra pancakes to finish the dish, which I don’t think we were charged for.
To make sure we had some veggies, we got these long green beans. I think these were steamed before being stir-fried, so they were very tender. I found the quality of these beans to be very high compared to the kinds you get at dim sum – there was a lot more “meat” to the bean, if that makes any sense. A bit of ground pork, fried garlic, and perhaps chicken-broth-based sauce topped it off.
The final dish we ordered (not counting rice, which was pretty expensive at $4 for the mini-bucket!) was a whole fried sweet & sour fish. The presentation was impressive, with the filets nicely sliced into fan-like pieces before being battered and fried. The sauce was a little on the generic side though, and while the addition of peas, carrot bits, and pine-nuts was interesting, I have to say it didn’t add anything to the dish overall. I am not sure what kind of fish this was – the owner of the restaurant (who was, by the way, very nice and patient while my parents prodded for recipes!) said something about rock cod… It held up to being fried, and was still soft but wasn’t mushy at all. Perhaps a different cooking style would be more appealing for me.
We tried to finish the dishes, but couldn’t find any more room! Anyhow, I found this meal to be a fantastic lunch – especially those amazing peanuts – I’d be game to come back and try other things, that is, if I can ever find my way back!