Delicious Country (味香園) lives up to its name
Cross-posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I must admit that for a long time I didn’t give Delicious Country a fair chance. The first time I went, it was on a Sunday at 3 PM, the place was empty, the food was slow, and I knew I could get good Sichuan food anyway at my favourite restaurant without having to try to find parking downtown. It’s been a while, so B. finally convinced me to give the place another shot last week.
We arrived in the middle of the lunch rush and the place was full. B. and I were just thinking about moving on when the server/hostess came and told us the wait would only be 15 minutes, and shoved a couple of menus into our hands. It was hard to leave after flipping through the colourful menu, and even harder when we saw and smelled the real dishes passing by en route to other diners’ tables. Fortunately, the restaurant was turning tables over pretty frequently and we were seated quickly.
The slogan on the cover of Delicious Country’s menu roughly translates to, “Southern and northern cuisines, all at Delicious Country”. Indeed, though they’re mainly known for their Sichuan food, the nearly 140-item menu features a lot of Cantonese rice and noodle dishes, as well as a few dishes here and there from other regions of China. There are lots of photos in the menu, and you are encouraged to order by number.
We started with a new-to-us dish – #39, Delicious Country’s Special Hand-Made Noodle (味香手擀面, $11.98).
The wide, flat noodles were slightly thicker than the mechanically-made variety, resulting in a slightly chewier texture, which I really liked. The noodles were simply stir-fried with cabbage, carrots and bite-sized pieces of pork in a light, soy-based sauce. Yummy.
We satisfied our greens quota with #121, Minced Pork with Green Beans (干扁四季豆, $12.98).
I would say they were cooked just a little longer than at Szechuan Restaurant, but were still able to maintain their crunch. At Delicious Country they prepare it with more of a Beijing influence, opting for a sweeter, zha jiang-like sauce for the minced pork.
We had wanted to keep things simple and small for lunch, but B. was tempted by the giant bowl of fish in chilli pepper soup over at another table. Delicious Country actually has three spicy fish dishes – #97, Delicious Country’s Special Fish (味香魚), was described to us as less spicy and less soupy than the other two. #98 is the traditional recipe (水煮魚) found in other Sichuan restaurants, and #99, Top Spicy Hot Fish (至尊香麻魚), which I’m assuming is spicier than #98. After consulting with the server, we got the traditional one. At $19.98, it is one of the pricier items on the menu, but the amount you get is well worth it (there are still leftovers in my fridge!)
The pieces of fish were super-soft and tender, in a flavourful broth filled with bean sprouts, broad beans, dried chillis, and a sprinkling of Sichuan peppercorns. I didn’t find the dish to be that spicy, but did eat a lot of rice, which soaked up the broth like a sponge, and helped to tone down the flavours just a touch.
In the end, B. and I left a big tip as we found the service to be efficient yet friendly, the food came out pretty fast and hot and it was all delicious. Three dishes down, 137 more to go…
Delicious Country (味香園)
104 – 303 Centre St SW
Calgary AB T2G 2B9
Open daily 11 AM-10 PM.