四川火锅, or 麻辣火锅, meaning spicy hotpot or even 火锅 or Huo Guo – Fire Pot is very aptly named. While resembling all forms of Chinese communal pot cooking which orginates way back to Mongolia, the szechuan hot pot has some potent ingredients not found in other types of hot pot. Instead of some nice, clear soup or broth that is featured in the others, we have a large vat of spicy oil which includes hot red peppers and Huajiao 火锅. Sichuan pepper (or Szechuan pepper) is the outer pod of the tiny fruit of a number of species in the genus Zanthoxylum (most commonly Zanthoxylum piperitum, Zanthoxylum simulans, and Zanthoxylum sancho), widely grown and consumed in Asia as a spice. Despite the name, it is not related to black pepper. It is widely used in the cuisine of Sichuan, China, from which it takes its name, as well as Tibetan, Bhutani, and Japanese cuisines, among others. It is known in Chinese as 花椒 literally “flower pepper”; a lesser-used name is 山椒 shānjiāo, “mountain pepper” (not to be confused with Tasmanian mountain pepper). In Japanese, it is 山椒 sanshō, using the same Chinese characters as shanjiao. Actually, there’s also another name for this pepper, it’s called “HellFire” pepper because after consuming it, you WILL definitely have a insatiatble craving for water plus you realize that most of your mouth is numb (good time to pull that wisdom tooth of yours) and your lips are probably twice as fat as before!
So it’s with this expectation that we descended into the quiet township of Aman Suria. There lies a restaurant, the name I forget due to the potent effect of the abovesaid pepper. We proceeded inside after a hot walk in Kiara park — a seriously bad idea and the flaw in the plan so be waned. Next time, soak in a ice cold tub or something before attempting this feat. This is no joke and ignore my warning at your own peril! Ordering a large simmering pot of szechuan spicy pot, we also had various starters which while potent, serves as just a prelude to the fires that will come. A casual survey of the dinning place revealed that everyone else feared this dreaded fire so much that most ordered bland noodles or had hotpots with clear herbal soup. Bunch of pansies compared to us fearless culinary adventurers. Patrons leaving would gesture at our apparent bravery or foolishness. Having trained at the prestigious Beijing Hot Pot restaurants, this was as hot as chewing cucumbers but of course the walk under the hot sun did us in. However, the hot pot was of average quality, with more oil than peppers so it was a bit thin. Any true Beijing’er would laugh this hot pot off but I think the average Malaysian would meet their match here!