A mouth numbing menu

Hitani Kaur        Print Edition: June 10, 2012

Sandwiched between concrete, Chilli Fagara is almost indiscernible were it not for the very dramatic red flames creeping up at the entrance. Although the fiery welcome is intended for decorative purposes, it would be wise to treat it as a warning: spice ahead. Enter at your own risk.

As is evident by the name, this Michelin-starred restaurant takes spice to a whole new level. Fagara, which means 'mouth-numbing', certainly lives up to its name. The menu comes from China's Sichuan region which is famed for its fiery pepper corns. For patrons of the island's central food district, a meal here is an unmissable experience. In fact, I was introduced to this 16-seater eatery by friends who are regulars, so they rattled off our order in no time.

Cuttlefish in chilli oil
Cuttlefish in chilli oil
The menu went like this: chicken dumplings, prawns in chilli powder, cuttlefish with bamboo shoot, and spiced asparagus. Despite being an arrogant spicetarian with an insatiable appetite for all things hot, I was not prepared for the fireworks that ensued.

The dumplings opened the meal with a solid punch to my mouth. They came immersed in a bowl of chilli oil, and were succulent and well-seasoned. Two dumplings in, and my lips began to tingle. Next we dug into the prawns slathered in powdered chilli, which were hot in both senses of the word and cooked just perfect. After just a couple of bites the mild tingling that first arrived with the dumplings had morphed into a raging firestorm. But I just couldn't get myself to stop.

Needless to say, you end up drinking large quantities of water (which you have to pay for) to douse the spice. That makes you feel full sooner than you'd like, but we braved through the burning. After a short breather, it was time to move on to the cuttlefish. Spice and seasoning wafted through my mouth as I chewed on the stubborn meat of the cuttlefish. Pair that with intermittent bites of the asparagus, and the contrast of textures, spices and flavours were an absolute winner for me.

By the end of the meal, the spice had travelled from my tongue to my brain, leaving me almost dizzy from the explosions in my mouth. Your best hope for relief is to do what we did. Walk across the street to Sift Dessert Bar and appease your abused tastebuds.

Popular in Hong Kong for its famed red velvet cupcakes, Sift's Graham street outlet serves only desserts. I ordered the maple and mascarpone cheesecake which looked pretty on the plate and tasted just as good. Ending the adventure in sweet perfection, dinner and dessert were a big thumbs up.

BT MORE RECOMMENDS
Cuttlefish in chilli oil
Dry prawn with chilli powder

Meal for two: Rs 3,000 (including taxes, without alcohol)
For reservations:  (+852) 2893 3330

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