|Sichuan Home's spicy tea-smoked duck.|
As vibrant as the regional cuisines of China are, you wouldn't always know it in America, where Western bistros are encouraged to play and experiment, but chefs at "ethnic" restaurants are often tied to a roster of the classics.
Well, not Sichuan Home, the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review
. Here you get a sense of the innovation happening in Chengdu, the culinary capital of Sichuan Province, and of chef Liu Hong's imagination. Tea-smoked duck is stir-fried with peppers and garlic. Lotus root slices are pressed together with ground pork and deep-fried. Fish stew comes with yam cake and seaweed.
At the moment, the chef seems to be sorting out the execution of his new creations, which don't always work. The best things on the menu are the cold appetizers -- the couple's delight (brisket and tripe dressed with hot chile oil, peanuts, and cilantro) is marvelous -- and the braised fish dishes. But it'll be interesting to see how Sichuan Home's most innovative dishes develop as the chef finds his voice.
5037 Geary, San Francisco, CA