Chuan Ban

Sichuan in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Every Chinese province has its own government office in Beijing, usually furnished with a hotel and restaurant for visiting cadres. With some exceptions, these tend to offer the most authentic regional eats in the capital. Chuan Ban is attached to the Sichuan provincial office here, serving up an encyclopedic spice-fest of delicacies guaranteed to delight acolytes of the mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn.

The main dining area is drab, which only makes the lava-red dishes appear even more potent! Stews of fish, chicken, rabbit and frog are buried beneath mounds of Sichuan peppercorns both dried (red) and fresh (green); the 'mouth-watering chicken' (口水鸡; kǒushuǐ jī), a cold-appetiser of poached chicken in a spicy broth, gets rave reviews. Another mainstay is làzǐ zǐjī (l辣子仔鸡), stir-fried chicken amid a fragrant heap of dried chillies (which you're not supposed to eat).

There's no English sign to the restaurant; it’s housed in a tall building with the entrance through an arched driveway. Beware a pretender to the north called 'Chuan Bai Wei'.