Alvin Garden on

It’s been an amazing week for Chinese cuisine in the GVRD. The Critic’s Choices were finally revealed for this year’s Chinese Restaurant Awards, and the first of Chowtimes’ “Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine” dinners took place at Alvin Garden, featuring the food of Hunan.

As full disclosure, yours truly was part of the organizing team behind the latter. There’s a good synopsis by local legend “Fmed” on the regional fare over at Chowtimes, so I’ll spare you the details here and defer to his expert opinion. Instead,
I’ll draw your attention to what he starts with: if there’s any one
ingredient that characterizes Hunan cuisine, it’s the chili pepper.

Of the double-digit dishes Alvin Garden dished out that night, all but two or three featured chili peppers in some form. This isn’t food for the faint of heart, and certainly what those travel sized rolls of Tums will come in handy for. Instead
of relying on numbing Sichuan peppercorns, this fare features
fire-breathing heat balanced against sweet, sour and savoury
counterpoints, making it an interest array of contrasts.