Festive Kitchen has mostly good reviews on Urban Spoon- I like it a lot. I noticed a few negative comments regarding the service, however from both my visits, I found the staff to be very friendly and efficient. As well as this beef dish, I can recommend the soft shell crab, which comes crispy and with an incredibly liberal sprinkling of garlic, chilli and spring onion, and the deep-fried pork leg, which has a gloriously gelatinous half meat half fat quality.
The restaurant itself is a little more expensive than the noodle bars that Festive Kitchen neighbours, but for a treat it's worth a visit.
I found a recipe that looked similar to the dish we had eaten on the blog Yi Reservation. Despite a plethora of Chinese supermarkets nearby, I couldn't find anything labelled Sichuan Chilli Bean Paste, but I did find Sichuan Chilli Bean Sauce (Lee Kum Kee brand), so I bought this and hoped for the best. I also added a little extra than suggested on Yi Reservation, as sauce suggests more dilution than paste. I also left out the radish/potatoes, as the version I had at Festive Kitchen was starchless.
I don't own a wok, and because I am leaving the country in 6 weeks, do not want to buy any kitchen equipment. So instead of frying the flavourings and meat in a wok and then transferring to a casserole, I did all the cooking in the casserole. I have written the recipe out using this method, but for the original way, see the link to Yi Reservation above.
I was very pleased with the result- when I make it next time (and there will be a next time), I will probably add a few extra dried chillies. I stirred in a little extra chilli bean sauce mid cooking to heat it up, but it is also quite salty so I think extra chilli from the start would have been a better solution.
1-1.5kg beef- something suitable for casseroling
2 tbsp groundnut, vegetable or sunflower oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
2 inch ginger
2 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste/cauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 small rock sugar, or brown sugar
4 tbsp Chinese cooking wine.
1 lite water or beef stock
4 star anise
6 dried chillies
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 piece dried orange peel
4 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods
Chopped spring onion, to serve
Cut the beef into 2-3cm chunks. Blanch in boiling water, and then refresh in cold water. Drain and set aside.
Heat the oil in a casserole, and gently fry the garlic, ginger and chilli bean sauce for about 3 minutes over a low heat. Add the beef to to casserole, and stir to coat in the sauce. Add the soy sauce, sugar and wine, and cook for another two minutes. Add the spices and stock. Bring the pan to a simmer, and then turn the heat down to low, and cook until the beef is tender (1-2 hours).
Sprinkle over the chopped spring onion before serving with rice.
If you have leftovers, you can also turn it into spicy beef noodle soup, simply by adding some freshly cooked noodles to the broth.