After making Milan fall in love with Mao Hunan, Maoji, Mini Maoji and Mood Market (my favorite Asian grocery in the city), the owners of these successful places have recently opened a new restaurant in the China Town area called Chifa.
The fourth restaurant of the Mao group moves away from Hunan (while retaining some spicy Sichuan dishes) to discover the cuisine of Yunnan, a region of southwestern China characterized by a unique and complex gastronomic culture. This region is in fact famous for the famous Pu'er tea, Xuanwei dry cured ham and, above all, for cheeses of animal origin (particularly very interesting since in Asia the cheese is practically only based on soy, tofu ) such as rubing (from goat) and rushan (from cow).
The best known dish of this area is perhaps guo qian mi xian, "crossing the bridge noodles", an iconic dish proposed by Chifa. According to legend, it was conceived by the wife of an imperial official who retired to an island to study. With the aim of bringing him the noodles every day still hot, the woman invented this dish by bringing the hot broth separate from the other ingredients, so that her husband could then insert them at the moment in the soup. The name derives precisely from the trips that the woman made to reach her husband.
The hot, delicate and aromatic broth is made from chicken and pork bones, cooked for twenty-four hours. Aside you will be served the ingredients to be inserted, arranged inside small wooden boxes (everything is exquisitely scenic and very funny): smoked meat and raw meat, fresh vegetables, eggs and rice noodles. This is a very filling dish, so I recommend ordering one if you are a couple and sharing it.
The rest of the menu is very extensive and consists of a series of unusual dishes, many of which I had not tried before such as the three-flavored rice (sautéed with eggs, dried meat and spring onion - very particular), the baked pumpkin (very sweet) and braised bacon with pickled vegetables. The other dishes I had the opportunity to try are shrimp and cuttlefish dumplings (with the consistency of steamed mini bao), the unmissable Chinese calzone stuffed with chives and eggs, tomato soup with shrimp balls and noodles, tofu pudding with cheese, braised pork meatballs and the delicious pak choi sautéed with mushrooms.
If you are used to frequent the restaurants of the Mao group, I am sure you will expect strong tastes: you will be amazed by the delicacy of these preparations, many of which are decidedly sweet instead of spicy.
All dishes are generally quite generous, perfect for sharing.
Surely it is a restaurant in the process of being run in, despite this the girls in the dining room are very kind and even if you do not know the Chinese language they will show you the menu in the best possible way. The place is cozy but small, so book early - if you want to try the "crossing the bridge noodles" order them a day in advance as they run out early!
The final bill is in line with the other restaurants in the group, so honest.