In a quiet and peaceful street just a few steps from Corso Como there is a restaurant that bears the name of Il gusto della nebbia and allows you to make a gastronomic journey in the world’s largest metropolis-city, Chongqing.
Il gusto della nebbia opened its doors about two years ago. The owner is called Wu Jun Xin (aka Lampo) and he arrived in Milan in 2004. Originally from Chongqing, he is also the chef of the restaurant, totally self-taught. With his shy and highly artistic personality, he was able to bring the complexity of the taste of his homeland to the city of Milan. Chongqing is not simply the city with the most inhabitants in the world, it is located in the Sichuan region, famous for its spicy preparations. The cuisine of this mega metropolis is incredibly diverse (it boasts about 4,000 dishes prepared in different ways) and over the years has evolved incredibly: it is in fact called “a hundred dishes, a hundred flavors”. And one of the key ingredient is certainly pepper, a spice that brings with it an incredible sensorial baggage. It is a complex taste, which does not only concern the sensation of fire that is felt in the mouth, but also the perception of the numbness of the tongue, mixed with all the other ingredients that complete the dish. Chef Lampo gives a very accurate personal interpretation of this complex world of sensations and the result is a superlative set of nuances of taste. In Milan, therefore, we experience the “city of fog”, as it was renamed due to the condensation of humidity that forms due to the subtropical climate. And the same fog is reproduced inside the restaurant physically through a nebulous installation just above the ceiling. Therefore, the artistry does not reside only in the dishes, on the walls of the room hang numerous photographs made by the chef. A silent figure who directs the kitchen but also comes out into the room, wanders between the tables and lastly preparations under the eyes of customers stirring boiling bowls and serving for the moment.
The principles of the taste of chef Lampo’s kitchen are six: Ma (numbness), La (spicy), Xian (savory), Xiang (fragrant), Su (crunchy outside, tender inside), Tang (boiling). These peculiarities are all included in the menu, brief and concise. Chili is the undisputed protagonist (dried, fresh or in oil): chef Lampo imports it from Sichuan and includes it in his preparations with different degrees of intensity. It starts with a series of cold-served appetizers (sautéed chicken nuggets, boiled beef tripe with sesame sauce, quail eggs with a secret sauce based on chilli oil, rabbit morsels sautéed with dried chili, frayed chicken breast with spicy sauce based on chilli oil, frayed chicken breast with white sauerkraut, boiled potatoes with sesame sauce, pieces of dry tofu with chilli oil, cucumber salad with garlic and ginger, seasoned centenarian egg) or warm (morsels of fried pork with sesame sauce, chunks of chicken marinated in beer and fried accompanied by sesame sauce, salt and chilli, chicken feet braised with chilli pepper). There are also bao, Chinese steamed buns with various accompanying ingredients: fried pork chops with sesame sauce, frayed chicken breast with white sauerkraut, beef tripe with sesame sauce, chicken nuggets marinated in beer and fried. An excellent idea, in my opinion, is to choose menus A and B: it is a double micro-tasting of appetizers. A path, perfect for a single person, is equivalent to four appetizers. Later, we move on to the main dish of the restaurant; the noodles. Here prepared with wheat flour without eggs, they are delicious to say the least and are served both in broth and dry and the gradation of spicy is at the discretion of the customer. Try the most typical and authentic ones: noodles with yellow peas and pork belly ragout. The other noodles present are those served in broth of chicken, beef and sixteen spices, in sweet sauce, in verse Ybinese sauce made with Ya cai in brine (or the stems of a mustard plant quality), with chicken breast frayed, with chicken offal sautéed in a pan, spicy in broth with chunks of chicken, in broth with beef tendon stew, in broth with beef stew, spicy with sautéed chicken nuggets and scrambled eggs. Recently added, wonton stuffed with shrimp and pork either in broth or dry with the chef’s sauce. As recommended by the staff, it is good to request the addition of an egg to the eye to make the dish even tastier. However, the menu also includes rice noodles: with beef stew or chilli chicken nuggets. The rice-based courses are served in a bowl: Australian beef ragout with chives, coriander and fresh red pepper, with sautéed spicy chicken and spicy chicken offal. Finally, there is the chef’s specialty for the more adventurous, Vulcano: tofu with beef ragout served hot with chilli and pepper from Chongqing. Desserts include refreshing jelly, a tremella-based soup, lotus seeds and goji berries, rice dumplings with sugar cane sauce. The beverage card includes soft drinks, Chinese or Italian beer, coconut milk, mango juice and Chinese herbal tea.