Bristol’s Chilli Daddy is a real local success story. Finalists in the street food category of the 2014 BBC Food and Farming Awards, these vendors of Szechuan cuisine began as a street food stall at the Wine Street market, and have expanded at a rapid rate: they now have bricks-and-mortar restaurants on Perry Road, Baldwin Street and Queens Road.
The Baldwin Street branch of Dr Weng’s Szechuan restaurant always seems to enjoy a brisk trade, and with the pricing and quality of its offerings, it’s easy to see why.
Open from 12-3pm and 5-8pm Monday to Thursday, 5-9pm on Friday and 12-9pm on Sunday, the menu features a range of rice and noodle dishes that are all competitively priced at £6 and under, as well as a small selection of appetisers and a range of both Western and Chinese soft drinks. While Szechuan cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavours, diners can actually choose from a 0-5 scale of spiciness to suit their palate.
While many order their lunch to takeaway, I chose to eat in (at an additional cost of 50p), being given a numbered ticket on paying for my meal and sitting down to wait for my number to be called. The restaurant features two dining rooms, their green walls and red tables synonymous with Chilli Daddy’s branding, and the restaurant layout encouraging strangers to sit alongside one another to enjoy their meal. Taking a seat in the left hand dining room means that you can watch orders being prepared in the fully open plan kitchen behind the serving counter, before collecting your meal and your cutlery when your number is called.
My mouth-watering chicken rice meal (£5.50) was recommended to me when I ordered, and I was told that it’s one of their most popular dishes. Apparently, the name of this popular Szechuan dish literally translates to “saliva chicken” – I think mouth-watering is probably a better phrasing for the Chilli Daddy menu…
Served with a huge bowl of rice, a salty tofu soup and a fiery cold beansprout salad, this chicken dish is cooked to a secret recipe that involves poaching the chicken before cooling, then steeping in oil flavoured with ginger, garlic, spring onion and other ingredients.
To eat, simply retrieve the cold chicken pieces (plus peanuts and sticks of raw carrot) from the oil, and transfer to the rice bowl, where the two can be eaten together. The chicken itself was incredibly tender and I enjoyed the use of dark meat, while the level of heat was just right for my palate. The crunch of the peanuts added extra texture, and the delicate flavours of the spices really shone through. That bowl of rice, though, was far too sizeable for a midweek lunch…
If you’ve not yet been to Chilli Daddy, then go – the food is ridiculously good value for money, the flavours are pronounced and the speed at which food is prepared makes it ideal for a midweek lunch break from work. It’s clear to see why trade is booming for Chilli Daddy – long may their success continue!