What’s in a name? In particular Red n’ Hot, what kind of establishment does it sound like? As you’re reading a food blog you’ll guess it’s some kind of restaurant but in other circumstances you might say it’s a soft-core porn collection from the days of VHS. Something a bit niche. In some ways it might as well be for all the mainstream attention it gets but it must be doing something right sitting in it’s prime Hurst St location next to the the Hippodrome. It’s actually a chain of Sichuan restaurants, the other branches in London and Manchester. With the recent demise of BBQ village it’s become my go to for that spicy branch of Chinese cuisine. It’s pure Sichuan too, no pandering to Cantonese, Shanghainese or Beijing tastes.
Neither seemingly does it pander to Western tastes, the dark frontage looks brooding and the dark beaded blinds prevents passersby from peeking in. If you do get through the door the first thing you see is a little office space, cus that’s what it is, a Chinese travel agency. Look beyond this bit and you get the restaurant, all bare black surfaces. The tables have hotpot functionality but I’ve never had that there, always going for the plated dishes from the phonebook sized menu with its 100+ items. The old menu was a little more concise with photos of every dish listed but this one only illustrates the highlights. The dishes are listed in English but the components are in Chinese, so cryptic names like Husband and Wife Slices can be a little hard to decipher (cold sliced beef tripe and pork tongue). But be brave, order a lot and ask for it spicy because these are flavours you should fully commit to.
Rumour has it that the chef from BBQ Village relocated here and there is evidence in the Dry Fried Chicken with Chillies 辣子雞丁. The outrageous amount of chillies used in the dish is a hallmark. But then the Sliced Pork in Chilli 水煮肉片 is a little underpowered, it should be face-melting but wasn’t. It’s still delicious but when the waitress issues a warning when you order and it doesn’t deliver on maximum numbing 麻 and hot 辣 then you have to be a little disappointed. Nonetheless the flavours of the Sizzling Cumin Lamb 孜然羊肉 and Gong Bao King Prawn 宫保虾球 are excellent and worth going for on their own. Indeed I think dishes taste a lot cleaner than they did at BBQ Village so maybe the chef has cleaned up his act, literally, as the restaurant displays it’s 5/5 hygiene rating proudly. Some say it takes away something from the food, but in these more enlightened times maybe a little less MSG and sizzling oil is actually a good thing.
Red n’ Hot
Tel: 0121 6666076
35 Hurst Street, Birmingham B5 4BJ