Dish

Hot Hot eats

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For fans of tasty Chinese food, the name “Chili Hot Hot” bears repeating

Located on the corner of Jasper Ave and 109 St, Chili Hot Hot is one of the
most prominent undiscovered treasures in Edmonton. Unlike those flashier
Chinese places, you won’t find any jade dragon sculptures, intricate
wood screens or gold leaf paintings. The eating area feels like a conference
room, well-lit and inexpensively reclaimed with paint; the furniture is
“early ’80s Chinese restaurant” to the point of
cliché, complete with burgundy vinyl tablecloths, cushioned chairs
with gold accents and terrible carpet. But what Chili Hot Hot lacks in decor
they more than make up for in great food. The menu is approachable and seems
fairly standard, with a list of items like “shrimp and chicken in
nest” and “beef in black bean sauce” that goes on for
pages. The prices fall on either side of $10, depending on how much meat is
involved. As I skim the menu, I find a few pages full of Asian characters
with prices scattered randomly. Daunted, I skip to the back of the menu to
check out the combos. My wife and I decide on the Shangri-La combo for two,
which at $14 per person is the most expensive of their set meal options and
includes soup and spring rolls to start and five entrées. The hot and
sour soup arrives almost immediately and is a delight: the spicy broth has
become a stew of tofu, carrots, sprouts, green onion, peas and various
unidentifiable bits. Halfway through, the spring rolls arrive and my
wife’s eyes light up: “Spring rolls are my favourite!”
We’re even more impressed when we bite in. Light, crunchy and piping
hot, these rolls are incredible; the only disappointment is that there are
only two of them. The five main courses hit the table at the same time. I
scoop us some tasty and filling chicken fried rice as a base and my wife digs
into the shrimp with mixed greens. She counts seven huge shrimp, the pea pods
are crispy and the bok choi is not. A couple of bites in, she informs me that
this is officially her new favourite dish. I help myself to the ginger hot
beef and chicken with lemon sauce. As someone used to the gooey, coated
ginger beef of mall food courts, this platter of tender beef and julienned
vegetables in a light ginger sauce simply dazzles me (although I’m not
sure what exactly the “hot” in the dish’s name refers to).
The chicken has a light, crispy batter and the sauce is absolutely out of
this world, but unfortunately the chicken itself is a little too chewy for
our tastes. My biggest surprise is the honey garlic ribs. Expecting them to
be the standard kind of dry ribs you can pick up anywhere, I’m
surprised to bite into a warm, moist, largely boneless treat drizzled with
honey. My wife isn’t crazy about honey, so I have a hedonistic time
with these succulent bits of heaven. Green tea, frequently topped up by the
restaurant’s polite, unobtrusive and sometimes less-than-comprehensible
waitstaff, complements the entire meal. The language barrier became a factor
when we asked to see the dessert menu and were told about a mango pudding and
something involving coconut. Thinking they were one and the same, we ordered
one to split. $2.50 bought us a bowl full of paradise: thick pudding with
chunks of mango topped with heavy cream. The taste was fresh, clean and a
terrific pick-me-up after the intense flavours of the meal. Overall, the
value can’t be beat: for less than $40 we had a great, filling meal and
were leaving with enough for lunches or a midnight meal for two. Chili Hot
Hot offers free delivery within five miles and a lunch buffet I’ll
definitely try anytime I’m downtown at noon. Drop off your leftovers in
the car and you’re ready for your evening to begin in the heart of
downtown. V Chili Hot Hot 10909 Jasper Avenue • 428-3336

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