The Rug in Beijing, my go-to for mapo tofu pizza, mapo tofu pasta and mapo tofu nachos, has just extended its spicy / beany Sichuan theme to… sorbet?
I am a mapo tofu fan, of those firm silky tofu cubes in an slightly oily sauce laced with chilis and Sichuan peppercorns that numb the lips, an umami-loaded medley of textures and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed The Rug’s twists on this dish.
But sorbet with shallot sauce and icing crackers? It’s part of the new winter brunch menu launched last week and that marks ten years of The Rug in Beijing.
The sorbet itself is salty, beany and cool, then delivers a slow approaching freight train of Sichuan peppercorn heat—with about 100 cars trailing behind, so expect that tingle to endure. (You get a touch of numbness on both ends, first from the cold sorbet and then from that peppercorn heat.)
The shallot sauce has a roasted character, plus additional saltiness, that fits with the sorbet.
And the icing sugar biscuit on each side, well, I think many people will find these offset the salty and spicy character of the sorbet and sauce. But I preferred getting that effect from the slightly sweet and voluptuous Guanyun baijiu, which is available at 42% and 52% alcohol.
With this dessert available, you could put a Mapo ToFusion menu together for two to four people.
Start with mapo tofu nachos to share. Then do half-portions of mapo tofu pasta and split a mapo tofu pizza as mains—the especially hungry diners can tack on the new truffled wedge fries since the pasta dish also carries that earthy flavor. Then have the mapo sorbet for dessert.
The common flavors running through the meal would make pairing with a wine or two much easier. Or pair one of The Rug’s craft beer or cider options with the appetizer, a bottle of wine with the mains and the baijiu with the dessert.
Lots of possibilities for mapo tofu fans! And if you get a decent-sized group together, say eight to twelve people, enjoy it in that private room in the far back corner on the second floor. Let’s just call it the MTF (Mapo ToFusion) Room.
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