Authentic Hunan is very hard to come by on this continent. Many restaurants that purport to serve Hunan cuisine in the States actually serve Westernized Chinese food of dubious pedigree.... not many serve the real deal.
Hunan is known to be the "hottest" of the Chinese cuisines...hotter than Sichuan from all accounts due the the liberal use of chili pepper. Hunan is often compared to Sichuan cuisine because of certain culinary similarities and its liberal use of chiles - a big difference is the liberal use of Sichuan peppercorn in Sichuan cuisine which gives it a numbing citrusy note.
Hunan cuisine is typically vinegary, garlicky, onion-y, chili-hot, and deep in colour through braises and similar techniques. The cuisine often utilizes smoked and cured meats and vegetables which imparts a very rustic quality.
The Xiang Cuisine is probably the last remaining authentic Hunan restaurant in the Greater Vancouver Area. (I was saddened to find out recently that Hu Hu Nan on Main St had closed its doors.) Here you will get an uncompromising menu. All the dishes are true Hunan fare. (The restaurant does serve a couple of bread-and-butter Cantonese dishes in its lunch specials.)
Today, I dined alone, so I only had the Braised Pork and the Seaweed appetizer and a bowl of rice. Great stuff.
4850 Imperial St, Burnaby, BC V5J, CA