Beef and Ox Tripe in Chili Sauce ($7.95)
A strong start to the meal with a generous pile of not-too-tripey tripe and plenty of chili heat paired with a sprinkle of Sichuan peppercorns that delivers the one-two ma-la punch—the signature numbing-hot flavor so prevalent in Sichuan cuisine. The tripe doesn't quite achieve the transcendent crunch-chew of the very best examples, but it's close.
Dan Dan Noodles Cheng-Du Style ($5.50)
Tender, stretchy noodles with grainy clusters of minced pork and preserved mustard root, it's served with a relatively light hand on the chili oil, but with nicely balanced flavors.
Pork Wonton in Red Sesame Oil ($5.95)
There's plenty of chili heat (though we would have preferred a deeper roasted aroma to the chili oil), but the wontons themselves are cloyingly sweet.
Famous Sichuan Pickled Vegetables ($5.95)
Pungent and hot with a salty bite and funky sulphurous aroma, these pickled radish chunks make a great crisp accompaniment to some of the other, slipperier appetizers.
Steamed Chicken with Chili Sauce ($9.95)
One of our favorites. Cold slices of moist steamed chicken in a punchy roasted chili and black vinegar vinaigrette sprinkled with toasted peanuts, cilantro, and raw garlic.
Tears in Eyes ($6.95)
Slippery chunks of tofu-like bean cake are sauced with a roasted chili and black fermented soy bean sauce with a sprinkling of vinegary pickled red chili peppers. I love the way the sauce slicks the semi-crunchy cubes of liang fen. It's not as spicy as the name will have you believe, but packed with flavor. (Full review here).
Sichuan Cucumber ($5.95)
Like a beacon of cool, refreshing crunch in a sea of chili heat, these well-salted cucumbers come with a thin sheen of scallion-scented oil.
Dry Sauteed String Beans with Olive Leaves Paste ($9.95)
Perfectly blistered green beans with a slight bite in the center are coated in a mild sauce of minced pork and pungent olive leaves. It's an interesting if subtle variation on the version we're used to.
Sichuan Spicy Cellophane Noodle ($10.95)
Be careful not to burn your mouth on their excellent version of the Sichuan classic "ants climbing a tree" with bits of minced pork clinging to stretchy bean-thread noodles softened in a chili and vinegar-based sauce.
Sautéed Homemade Bacon ($13.95)
Homemade bacon sounds so much better on the menu than in chewy reality, but plenty of smoky, flavorful leeks are worth picking through.
Sichuan Spicy Ma Po Tofu ($10.95)
Black soy beans are an interesting substitute for fermented broad beans in this very decent interpretation of Ma Po Tofu. Purists will lament the overuse of cornstarch in the thick sauce and lack of chili oil on the surface, but there's no faulting its incendiary heat and perfectly texture silken tofu.
Fried Lamb With Cumin ($15.95)
Deep fried until crisp and tossed with a ton of cumin and Chinese celery, it has a deeply pungent aroma, but is decidedly lacking in basic seasoning. Pass the salt please!
Braised Beef Casserole with Radish ($13.95)
The Chinese version of beef stew which pairs slightly gelatinous chunks of beef with meltingly tender radishes that have soaked up a not insignificant amount of the rich, flavorful gravy.
Slice Pork with Rice Crust ($15.95)
Crackly puffed fried rice cakes arrive at the table with a snap, crackle, and pop as they slowly absorb the juices from a bright stir fry of pork, bell peppers, shiitake, and wood ear mushrooms. It's best to eat this when it first arrives before the sweet, vinegary sauce has a chance to fully soften the crisp rice.
Chongqing Diced Chicken with Chili Pepper ($16.95)
Despite a mountain of roasted chili peppers, the dish is not as spicy as it looks! Rather than splitting them to release their fiery innards, red chilis are left intact to impart just their toasty aroma to crisp-bordering-on-dry chunks of deep fried marinated chicken sprinkled with a healthy dose of mouth-numbing Sichuan peppercorn.
Crispy Prawns with Aromatic Pepper Salt ($17.95)
Ask for these guys in the shell and eat them shell and all to get the most of the textural contrast between crisp outer shell and juicy body. Though they look like they're going to pack quite a hot punch, the flavor is actually quite mild.
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce ($9.95)
One of our favorite dishes of the meal. The eggplant comes crusted in a paper-thin cornstarch slurry that's fried into a perfectly crisp, crackly crust that stays cruncy even when tossed with their mildly garlicky chili sauce.