Chungking (Chongqing) Spicy Chicken ($15)
Extraordinarily aromatic with plenty of roasted chilis, sichuan pepper, fat slices of ginger, and sesame seeds, the dry-fried chicken is executed nearly perfectly. That is, crisp and dry on the outside without an excess of batter or starchiness with a juicy interior that pops when you bite into the tiny nuggets. One of the best versions we've ever had.
Dan Dan Noodles ($6)
On our visit, the noodles arrived ever so slightly overcooked, but not unforgivably so, especially considering how good their roasted chili vinaigrette is.
Savory Tofu with Celery Shoots ($7)
Intensely smoky tofu that might be overwhelmingly so for some, but sliced up with celery, it's a nice cool contrast to many of the other cold appetizers which tend towards the fiery.
Bang Bang Chicken ($9)
An intense sesame flavor dominates the cold slices of super-moist chicken, which despite being described on the menu as "spicy," was very mild compared to some other appetizers.
Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil ($6)
What is it with Sichuan dumplings in New York being candy-like in their sweetness? Has anyone else noticed this trend? As with the other dishes, the chili vinaigrette here is tasty, but we could do without the excess sugar in the filling.
Japanese Butter Squash with Ginger ($12)
Tender and sweet nuggets of squash with a buttery smooth, creamy texture bound in a velvety sauce flavored with ginger and scallions make a great winter warmer.
Duck Tongue with Peppercorn ($10)
The predominant flavor was actually more like scallion oil rather than peppercorn, which was fine by us. Duck tongues can verge on rubbery, but these were perfectly moist and tender.
Tea Smoked Duck ($19)
It boasts plenty of smoky flavor and faultlessly moist and salty flesh, but duck can only be so good with un-rendered, rubbery skin.
Double Cooked Pork ($15)
Slices of smoked tofu make an interesting addition to this dish of simmered-then-stir fried pork belly with spicy long green pepper, but it's no substitute for real wok hei. The smokiness imparted by a hot, carbon steel wok was missing from this otherwise excellent dish.
Ma Po Tofu ($11)
Less than perfect due to tofu that was just too firm. Plenty of chili oil and Sichuan peppercorn are a step in the right direction, but without enough rich, fermented broad bean and minced beef flavor, the sauce remains one-dimensional.