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Sichuan "Ma La" restaurants in bay area?

Offal Lover Jul 29, 2006 01:32 AM

Aside from Spices, China Village and South Legend (recently reviewed), are there any other bay area restaurants that specialize in food from this region which is spicy from chili oil and sichuan peppercorns?

  1. j
    Joel Jul 31, 2006 12:10 AM

    I will second Yimster's recommendation of Z&Y on Jackson Street in SF, between Grant and Kearny, next door to Great Eastern.
    I don't know if "ma la" is part of Yunnan cuisine, but apparently the checf is from Sichuan.
    Several of the appetizers are blazing with Sichuan pepper and will numb your mouth all the way to your brain. They are identified on the menu as "numbing-spicy."
    Here's a link to a recent dinner:


    1. s
      spork Jul 29, 2006 08:32 AM

      Old Mandarin Islamic... they do a mean "Ma La" hot pot if you ask them to make the hot pot soup spicy. its goes great with the lamb they have amonst other things you cook in the pot (fish, shrimp, tofu.. etc)

      be careful though, if you ask for it hot and "ma la", you might end up not being able to taste anything at all. i mean, it'll numb the snot out of you.

      2 Replies
      1. re: spork
        Robert Lauriston Jul 30, 2006 03:55 PM

        Is the ma la option listed in the Chinese version of the hot pot menu?

        1. re: Robert Lauriston
          spork Jul 31, 2006 12:25 AM

          actually, i dont know. i went with some people who know the owners and they (the rest.) asked how spicy we wanted the broth. and we said very.

          but i dont think its a special order or anything. you have to just ask, maybe?

      2. t
        theSauce Jul 29, 2006 06:41 AM

        Su Gia (Da Sichuan - big Sichuan) in Newark off of Decoto Road.

        Great Sichuan style foil wrapped crab and excellent mala dishes.

        1. wchane Jul 29, 2006 03:31 AM

          if you're in cupertino there's one on the corner of blaney ave. and stevens creek.

          it's not sichaun specific but i prefer lucy's cafe up on stevens creek, across from the post office.

          www.lucysmandarincusine.com i believe is the website, you can google 'lucy's cafe' and 'cupertino, ca'

          1. p
            petereats Jul 29, 2006 02:22 AM

            Recently ate at South Legend and was seriously disappointed. Ordered cold sichuan noodles hoping for the kind of wonderfully hot, tongue-numbing ma la action had previously at Little Sichuan and received some peanut/sesame covered stuff found at most Cantonese/Americanized chinese spots.

            Of all the dishes I tried at South Legend (sichuan cold noodles, ma po tofu, and a braised vegetable dish), there was no sichuan peppercorn to be found, at all.

            Go with Little Sichuan.

            5 Replies
            1. re: petereats
              PekoePeony Jul 29, 2006 06:26 AM

              I just ate dinner at Little Sichuan in San Mateo with three friends a couple nights ago. The food quality seems to have gone down slightly, but it's still decent. However in all my years of going to Little Sichuan I don't think I've ever seen them serve Sichuan peppercorns there, though they use plenty of dried chilis and chili oil.

              1. re: PekoePeony
                petereats Jul 29, 2006 07:10 PM

                What do you mean you've never seen them "serve" Sichuan peppercorns? It's not a condiment; it is used in the cooking to achieve that elusive tungue-numbing, somewhat lemony spice... it was used more liberally at Little Sichuan than at any other Sichuan restaurant I've dined at so far in the US.

                1. re: petereats
                  PekoePeony Jul 30, 2006 01:41 AM

                  I'm familiar with Sichuan peppercorns since I cook with them often (a co-worker brings me some back whenever she visits her family in Chengdu) :) None of the dishes that I know of have any in them (at least in the San Mateo branch of Little Sichuan), and I've tried quite a few of the dishes there -- they're spicy but not numbing. Spices! in SF is quite liberal with them, I wish Little Sichuan would use some also.

                  1. re: PekoePeony
                    petereats Jul 30, 2006 10:05 AM

                    I don't doubt you know your sichuan peppercorns (that's great about your Chengdu source :), but I've definitely identified them in a number of Little Sichuan's dishes... how many times have you eaten there?

                2. re: PekoePeony
                  benma Jun 23, 2007 10:23 AM

                  I can confirm that Little Sichuan does indeed serve sichuan peppercorns (called "hua jiao" in chinese, and the source of a numbing flavor called "ma la").

                  The food was good (not great), although I was there with another white friend -- I get the feeling if we had been chinese, we would have gotten considerably better food. Maybe I'm being paranoid, but it felt like that kind of place.

                  We ordered the Xinjiang Lamb, Dry Cooked String Beans, Dan Dan noodles and some dumplings in hot oil. The Lamb stood out as excellent, and for the others... the flavors were all right, but the texture of the dishes was sloppy. I think the chef has was it takes to do better.

              2. o
                Offal Lover Jul 29, 2006 02:10 AM

                Do they have similar dishes to what you had at South Legend? Is it easy enough for a non-Chinese person, which I am, to order these dishes of the menu?

                I can't wait to try dishes like the Twice Cooked Bacon with Crispy Bread, Couple Beef and Sliced Kindey in Pepper Sauce.

                Little Sichuan and 5A'z is close to where I work. I'll give those a try and report back with pics. Thank you.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Offal Lover
                  yimster Jul 29, 2006 02:41 AM

                  I am sorry to say no, English name do not match with Chinese names. Example is Couples Beef, we have seen it called Husband and Wife and other which I can remember.

                  Twice Cooked Bacon wiht Crispy Bread I have had in someone home before only and I had read and talked about.

                  The sliced kidney is easy to find but I really liked the verison at South Legned with a green chili/pesto sauce.

                  5A's has some grest dumplongs. It is visited by more than a few hounds at lunch. Some of them can read Chinese too.

                2. yimster Jul 29, 2006 01:58 AM

                  In San Francisco on Jackson Street there is Y&Z.

                  In Redwood City on El Camino Real there is Sichuan Delight

                  In Burlingame on El Camino Real there is 5A'z

                  in Cupertino there is House of Sichuan on Blaney I think.

                  Have try all four and I would go back there are many more but I have not try them.

                  Good hunting.

                  1. v
                    vliang Jul 29, 2006 01:36 AM

                    Little Sichuan in San Mateo and Little Sichuan Express in Fremont

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: vliang
                      Offal Lover Jul 29, 2006 06:47 AM

                      I've been there but don't recall seeing anything on the menu that's specifically sichuan. Can you help me order the food i'm looking for?

                      1. re: Offal Lover
                        PekoePeony Jul 30, 2006 01:49 AM

                        In the San Mateo branch there's a whole page on the menu of "Sichuan Specialties" that's pretty reliable:


                        I like the pickle fish soup, the spicy cold noodles, and the dong poa side pork.

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