Tacoma Szechuan (Tacoma/Lakewood)
A strip mall at 96th and South Tacoma Way houses one of the best Szechuan Chinese restaurants I've tried in the Sea-Tac area. The menu contains well over 100 items. We tried the dry fried green beans (excellent), mongolian beef, a fish dish, and a couple hotpots. All of it was excellent. Well worth the stop if you are in the area.
9601 South Tacoma Way, No. 102, Lakewood; 253-581-0102
It is pretty far down S. Tacoma Way towards Lakewood. I took the I-5/512 exit at what is basically Lakewood and headed north on S. Tacoma Way about 1.5 miles (real rough estimate). It is located in a Korean grocery/strip mall on the east side of the road.
Recently I lunched at Tacoma Szechuan / Three Sisters with two other people and had some of my usual favorites plus savory Deep Fried Fish with Green Beans Szechuan Style and meltingly tender Eggplant in Hot Garlic Sauce. Tonight I’m going back for Chinese New Year and will be ordering the Family Hot Pot, which will be perfect for a cold winter evening with family and friends.
Someday I hope to be brave enough to order Kidney with Picked Pepper Sauce, Hot Pepper Intestine, Dry Cooked Spicy Intestine, or House Special Intestine & Beef Strip. It’s hard not to re-order favorites when contemplating such challenging (for Westerners anyway) ingredients.
To help inspire me to be adventurous, I’ve been reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s excellent cookbooks and memoirs and highly recommend them to anyone wanting to learn more about this cuisine and also to any who are ambitious enough to recreate these truly delicious dishes at home.
I agree that it is well worth a visit. I can’t figure out why more people don’t know about this place, it really is a treasure.
I love this place! Tacoma Szechuan is my new favorite restaurant in the Tacoma area. The décor is pretty and quirky (check out the sink in the ladies’ room and the glittery rocks), the service is charming, and the food seems authentic as well as yummy.
Some really good things I’ve tried so far: A surprisingly delicious Kung Pao Chicken, meltingly tender Mongolian Beef, Ma Po Tofu, Smoking Pork with Garlic Leaf (a dish that reminds me of bacon with leeks), Seafood and Gravy Over Hand Shaven Noodles (more of a soup than what I expected from the name but still tasty), Szechuan Jelly Noodles (like longish blocks of jelly rather than noodles – topped with an incredible sauce), the impressive looking Yu Yeng Hot Pot (a ying yang shaped bubbling pot filled with one side of a mild soup stock, the other hot and spicy, into which you dip various morsels of meats, veggies, tofu, and noodles), and some of the more generic Chinese restaurant kinds of dishes, which they also do well.
Watch out for the little balls of Szechuan peppers in the spicy dishes until you know you can handle them (I usually just push them to the side of my plate along with the dried chilies you aren’t supposed to eat). They give this cuisine the “ma” effect of (mostly pleasant) numbing and tingling of the lips and tongue while imparting a distinctive, delicious (and one could say addictive) flavor. Not everything served is spicy and hot, but everything I’ve tried so far has been very good. Their lunch specials are a good deal and a nice way to taste a variety of dishes.
As a bonus, they also serve decent bubble teas and smoothies.
While you’re in the area, check out Paldo World (the best Asian grocery I’ve found in the Tacoma area so far) right around the corner. Also nearby in the same shopping center is a Korean tofu restaurant I’ve heard good things about but I haven’t tried because I keep wanting to go back to try more things at Tacoma Szechuan. I’d like to try out some of the Szechuan places in the Seattle area to see how they compare.