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Aug 25, 2009 04:19 AM

Wa Jeal -New Sichuan Restaurant 83rd/2nd Ave

Had a chance to try this new place twice this week. Food is very good. No liquor license yet so its byob for now. Had the Camphur Tea smoked duck (twice)-my newest favorite dish du jour. Very tasty w good deep smokey taste. Also the Wok tossed calamari w hua jiao-spiced salt was delicious esp w rice. I know this place will make it simply on the fact they serve very good food. Give it a try!

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  1. Have you been to Wu Liang Ye on 86th and 3rd? How does it compare?

    4 Replies
    1. re: glutton08

      They hired chef from Wu Liang Ye!!! funny you ask-also I see some waiters from there as well-so the food as good!

      1. re: UES Mayor

        I've been following (slavishly) that guy since he worked at Lion Pavilion in Queens. Thanks SO much for helping me bridge this gap. I brought a party of ten to Wu Liang Yee a couple of months ago and was embarrassed by the food being merely ok. After one bite of the hand-shredded chicken in sesame vinaigrette, I instantly knew he was gone. You've made my day.

        1. re: UES Mayor

          This is good to know. I have been to the UES Wu Liang Ye and been unimpressed. I will give this one a shot and report back as I have normally been travelling for my Szechuan fix.

          Have you tried any of the cold appetizers? Do they bring the numbing heat?

          1. re: UES Mayor

            ha! Thanks for the reply. Guess my go-to Szechuan just got a little closer to home.

        2. Hmm, sounds good. Given the non-standard (not Pinyin) Romanizationin the name, may be Taiwanese-run? Good to know about for next visit to the Met. Will check out, thanks for this tip!

          1. Great to know. (Always on the look out for good Chinese restaurants). I have been going to Wu Liang Ye so I wonder if there will be any decline in their quality since the chef and some waiters have moved to Wa Jeal.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ellenost

              ellenost, a restaurant's food is as good as the chef. The tablecloths and light fixtures don't cook the food! :)

              They may eventually land another genius chef.......but it won't be THIS genius chef. And, in the meantime, I can report that the current guy is sort of blah. Using the old guy's recipes, but tastes like photocopies.

              1. re: Jim Leff

                Thanks for letting me know; I'll try Wa Jeal (sorry to hear about Wu Liang Ye since it turns out one of the managers lives near my mother in Brooklyn, and they became good pals in her last few visits--maybe he went to Wa Jeal too?).

            2. I just hit this place up for lunch and was very impressed. While lunch might not always be the best time to try a new place out, I was hungry and wanted to give it a shot. The lunch menu is split between Sichuan dishes and Americanized Chinese. I got the Stir fried prawns w chili minced pork and vegetables as you cant really go wrong with seafood and pork. Six good sized shrimp scattered with minced pork, preserved cabbage, cucumbers, jicama and chilis made for a very good lunch. The shrimp themselves were very big and of high quality, very sweet. They were dusted in rice flour and butterflied. The sweet flavour of the shrimp went very well with the salty and sour minced pork and preserved vegetables. There was a good amount of heat from the chilis and the jicama cooled the palate nicely. No ma la peppercorn taste was detected but I am not sure if it was supposed to be there as this may have been more of a Hunan dish

              The wonton soup that came with it was decent too though a bit bland. The wontons themselves had nice thin skins and a good pork center.

              Definitely will come back to explore the real menu as there are a number of things I want to try.

              4 Replies
              1. re: MVNYC

                "No ma la peppercorn taste was detected"

                "Ma la" means "numbing and hot."

                There's no such thing as a "ma la peppercorn" any more than there's such a thing as a "sweet and sour sugar" or a "hot and sour vinegar." Sugar isn't sour, vinegar isn't hot, unless it's been adulterated. Likewise, the Sichuan so-called peppercorn is numbing ("la") but it isn't hot. If you want hot along with your numbing, you have to add chillis or other hot/piquant ingredients.

                I first came across this misbegotten usage in Todd Kliman's article about Peter Chang, but perhaps he picked it up from a previous misguided example. Apparently he couldn't be bothered to check Wikipedia for the straight story on "ma la." Ha also believes Knoxville is west of Atlanta, which makes me wonder how accurate the rest of his writing is.

                1. re: KWagle

                  I think that mvnyc is basically correct. KWagle is mostly correct.
                  Wikipedia says:
                  "The term málà is a combination of two Chinese characters: "numbing" (麻) and "spicy (hot)" (辣), referring to the feeling in the mouth after eating the sauce.

                  The numbness is caused by Sichuanese peppercorn

                  1. re: RichardMW

                    If you understand the meaning of "ma" and "la", and have tasted huajiao, the so-called Sichuan peppercorn, it should be clear to you that huajiao does not produce the sensation known by the name "la". "La" is what Americans call "hot" and huajiao does not produce that flavor or sensation. The most common ingredient that causes that sensation is (drum roll please) "lajiao."

                    Maybe MVNYC wasn't using language well that day, and intended to say "no ma peppercorn taste was detected, nor was any la taste from any of several possible sources detected." But if (as I read it) MVNYC was referring to a "ma la peppercorn" which provides a "ma la peppercorn taste" then they aren't "basically correct." They're actually incorrect. Huajiao may be many things, but no matter how hard you hope and pray, it just isn't "la."

                    1. re: KWagle

                      I was mistaken, I believed that mala referred to the numbing sensation. Sorry I did not double check my sources as I really don't want to see someone get so worked up over it.

              2. Ordered delivery from Wa Jeal last night:
                A1 - hand shredded chicken - very tender chicken but the sauce could have used more heat, whether it was meant to be spicy or not, I also wish they would leave the skin on to really accentuate the flavor of chicken you get when they make the chicken this way (like Hainan chicken prep, forgot chinese, 白鸡?)

                A2 - ox tongue & tripe - the most impressive heat of any Sichuan restaurant I've eaten between NYC and Boston, everywhere else seems so timid. Wa Jeal's version really piled on the chilis and hua jiao.

                A36 - wok tossed calamari - 椒盐鱿鱼 - not meant for take out and the salt & pepper was a bit weak, though it didn't like it was coated in MSG, which I don't mind either.

                C20/C32 - cumin lamb, I asked for '自然羊肉' or lamb cooked naturally, which is typically lamb stir-fried in a lot of cumin and cilantro with maybe some hua jiao. I don't really see it specifically on the menu as C20 is lamb ribs in cumin, c32 is lamb filets with hua jiao. FYI, dish is priced at
                $18.95 like C20. It came as a lamb with cumin and cilantro but also with onions and bell peppers, much like 葱爆羊肉 would. Thankfully, the onions and peppers did not get in the way of the cumin lamb. Probably still needs some more cumin and a bit more hua jiao. The last time I had a great dish of cumin lamb was at the Zoe's in Brookline, MA.

                2 Replies
                1. re: avial

                  The cumin lamb at Hunan House in Flushing is extremely good. Looking forward to trying this place.

                  1. re: avial

                    Try the cumin lamb at Little Pepper.