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Jan 18, 2010 06:58 PM

Sichuan Peppercorns in Dallas

Do any Sichuan restaurants in Dallas use the real peppercorns (the ones that numb your mouth)?

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  1. Yes all three do

    Little Sichuan (a more light hand on the seasoning) at 75 and Legacy

    Royal Sichuan in the Richardson China Town (Beltline and Greenville)

    Sichuanese Cuisine in Plano (Coit and Park)

    You can also buy them at any Chinese market they will say Dried Pepper Corn (Hoa Tieu) with two pandas hugging with a bamboo stalk in their hands is the brand symbol

    7 Replies
      1. re: LewisvilleHounder

        I've been to all three of those restaurants and didn't think they used any of the sichuan pepercorn. I even asked the waiter at Little SIchuan and he said they do not have it (though there might have been a language barrier in that case). Are you certain? Maybe they just don't use much because there's no way to not notice when your mouth is tingling and numb. Maybe my real issue then is finding an excellent Sichuan restaurant to go to, not just one that uses the peppercorn.

        Thanks for the advice on where to buy it. I never would have thought to look in a Vietnamese store (or packaging for that matter). I know they only became legal in the States a few years back and didn't know they were so easy to find at a grocery store.

        1. re: demigodh


          Perhaps it is due to the types of dishes you are ordering. Some Sichuan dishes do not have the peppercorns, and I am not saying that to be snarky. If you order more authentic items off the menu (especially at Royal Sichuan) you will get better food. I have heard from some friends that what they got was bland and what I got was spicy. Sometimes the waiters/waitresses do order your dishes for you at a much tamer level. You need to specify that you would like it spicy! If that doesn't work I would remedy this by buying your own peppercorns and adding as much as you want. Also ask for Jean Gao (waitress) at Little Sichuan she is usually there and can explain the white board options for you. You can also tell her your request for Sichuan peppercorns.

          I do know that Sichuanese and Royal Sichuan both use them perhaps not in copious amounts but rather what the recipe calls for.

          The Ma Po Tofu (both versions, pork and vegetarian) (Sichuanese and likely Royal Sichuan), Sichuan Boiled Fish (Sichuanese), Cold Cucumbers (Little Sichuan - not on the menu), Beer Braised Duck (Royal Sichuan) and I believe the Sliced Beef with Special Bean Curd Gravy (Sichuanese) are all dishes that contain the Sichuan peppercorn that I have had personally.

          1. re: LewisvilleHounder

            bizarre, i guess maybe my palate isn't as trained to detect it. I actually just went to SIchuanese Cuisine today and had the Dan Dan Mien and the Cold Cucmbers, both of which I emphasized "extra spicy" and neither of which I thought were very hot. Generally, I go to great pains to emphasize that I want spicy when at an Asian restaurant and ordering spicy food, typically lying to the server and saying "i lived in 'bangkok' for two years and I know 'thai' spicy". Rarely do I believe I'm getting the same level of heat as the patrons who speak the native language.

            The dishes I've tried and expected the peppercorn are Ma Po Tofu, Cold Cucumber, Dan Dan Noodles, Dumplings in Chili Sauce, Pig Ear in Chili Sauce and a few others. I'm thinking maybe I'm just expecting a much heavier hand with the pepper than I should or they're serving me something less spicy than they serve others. Oh well, I'll try to get to Little Sichuan and ask for something off the white board. Thanks for the suggestions.

            1. re: demigodh

              These dishes don't all necessarily contain sichuan peppercorns. Ma pa tofu definitely does. Chili sauce dishes often contain chili oil and chilis without the peppercorns, depending on the recipe. "Spicy" is not necessarily an indicator of having the peppercorns. At Little Sichuan and maybe the other places, you could simply ask for a dish that contains the peppercorns.

              1. re: luniz

                I was surprised when I saw what Sichuan peppercorns look like. For those that are curious:

                According to wikipedia, they are not peppery or hot. Instead they have more of a lemon flavor. They can have a numbing effect on your lips in large doses.

          2. re: demigodh

            Interesting use of the term 'real peppercorn' when in actuality the sichuan is not a real peppercorn, but rather the outer hull of the small fruit. But, yea, what they said. I get mine at Penzey's despite seeing them at Asian markets. I like smaller quantities most of the time.