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Jun 13, 2011 06:36 PM

Little Pepper Opportunity

I stopped into Little Pepper this past week and got into a discussion with the owners and staff about some items that were on their menu before they moved. If they have the ingredients the chef is happy to make dishes not on the menu.

In the course of our conversation Mrs. Deng mentioned that they are putting together a new menu that should be in place in the next month or so. In the meantime she invited me (or anyone else) to let her know about dishes they'd like added. This is not restricted to old menu items. They apparently will consider any Sichuan dish. In the past when I asked if they could do Gan Bian Niu Rou Si the chef delivered a great version.

For my part last wek, I asked that they add their 'twice cooked (homemade) sausage and leek.' But this isn't much of a stretch, since it's already a popular off menu dish. Unfortunately for me they had sold out of the sausage earlier.

Can't help but mention that there are a bunch of menu items that are so well done that I generally always order. This time we deliberately ordered only new and mostly pedestrian sounding dishes.They were all between excellent and amazing.
Included were

Shredded potato with pickled cabbage - potato threads with a crisp and depth of flavor provided by the other vegetable

Shredded pork with bamboo shoots - I've had this elsewhere a number of times because I like bamboo shoots, but now I'll only be able to get it here. Balance and flavor were amazing.

Minced pork with clear noodle (elsewhere known as 'Ants climbing a tree') - after a few nondescript versions elsewhere I've been reluctant to order given all the other great choices. But, now will order it regularly.

Chicken in house special sauce - in the spirit of ordering only new dishes I'd intended to order
Kung Pao Chicken, but was warned away by Mrs. Deng. She was right about this as an excellent well balanced dish with deep flavor.

Sliced pork with wood ear - this is a favorite of ours at some other Flushing restaurants, so seemed a safe, if innocuous, bet. Wrong. This has to be the the best version we've ever had. Just amazing balance of complementary flavors.

Little Pepper
18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356

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    1. re: rschwim

      It's similar to Dry Sauteed Pig Intestine on the menu, but using shredded beef.

      1. re: kamiko

        Gan Bian is a healthy stir-frying technique because it uses very little oil. String beans is a classic, but other ingredients can be used; e.g., Niu Rou Si means beef slices (cut for a stir fry).

      1. I have to get to the new LP very soon!

        Glad to read about another CH'er enamored of that pork with bamboo shoots! Thanks for the post..wish I knew enough about Sichuan food to offer some ideas for the new menu.

        4 Replies
        1. re: erica

          awesome post. how do you pronounce "Si"?

          1. re: AubWah

            絲 in a strong high tone. The full dish name spelled out: 干煸牛肉絲

            1. re: diprey11

              thank you but i cant read chinese

              1. re: AubWah

                干煸牛肉絲 = Gan Bian Niu Rou Si: you can simply show this to a waiter.
                Si (絲) is pronounced with a strong high tone (#1).

        2. I've never been to Little Pepper, always went to Spicy and Tasty....does Little Pepper make anything like S&T's Spicy shrimp with turnips? Or, Shimp with black beans sauce on bed of spinach? Or cold sesame noodles that have no pork in them? From what I remember, everything is pork laden there, and I don't eat pork, or meat for the most part..just seafood or chicken. Thank you for any help...

          Little Pepper
          18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356

          13 Replies
          1. re: janie

            Cold noodles in sesame oil dressing with no meat? Sure. The other two don't seem to be Sichuan specialties (S&T is more expansive--and eclectic--in their offerings) so I never ordered them there, but seafood (in general, oysters and other shellfish being most typical) in the black bean sauce is a Chinese staple, so any competent chef should be able to cook it for you: all the ingredients are very generic, and if they have fresh seafood I see no reason why they wouldn't.

            If you don't eat pork, please tell them up front. There are great alternatives (a good friend of mine is a Hindu and a strict vegetarian but we've had no problem ordering) such as dried tofu, there is also fish, etc.

            In my personal and somewhat strong opinion, LP is a league above S&T, especially if you enjoy complex, layered, spicy flavors.

            1. re: diprey11

              Hit LP again today for a father's day meal. Agree that it is better than S&T.

              Had another stellar meal, tho in general the experience was not as good as last time. Mrs. Deng didn't seem to be there and they only had one overworked and seemingly inexperienced waiter, who was literally running to take care of all his tables. He also didn't really speak any english, so asking questions about the menu was a little bit of a challenge. I wanted to get the tea-smoked duck sauteed with ginger or with string beans, something that someone else here has said was not on the menu but was available if you asked. I tried to explain it to the waiter, but he came back from talking to the chef and said no, they didn't make those dishes.

              The problem with going with my family is that both kids have their fave sichian dishes that we have to order, which doesn't leave much room for trying new things. We had:

              dan dan noodles and the other similar noodle dish with beef: both good. the dan dan are the best i've had apart from the sichuan place in the now-defunct roosevelt food court.
              fish soup with sichuan picked cabbage: this was very good, tho I think the version at legend is a tad better. At both places I love the fish, the broth, and the vegetables, but find the glass noodles in the soup a bit superfluous.
              Chongking chicken (or whatever it's called--the one with all the dried red peppers): a very good version of this dish. I like that they cut up the dried peppers so it's obvious that one should eat them. at other places the whole peppers are just kind showered on top, so it's harder to get a small mouthful of pepper with your chicken bites, and many people seem to just shove the peppers aside and only eat the chicken.
              mapo tofu: very good rendition of this dish.
              cucumbers in garlic sauce: this was a great dish and not at all what i was expecting. very salty and garlicky. And a huge portion as well. I'm looking forward to eating these tomorrow, tho I may experiment a little and sprinkle some rice-wine vinegar on them.

              almost every table i passed had the shredded potato and cabbage dish on it. I wanted to order it but was vetoed. Perhaps next time.

              I'm also curious about the shredded beef with fresh pepper on the menu. Is this beef sauteed with green chili peppers, or something else?

              1. re: missmasala

                Eating hot chilli peppers in Chungking chicken is optional: I like to suck them dry, but most people would simply push them aside.
                I wouldn't dismiss the shredded potato: you will be surprised how different it tastes: crunchy, fresh, and peppery.
                Which shredded beef do you mean? Do you have a specific name?
                No tea-smoked duck? That's bizarre...

                1. re: diprey11

                  They had the whole tea-smoked duck, but they wouldn't stirfry it with the ginger or the beans.

                  And I'm not sure which one i mean cause I can't remember what it was called. Maybe "shredded beef with fresh hot pepper" or "shredded beef with fresh green pepper."

                  A dish of beef sauteed with chili peppers sound delicious, but i live in fear of getting a dish of beef sauteed with regular green peppers.

                  And I wasn't dismissing the shredded potato--it was the rest of my family. But next time I'll insist.

                  1. re: missmasala

                    I'll help a little and then confuse things more.
                    Little Pepper's old menu had "Beef with Spicy Pepper". The new one has "P19 - Shredded Beef w Green Pepper". There is also a lunch special on the new menu - "L6 - Shredded Beef w Spicy Pepper".
                    But to confuse things, the two items on the new menu have the same Chinese characters, but is different from the characters on the old menu. So I can't tell you whether the dish comes with spicy peppers or ordinary green peppers. And of the 50+ dishes I've tried at LP, this is one I've missed, maybe because of the fear of getting ordinary bell peppers.

                    1. re: el jefe

                      All of those menu items are the same.
                      Actually you could say that they are the restaurant's namesake dish in that the first three characters translate to "Little (Chile) Pepper" - just as on the menu or the sign out front - and then, "Shredded Beef".
                      Interesting that you have had so many different dishes, but not this one. Just the same for me. It's a Sichuan standard that's been recommended to me a couple times and I'm sure it must be tasty.
                      But it's so widely available that for a pepper dish I can't get beyond the less common, "Sour and Salty Whole Green Pepper," made with long green (chili) peppers.

                      1. re: kamiko

                        For the sake of those who don't write Chinese, did you mean 小辣椒牛肉子 ?

                        1. re: diprey11

                          Almost. Just as you have it, but the last character is 絲 meaning shredded.
                          As an aside, 子(child, small, etc.) is in another couple of their dishes. Chongqing La Zi (子) Ji, and the companion Fengdu La Zi Ji. First is without bone, second same but with bone. I like these dishes in general to the point of ordering at LP, but have to to say that there are better versions elsewhere including an ethereal version in NJ.

                          1. re: kamiko

                            Here 子 Zi is merely a noun suffix - and has nothing to do with 子 Zǐ son, child, egg etc.

              2. re: diprey11

                S&T's black bean sauce isn't anything like a typical black bean sauce--the best black bean sauce were the scallops that Sun Lok Kee in its old digs in Manhattan used to make...miss those!! I don't eat tofu either---I asked because I've never heard anything about any shellfish there, only pork, beef and fish comments....(and other odd parts)


                1. re: janie

                  i forgot to get a takeout menu, but i noticed that they did have a couple of shrimp dishes on there, and a few chicken ones. the menu is def not as wide-ranging as S&T, tho.

                  1. re: janie

                    That's right, shellfish in the black bean sauce is not a Sichuan specialty and Sun Lok Kee is a Cantonese name. :-) S&T has a great cross-Chinese selection while LP is a Sichuan specialist. IIRC, the Sichuan province is land-locked. But, would you consider their rabbit, duck, or maybe their whole steamed fish (either with red chilli sauce or with minced meat)?

              3. I just had a terrific dinner at Little Pepper. I was afraid it might be dumbed down for us when we were warned that the steamed chicken in chilli sauce (kou shui ji) came with bones and we wouldn't like it, but it was truly mouth-watering. The sweet and tangy sauce, studded with pops of sesame seed and Sichuan peppercorn was absolutely enchanting. Sliced fish in hot bean paste was also delicious: very meaty fish double cooked with a sweet and sour brown sauce. The texture of the fish, slightly meaty and almost fluffy, was offputting to one diner, but I enjoyed it. The only miss for me was the dan dan noodles which, while not bad, just weren't done the way I like. Still I plan on reviewing many more items on their menu so long as I've got decent transportation to College Point.

                Little Pepper
                18-24 College Point Blvd, Queens, NY 11356