Little Pepper College Point
- johnk Jul 26, 2012 10:21 AM
So, me and Grindy go over there for lunch today and it's closed??
Ended up at Savory Fusion for some dumplings (pork & chive and lamb) and Cumin Lamb Noodle Soup. Any reports on LP??
These postings prompted me to try Little Pepper (College Point) last night for dinner. Unfortunately, my wife and son do not eat spicy so I was limited in what I can order. Let me first say that the portions were huge and prices were reasonable. Got a lot of leftovers from the meal. We ordered:
Sichuan Style Double Cooked Pork ($10)
For me, this beats the version served at Hunan Kitchen simply for the fact that they don't use fermented black beans. Other than that, both versions are excellent. I simply don't like fermented black beans (or olives or raisins, but that's another story).
Eggplant In Garlic Sauce ($8)
Very good. Just a little spicy which my wife can handle. The skin was slightly crispy from the stir fry. It would have been even better if the eggplant was cut into smaller pieces so there was more surface area exposed to the heat.
Chicken with broccoli ($10)
Okay dish. There was more chicken than broccoli. The sauce was a little too salty.
Dandan Noodle ($6)
It came with a big bowl filled with noodles. The Sichuan peppers was front and center in this dish. My mouth went numb with the citrus sensation that I associated with Sichuan peppers. Wish the noodles was more al dente because it got pretty soft by the end of the dish.
We got to the restaurant around 7 PM and most of the tables were in use. I thought that was pretty good for a Sunday night. Unlike Flushing, that neighborhood feels deserted at night.
Engaging the wait staff in detailed discussions about the dishes and then asking for things to be made less spicy is a surefire way to get a mediocre meal.
I suggest you look at their on line menu, pick out some dishes that appeal, and then post them here for comments. Not every dish is heavily spiced. (Look for the ones with a single asterisk or none at all.)
Went to LP tonight, Sunday about 8. Nice crowd but some empty tables so we were seated immediately. (This is our third time here in the last few months.)
Signature dish is lamb with cumin. The first time we had it there was plenty of cumin and some heat from Sichuam peppercorn. Tonight it was mostly peppercorn and not much cumin. Dish was very tasty either way but be advised.
Smoked tea shredded duck was a revelation, the smoky Lapsang.tea gives the duck almost a bacon flavor. Fabulous.
Dandan noodles were superb -- perfectly al dente noodle, just the right amount of pork, plenty of hot chili oil, and the dish was just moistened with sauce, not wet and soupy. Fiery but wonderful.
For fun we had Potato in Hot Sauce as an appetizer -- this is commercial crinklecut frozen french fries, deep-fried and heavily dusted with finely ground Sichuan peppercorn. Ultimate bar food with a cold Tsingtao.
I went here last year, and also ordered the lamb with cumin. It was more like cumin with fat, but since I'm a fan of the former, I...just had some of my friend's dish instead.
Better to ask, what eggplant dishes would you all recommend at Little Pepper? Hopefully something a bit more substantial than eggplant, potato and green pepper (地三鮮).
Wow. I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this place for years. I guess part of the reason for that is that I don’t get there as often as I’d like or as often as it deserves. Little Pepper used to be located on a slightly dingy strip of Roosevelt Ave. in Flushing. A few years ago they moved to a much nicer space in College Point. Unfortunately even with a car the place is something of a haul from my apartment in Brooklyn.
I need to say this up front – I think Little Pepper is serving some of the best Sichuan food you can get in New York. I’d rank it up there with Lan Sheng. Yes, it’s that good.
The new digs fall on the higher end of “bright lights Chinese.” Everything is sparkly clean and new.
We’ve probably been to the new venue 5 or 6 times. I should have posted about my meals while the memory was fresh but oh well.
Dan Dan noodles.
I think their version is the best in the city. Not as saucy as some but there’s plenty of Sichuan peppercorns hiding in that bowl. For some reason most Sichuan restaurants serve their noodles in ridiculously small bowls which make it a real trick to toss the noodles and cover them in sauce. At LP the bowls are larger and noodles are already tossed when the bowl hit the table. It would be great if this catches on.
Five Spiced Beef
This is a ridiculously large portion, better suited for sharing with a group of six. Not that I’m complaining. The flavor is quite good if a bit one dimensional. That’s the nature of the dish. You have 5 or 6 slices and move on.
Lamb with scallions.
The name says it all. It’s tender and lamby and the scallions are the perfect pairing. If you like lamb you need to order this. Not overly spicy but still full flavored.
Chicken with Peanuts
I think this was everybody’s gateway dish for Sichuan cuisine and over time you sort of graduate out of ordering it. LP’s version reminds you of why you liked it in the first place. There’s plenty of heat and the chicken is suitably juicy.
Our old friend who we first met at Spicy & Tasty more than 10 years ago. LP’s version is top notch. Another picture of the pork taken on a different day because I like looking at it.
Beef w. Hot Spicy Sauce w. Cumin
For reasons unknown it’s all wrapped up like a baked potato in a 1960s restaurant. The flavor was wonderful though, plenty of cumin and nice and juicy. Cumin is one of those spices that’s easy to overuse. LP’s version of this dish keeps things in proportion. (We’ve only had this once – I don’t know if the aluminum wrapping was a one off or not.)
OK, we’re up to last Sunday’s meal.
Fresh Cucumber with mashed garlic sauce.
This was wonderful. WONDERFUL. The best version of this dish I’ve ever had. It’s served with plenty of lightly sauteed garlic which is a perfect counterpoint to the sesame oil dressing. Not spicy at all but wonderfully refreshing.
Chicken Nuggets in Garlic Sauce
My GF thought she was ordering a drier chicken presentation and the sauciness of this dish was a bit of an unpleasant surprise. I think it was an issue of expectations. There was a bit of sweet and sourness to the sauce with a good amount of underlying heat. Pleasantly juicy. I’d give it a B+ but my GF would probably grade it a B.
Wonton in Hot & Sour Sauce
This picture is smaller for a reason. It’s only here as a warning. While the wontons were generously sized and quite meaty the sauce was truly lackluster. Slightly hot and sour, watery, and under salted. Perhaps the kitchen was having a bad day on just this one dish? Because everything else was wonderful.
I saved the best for last. Sliced Pork with Tree Mushroom.
I struggle not to order this every time I go to Little Pepper. The mushrooms are a great match to the pork and the sauce is slightly vinegary with a touch of sweetness and heat. Complex and perfect.
I wish this restaurant was closer to me. It really is that good.
re: Bob Martinez
Bob, that's a great write-up. I love the new location. it's only a mile further away and so much easier to park.
If you love the dandan noodles, try the "noodle with minced beef in hot sauce". Everyone I go with thinks it's better than the dandan noodles, not that there's anything wrong with the dandan.
We always get the lamb with cumin, rather than the beef. It's always presented in foil. And always excellent.
I've never had the Wontons in Hot and Sour Sauce but have tried the Wontons in Hot Sauce. But only once. My experience was similar to yours -- watery sauce and not spicy enough.
I've never tried their Chicken in Garlic Sauce and your description confirmed why. I'm not a fan of any of LP's garlic sauce dishes as most are too gloppy and they're all too sweet for my taste.
But those are the few dishes I don't love. Yes, the Enhanced Pork is outstanding, as are most of the other dishes.
You need to move to Queens.
re: Cheese Boy
"Bob, Malba would be perfect for you."
I just Googled the houses in Malba.
If I was rich enough to live there I'd hire the chef at Little Pepper and move him in to my Malba mansion and have him cook for me full time.