La Vie En Szechuan Brief Report
I noticed a new Szechuan place next door to Rattle N Hum (33 btwn 5th and Mad) and decided to check it out. The place itself is fairly sparse but clean and well lit. The menu itself is well presented with photos accompanying most dishes.
Started off with the wontons in chili vinaigrette. These were well made with very delicate skins and a nice filling. The sauce was good but not great, plenty of chili heat but it could have used some more peppercorns.
For a main I had the spicy cumin mutton. This was a good rendition of the dish. Plenty of cumin flavor.
My friend had the Shredded pork with Beijing style soy bean paste. I have not had this dish before but liked it.
I didn't get a chance to sample and of the Szechuan standards but will go back as I liked everything I had and would like to sample more of the menu.
No liquor license.
Not a clue, the waiter's English was not the best. As a matter of fact we were the only people speaking English in the fairly packed place. I only had a few things but it is worth checking out. The chef who is pictured on the menu and seems to have a fairly extensive resume was in the house.
Dropped in for lunch this Saturday and was also the only English speaking table (my Mandarin is pitiful). The "Double Cooked Pork" (more like "sauteed bacon, leeks, onions and black beans") was lick-the-plate tasty; I could easily have knocked off three bowls of white rice with it but limited myself to only one-and-a-half ;) . SO had the relatively, IMHO, boring "noodle soup with seafood" which was quite the trough-ful for 9 bucks. La-mien type noodles with extremely fresh veggies and a surprisingly full-bodied broth. Entire kitchen staff paraded out around 1:30 to unload a minivan which had pulled up with large boxes of veggies and meat.
Went back again tonight. Went with my Sichuan staple of Ox Tongue and Maw (Tripe) in chili. Different then what I am used to, a soupier sauce and studded with sesame. i told the waiter I like Ma La when I ordered and it delivered. The sesame seeds were abundant and added a nice textural component. My only complaint here was that there was not enough tongue compared to the tripe.
I got the crabs in chili sauce. Very nice. Fresh crabs drenched in great chili sauce with a vegetable I believe to be bamboo.
My friend got the chicken dish with fried dough. Along the lines of chong qing chicken but with a crispier batter. This was alright.
The menu is interesting and I am curious to see what other Sichuan vets think.