Health Department closure several months ago notwithstanding, there was buzz about the new restaurant that served authentic Szechwan dishes. By authentic, I’m referring to the very liberal dose of Szechwan peppercorns that can leave your mouth numb for hours, a trait that is integral to Szechwan cooking, and to the equally liberal dose of dried red chiles. If you’re truly serious about this regional cooking, you have to accept these two linchpins as prerequisites to full appreciation.
Chongqing Chicken comes in large chunks in a batter featuring aforementioned peppercorns. The pepper lent the chicken a distinctive herbal and fragrant quality, a rendition not commonly served here. There were also the requisite amount of dried chiles. To my taste, more green onions would have been welcome.
The sliced catfish and tofu dish was excellent. Liberal amounts of ground pepper numbed the mouth. Slivered red bell peppers and large, meaty dried shiitake were also mixed in as well as Chinese celery that lent an exotic flavor of chrysanthemum leaves.
You get a lot for your money. Service here is spotty, and some of the staff speak very little English.
1299 156th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98007