A Walk on the Spicy Side in Chinatown

Famous Sichuan is anything but, overshadowed by the Cantonese and Shanghai restaurants that get most of the attention when Chowhounds talk Chinatown. Yet it belongs in the conversation, says AubWah, who calls it "a Sichuan restaurant to be respected."

The sparse reports from this two-year-old place hidden away on Pell Street single out ma po tofu ("bean curd Sichuan style" on the menu) and Chengdu double sautéed pork ("out of this world delicious," promises MWinston). Check out the bargain lunch special: $5.50 for your choice among some 40 entrées plus a cold appetizer, soup, and rice.

Old Sichuan, open less than a year, is about as old as Famous Sichuan is famous, but it enjoys a higher profile among hounds, and the hits just keep on coming. Water-cooked fish ("sliced fish with spicy sauce soup" on the menu; see photo) is a popular order, and bigjeff can see why: Fillets of white-fleshed fish come swimming in chile oil with cabbage, bean curd, and vegetables, "all topped with crazy peppercorns and ma-la flavor ... very very good." Cold dishes like sliced pork with spicy garlic sauce (see photo) and ox tongue and tripe with spicy peppery sauce (see photo) are also standouts. Don't overlook vegetable dishes, including shredded potatoes with vinegar sauce (see photo) and piquant, uniquely flavored sour string beans with minced pork (see photo).

For a rich, over-the-top finish, try sweet eight-jewel taro: mashed taro with jujubes, red beans, preserved fruit, and other goodies, covered with condensed milk. "Really good and highly recommended," jeff advises, "but please save room for it."

And if you've somehow saved a ton of room, consider a cupcake run to tiny Mosco Street, where Everything Frosted makes great ones in Asian-inspired flavors like green tea and black sesame as well as more conventional choices. "The chocolate butter cream on my chocolate chip cupcake was light as a snowflake, low on the sugar, and impossibly fresh," jeff reports. comiendosiempre finds these cupcakes just about perfect, "way better than Magnolia, Buttercup and others."

Famous Sichuan [Chinatown]
10 Pell Street (between Bowery and Dowers Street), Manhattan
212-233-3888

Old Sichuan [Chinatown]
65 Bayard Street (between Mott Street and Bowery), Manhattan
212-227-9888

Everything Frosted [Chinatown]
105 1/2 Mosco Street (between Mott and Mulberry streets), Manhattan
212-227-9828

Discuss: Best Chinatown restaurant options?
Famous Sichuan is the Real Deal
Spectacular dou ban yu (chili bean paste fish) at Old Sichuan on Bayard in Chinatown today
Old Sichuan 老正川 – Good Sichuan Food in Chinatown
Everything Frosted For Afters
Cupcake recommendations for Thanksgiving

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