Finally got to Spring World on Christmas. It was the only place in the chinatown mall not completely packed with revellers.
To warm up, we got the Don Don noodles (on the snack menu), which were really great. I just wish there had been more noodles. Sort of a peculiar presentation, the sauce is assembled in the bowl, complete with so, chilis, other little black bits of deliciousness, and I think shredded bits of intensely flavorful pork, and then a pile (too small, alas) of lukewarm yellow egg noodles (yunnan tagliatelli) are piled on top. You need to get the nodles out onto the plate and then dig around to get the sauce onto your plate, guaranteeing the chili oil splatter and pork bits in your hair. But the taste is great: really pungent.
Main courses were very good. Baby chicken with ginger was phenomenally tender and fiery-hot (both temp and scofields) with tons of red chilis, fried scallions and ginger hunks nestled between the morsels. Eggplant with garlic in a casserole (as recommended by Mary) was great, if a little overcooked. I think that Lao Sze Chuan may have ruined me for eggplant anywhere else (as chow down diners will attest). We also had a szechuan lamb casserole (not the one recommended below, we weren't ready to stomach lamb with fish and pickles, maybe next time). I though the lamb we got was a little peculiar, but my table mates liked it. There were long stewed lamb chunks on the boned swimming in a bright yellow and red szechuan peppercorn and cilantro infused broth, with a ton of ginger and other unidentifiable bits. The lamb peices had lost most of their lamb flavor, and I was afraid to dig too deeply into the broth for fear that I would repeat my mouth numbing experiences from previous szechuan peppercorns at Lao Sze Chuan.
I did experience a lot of table envy: on family had a large pot and burner in which they were cooking their own beef and vegetables fondue style. And I saw a little girl enjoying what looked like an enormous deep fried ham hock. Plus I hope that next time they might have some of the Yunnan Ham stirfries and steamed chicken that Mary had been looking for.
The day prior we had the always terrific Sun Wah roast duck, a flask of soup with shrimp wontons (pretty good if not up to the Full Kee-DC level of shrimp wonton-tasticness) and an ok rendition of clams in black bean sauce that would have been better without the little pork bits invading the intense flavors of black bean onion and scallion in the sauce.
Our christmas movie was The Royal Tenenbaums. Funny.
Any other chow-jews or christmas chinese aficionados care to weigh in?