Though I moved to the Bay Area in January, I lived in the Seattle area for 17 years. In all that time, I never found a truly worthy Sichuan restaurant. So is it fair that, now that I've moved away, there is one?
I visited Seattle this weekend, and a friend dragged me to a Sichuan place. To my astonishment, it was first-rate. We ordered a lot of food, the better to try a bunch of dishes. I don't have exact dish names from the menu, but I think I'm close enough to allow identification. Here's what we had:
Sichuan duck (appetizer). This is actually a tea-smoked duck. It could have been a little moister, but the skin was fantastic, and the meat delicious, a bit ham-like, but not excessive on the salt, and retaining the full flavor of the duck meat. VERY GOOD
Stir-fried swamp cabbage with garlic and a few dried hot peppers. A perfect rendition of this leafy, hollow-stemmed vegetable, tender, fresh, and flavorful. VERY GOOD PLUS
Dry-fried spicy pork intestines. Wonderful job of dry-frying here; the outsides just crisp, the inside firm, the dried remnants of the sauce clinging to the pieces of meat perfectly complementing its flavors. Superb, texture and flavor both. EXCELLENT PLUS
Chong Qin chicken. This is another dry-fried spicy dish, chunks of chicken cooked perfectly to create dry-firm outsides with no sign of overcooking. I really don't know how to get the outer texture so perfect -- and sticky enough to allow a few sesame seeds to cling to the meat. EXCELLENT
Szechuan crab. This was a special, a Dungeness in shell, fried, then stir-fried with peanuts, properly burned hot peppers, scallions, and red oil. Yes, it's really a sort of Kung Pao crab. I was surprised how assertive the flavors were, yet they didn't block any of the crab flavor. EXCELLENT
Total bill was $60, which seemed reasonable.
So. What is this restaurant? It's called Seven Stars Pepper Restaurant, and it's on the south side of Jackson, just east of the intersection with 12th, in that little asian mall that has underground parking, on the second floor, near the elevator.
Highly recommended. Wish it had been around when I was living there.
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