So two sundays ago, i had dinner with 7 other people at Little Pepper, its been quite a long time since i've been there, so i was looking forward to eating there again. It's a pretty well known place, so i don't need to get into too many details about it. It's in a basement and is a room with white walls, some mirrors and really no decor to speak of. The lady who was the manager was very nice although if you don't speak chinese i can imagine the place could be fairly english challenged, but the menu is in english so you should be fine.
Here's what we ordered:
- water cooked fish (shui zhu yu pian): this is a pretty well known sichuan dish, its basically pieces of white fish (wasn't sure exactly what type it was) with bean sprouts, tons of dry chilis, some scallions and other vegetables and alot of oil. It comes out in a big iron pot type of thing. This was excellent and tasted very authentic (pretty close to what ive had in sichuan). The pieces of fish were very tender, it wasn't too oily, you could really taste the sichuan pepper corns (you can really feel the spice and the numbing feeling). I think this was the consensus favorite. Also, it was very spicy.
- twice cooked pork (hui guo rou): this was thinly sliced pork (think bacon) that is i believe boiled first and then sauteed in a wok. It's cooked with lots of scallions and I believe cabbage. this was delicious, but they kind of skimped on the pork (there wasn't enough of it). I've had better versions, but this was pretty decent
- crab: this was a special (its more expensive i want to say like $30), i dont remember what it was called in english or chinese, but it was excellent (my second favorite dish of the night). It came out in a big iron pot with tons of vegetables (potatoes, lotus roots, scallions and some of others) and also shrimp (they didn't have enough crab, so they told us they had to add shrimp). Everything was throughly covered in cumin and sichuan pepper corns (it's more of a dry dish as opposed to a saucy dish) and was delicious. The crab had great flavor, the flavor of the peppers and cumin really went well with the crab meat and everything just came together very well.
- sauteed peashoots (dou miao): very typical, just dou miao (similar to say spinach) sauteed in oil and garlic, but an excellent rendition, not too oily with great garlic and wok flavor...everyone thought this was excellent
- sichuan cold noodles (sichuan liang mian): this was excellent as well, its simply cold noodles in a sort of soy / peanuty sauce...there was alot of "ma" to this dish (you could taste the numbing), the sauce has sort of a peanuty and soy sauce flavor, but a little tangy. Everyone liked this as well
- wontons in red oil (hong you chao shou): i didnt love these, i thought the won tons themselves were just so so, the skin was too mushy, the sauce was pretty good (red oil and a soy type sauce), but overall just thought it was so so (spicy and tasty or grand sichuan st marks have better versions)
- mapo tofu (ma po dou fu): very good rendition, great flavor, not too oily, just a very well done ma po dou fu. Again you could really taste the "ma" (numbing) and the "la" (spiciness) in this dish. highly recommend
rabbit: this was kind of weird b/c we ordered this, but when I looked at it, I was like this really looks like duck, but then it was sort of gamey, so i figured it was rabbit, but then at the end of the meal the lady asked us how the duck was, so i was throughly confused (we never figured it out and i was too full at that point to really care anymore). Anyhow, besides that it was very good assuming it was rabbit, it was extremely tender and while it was slightly gamey, it wasn't the overly gamey taste that can gross you out. It reminded of the preparation of roast duck at a chiu chow place where its served not that hot, but has a really great flavor where you can really taste the meat. I'd definitely order this again.
Overall, I enjoyed it pretty throughly. The caveat was that I didn't realize a couple of my friends have a fairly weak tolerance to real spicy food and they do make their food pretty authentic (i.e. its very spicy for american tastes), she asked us if we can handle spicy and we said yes, it wasn't a problem for me, but even i was sweating at times. I will say that this is probably the most authentic tasting sichuan meal I've had in NY (tastes fairly close to the real deal)