The undisputed Sichuan capital of Manhattan is 39th Street right now. Down the block from the celebrated Szechuan Gourmet is two-month-old Lan Sheng, and Bob Martinez declares the new kid a "worthy competitor."
Its dan dan noodles are "suitably spicy," he reports, "and after a minute we felt the pleasant buzz of Szechuan peppercorns." Chengdu wonton, in Sichuan peppercorn vinaigrette, are meaty yet delicate. Double-cooked streaky pork is excellent: "the flavors of the peppers played off the richness of the pork belly. The heat level was high enough to add interest without overwhelming the ingredients."
Sauces here are a tad thicker and more complex than the local competition, with a touch of sweetness that some may not take to. But Bob's a fan. "Everything we had was skillfully prepared; I got the strong feeling that there are a lot of great dishes on the menu waiting to be discovered. We'll be back."
Lan Sheng [Midtown]
60 W. 39th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues), Manhattan