Just went to the newly-opened Anise for lunch, curious to see if that location could actually pull off some good food (it's the former location of Jasmine - 1 Kendall Sq, Building 300). I should have known to run when I saw the words in the window, about how they serve Americanized versions of Sichuan cuisine. Now, I know that new restaurants have lots of kinks to work out, but I don't think this restaurant will ever be any good.
When I asked for tea, I was given a menu of the different teas they had. I guess it's nice to have a variety of fancy tea, but I just wanted some cheap tea with my meal, not $4/cup or $6/pot tea.
I asked for a Chinese lunch menu, but was told they didn't have any. The (white) waiter seemed offended by my request, even after I explained that I didn't know what the dishes were from the English names. After standing by the table and wondering out loud why I'd need a Chinese menu, he finally pulled a Chinese speaker from the kitchen, who answered my questions. Forgive my racism, but I was suspicious of the food when I saw that all the waiters out front were white, even though I was told that the kitchen staff was Chinese. I suspect that the white people are in charge of the flavor, even if the Chinese people do the cooking.
The diced chicken with mustard greens was terribly bland; the hot peppers contained the only heat, which wasn't integrated throughout the dish. At least they used the real mustard greens instead of substituting. The homestyle beancurd had even less flavor and suffered the same integration problem. Eating it made me think that this is why most Americans don't like beancurd. This food isn't even good Chinese food, let alone good Sichuan food.
The dishes came served on plates, with a scoop of rice next to them. I've never had good Chinese food in the U.S. this way... always had bowls of rice, and platters of entrees.
If you're in the area and want Chinese food, Mulan is a MUCH better choice.