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We have long lamented the lack of classic Chinese cuisine in the Coachella Valley. Chinese/American places abound, the kind that specialize in bland take-out, sullen table service, and mindless fortune cookies.
But we recently discovered CIE Sichuan in Indio, not too far from the 10 and Jackson. The area may be a bit sketchy, but parking is private and ample, and the interior is lavish and lush, boasting a beautiful decor. But the food is what really shines, authentic Szechuan flavor and ingredients, bold, spicy, and absolutely fresh.
We started with Garlic Cucumber, a specialty of the house. The cucumber chunks are marinated in a pungent sauce of smashed garlic, soy, and other spices. They burst with flavor but maintain a crisp texture. A tasty starter, setting the palate for the flavors and spices to come.
The Szechuan Beef was a standout, stir-fried with carrots and celery, savory and hot. We ordered a side of stir-fried green beans, smokey, spiced, and perfectly textured. Everyone at the table agreed they were the best green beans we had ever eaten.
Other recommendations: Kung Pao Chicken and Steamed Pork Dumplings. We were not as keen on the Pork Belly in a garlic sauce.
Hospitality is warm and gracious, though some of the servers are new to our language. However, the manager is fluent and her husband is an American, so when communications falter, they can be summoned.
CIE offers a full bar, but not a familiarity with Western cocktails and spirits. We stick with Sake or Beer. And, yes, they do have takeout (best done online since phone calls go unanswered) and of course fortune cookies.
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