First, the bad news. Spicy & Tasty is gone and has turned into a Northern Chinese restaurant. I found this out as I planned to have a group dinner at Spicy & Tasty with 8 others. After we all met up there, we had to decide whether we still wanted Sichuan or something else. I've been wanting to check out Yangtze River Restaurant for Shanghai food (on 40th Rd), so we went by there only to find a long wait (as usual). Shanghai Tang across the street was the available alternative for this hungry group.
So here's the good news. Shanghai Tang has an all-you-can-eat hot pot deal for $21/person, which includes many appetizers (like scallion pancakes, sesame pancakes, and pork soup dumplings--not the ones with crab, unfortunately), desserts (like hot sweet bean soup, sweet red bean rice cakes), and drinks including all the Budweiser you can drink. The list of ingredients for the hot pot are too many to mention, but make sure to get clams, blue crab and lots of meat dishes as they serve to give the broth a great flavor (especially the clams). The hot pots are halved in two sections, one for the unadulterated broth, and the other for broth plus lots of hot oil and chilis. It's your typical sichuan hot pot, but in a Shanghai restaurant. I've noticed that the menu at Shanghai Tang includes many sichuan dishes as well. They also have a dipping sauce bar from which you can create your own sauces. The leek sauce was a real standout.
We ended up overstaying our 2-hour limit for the all-you-can-eat deal, but we were one of the two or three remaining tables, so luckily, they weren't in a rush to kick us out either. I don't know what it is about the idea of free beer, but once our table discovered that the beer was free-flowing, we must have demolished a couple cases, at least. It was a fun and raucous evening, and the staff at Shanghai Tang were very accommodating. They are also open late.
One other note, for those of you trying out the Atkins diet, the hotpot might be a great way to go (as long as you don't order the scallion pancakes, too many dumplings, the sweet stuff, and the beer). It's a meat and veggie fest otherwise.