I'm sad to say that even though I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, I had never had true Sichuan before. Sure, I make ma po tofu at home, but I've discovered that my version is like Carrie before the prom--sad and soggy--as compared to Carrie afterwards--burning hot.
That was a long way of saying that I finally went to Oriental Pearl and came away singed but satisfied and buzzing. As previous posts recommended, we tried the water boiled chicken. That was my favorite, great flavor that I can't quite explain. It's very spicey but not in a it's too hot to enjoy kind of way, just in what's happening to my tongue, it's vibrating kind of way. We also tried the stir fried lamb something (it's the first listed under Chef's Specials), which also was excellent. the perfect amount of lamb-y taste without being gamey. The ma po tofu was not as tastey as the other two but still good.
Anyway, for those of you who have not tried Sichuan, be warned that it does weird things to you. I seriously felt like I had taken some kind of narcotic. My tongue and entire head seemed to buzz for about 10 minutes after dinner. Which is not bad, jsut weird. Others can probably explain it better. Regardless, I will be back...maybe it is a narcotic.
227 W. Valley (b/w New Ave. and Del Mar)