In a word, wowsers.
I thought I had the stomach/esophagus/tongue to handle spicy food, but I have been defeated. I enjoyed the beating, so mysteriously, I will go back again.
So, after tasting sichuan (or is it szechuan) food at Rice Garden and Mary Chung's, I decided that it was definitely my cup of tea and I wanted to try out Sichuan Garden. So even though I was eating alone, I ordered three different dishes and looked forward leftovers.
Based on reading reviews on this board and a few other Googled finds, I order the braised beef with Napa cabbage, the ma po tufu, and the dumplings with roasted chili sauce (suan la chow show). Everything was delicious, but I will be asking them to tone down the heat a little for me next time.
Specifically, the beef dish had great flavors. The cumin (methinks) adds an unusual flavor to the dish and isn't overwhelmed by the heat. The meat is grizzly but tender. The cabbage has been cooked to death, but I actually liked it and wished there was more. It had completely soaked in the flavors.
The ma po tofu was better than the one I had at Mary Chung's. The tofu had a little firmer texture, the sauce was a little less oily (or just lighter oil), and the spiciness-level was higher but not unbearable. Unfortunately, I tried the tofu after the beef dish so I couldn't eat much of it.
The suan la chow show was not as good as the ones at Mary Chung's, although my untrained palette could not sense a clear difference in filling or the noodle. The noodles seemed a little bit slimier than MC's (in a good way) - more like rice noodles than the thick dumpling wrappers you get with pot stickers. But there wasn't as much filling and I didn't like the soupy sauce as much. The focus was clearly on the heat, less so on the flavor. I added a little soy sauce (is this a crime) and enjoyed it much more.
I'll be equipped with more rice today and we'll see if my stomach linings hold up.