First – Happy Lunar New Year! This is the year of the pig, and before anyone begins to snicker let me share with you this description:
“Contrary to its rather negative reputation in the West, the Pig of Chinese Astrology may be the most generous and honorable Sign of the Zodiac. Pigs are nice to a fault and possess impeccable manners and taste. They have so much of the perfectionist in them that others may be inclined to perceive them as snobs, but this is a misconception. Pigs are simply possessed of a truly luxurious nature, one that delights in finery and riches (in surroundings, food, lovemaking and otherwise). This Sign believes in the best qualities of mankind and certainly doesn't consider itself to be superior. Pigs also care a great deal about friends and family and work hard to keep everyone in their life happy. Helping others is a true pleasure for the Pig, who feels best when everyone else is smiling.” (Source: iVillage, because wikipedia is just ubiquitous.)
The new moon was a most delicate crescent last night, sidling toward the western horizon with the evening star just beneath it. I got a peek at it in the parking lot on the way into the Little Szechuan, where sixteen diners gathered for a chowdown. Returning chowhounders included The Dairy Queen, Orange Julius, JeanMT, Danny, The Chowish Lurker, djohnson22, uisge, The Dairy King, Neitz and his companion-who-does-not-post. We welcomed some new chowdown participants and now have faces to go with names for bob s as well as katebauer, juliacarty and their companions-who-do-not-post.
Inside Little Szechuan, the number of occupied tables reminded us that Dara Moskowitz reviewed the place last week and her favorable comments sure can bring in the customers. Reservations turned out to be a really good idea ... we were promptly seated at the two largest round tables as the dining room filled up around us. Our wait staff worked hard to keep everyone happy – if not in their lives, at least at our tables.
If delighting in finery and riches can be interpreted as hoping to taste every single possibility on the Little Szechuan menu, the folks at my table rang in the New Year with full enthusiasm. Our appetizers included dan dan noodles, stir-fried cucumbers, cheng-du bobo chicken, and tongue slices in red chili sauce. For the main meal, we requested green beans in special sauce, ma po tofu, grilled lamb with scallion and crispy shrimp. There was no duck of any kind, nor eel, so we ordered squid with pickled vegetables, plus pork and vegetables in spicy sauce.
Let’s hear now from everyone who attended. What did you expect? What did you experience? What did you love? What did you regret? Table #2, what did you eat (besides the rabbit and our surplus dishes?)
This is where the reporting leaves off and the opinion starts up, so I’ll throw open the discussion on this note: the Pig must have felt best last night, because by the time we left everyone was smiling.