My wife and I ventured to Little Pepper in Flushing, located in the old Spicy and Tasty space. A few months ago we visited Spicy and Tasty and enjoyed it but weren't blown away, perhaps we ordered wrong or they just really cut back on the spices for us. Our experience at Little Pepper was everything we had hoped for at Spicy and Tasty but didn't get. We only tried 4 dishes but were blown away by all of them. I really think that Little Pepper is a step above Spicy and Tasty.
1) Soft bean curd with spicy sauce: silky soft tofu with peanuts, cilantro and a not overwhelmingly spicy sauce. The peanuts were a great textural contrast to the soft tofu, and the cilantro helped cut through the rich spicy sauce
2) Pork Dumplings with spicy sauce: a pile of dumplings came in a large bowl of sauce, almost like a soup. The spicy sauce was completely different than the one that came with the tofu, not quite as spicy and with more of a sweet taste. The dumpling dough was also a little sweet which complimented the pork meat and really enhanced the spicy flavor in the sauce. This was our favorite dish of the night.
3) Dried Green Beans: my wife's comparison dish that she orders at every Chinese restaurant, she learned to love it during her study abroad in Beijing and she said that Little Pepper may have made the best rendition of it that she's had yet. I don't think it's a typical Sìchuān dish, but it sure tastes good.
4) Lamb with Spices: The dry cooked lamb with cumin and spices is my favorite dish at Waterfront International, and at Little Pepper they took the dish to another level. The Sìchuān peppercorn and chili combination left your mouth on fire but begging for more. I couldn't handle eating the entire serving of this, due to the heat but I'm happy they didn't hold back for me. In terms of pure enjoyability I probably still like the Waterfront International version because I can actually finish the whole dish, but the flavor profile of the Little Pepper version certainly more sophisticated and more satisfying on an individual bite level.
Our grand total with beer and tip was $36, a total steal. I definitely look forward to going back and exploring the menu more, as we waited for our check we noticed the wall specials and my wife tried to decipher a few of them but her Chinese is kind of rusty. She was able to identify the main meats in each dish but the cooking methods weren't familiar, we'll have to ask for help next time.
One more note, we went at 7pm on Friday and the place was 100% empty except for us. I know Spicy and Tasty gets the hype on this board but Little Pepper deserves some love too. Go check it out!
Little Pepper (Xiao La Jiao)
133-43 Roosevelt Avenue