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Sichuan Chili chowdown report, San Jose

mdg | Apr 23, 2015 09:27 PM

Six hounds and son gathered at Sichuan Chili tonight for a chowdown at 1600 South De Anza in San Jose. Sichuan Chili is the successor to Chef Ma in San Jose. The chef cooked at Chef Ma before, and our server was the owner, in a husband and wife team.

We ordered:

- Beef and tripe strips in chili sauce (husband and wife)
- Chicken in chili sauce (saliva / mouthwatering chicken)
- Dan dan noodles
- Rattan pepper with lamb stew
- Leek with twice-cooked Chinese bacon
- Dry-sauteed string beans
- Chinese loofah with dried shrimp
- Chinese sausage
- Pickled pepper with fish
- Chengdu dumplings

The food was very flavorful, with lots of differences between dishes. Overall the food was not as overwhelmingly ma la spicy as dishes at other places like Chef Zhao, but some dishes like the lamb stew had a good kick to them.

I think my favorites were pretty close to the group consensus. The rattan pepper with lamb stew was my number one favorite for the complexity of delicious flavors in the broth, coupled with excellent lamb slices. I don't know what rattan pepper is, but I'd like to learn more. The pickled pepper dishes are a specialty of the the restaurant and for good reason; this was another wonderful dish. The dry-sauteed string beans were a classic rendition. The Chengdu dumplings were very nice; the corn in the filling was a new variation for me.

The less popular dishes (judging by what was left over) were the leek with twice-cooked Chinese bacon and the Chinese loofah with dried shrimp. I liked both of these but not as well as the others. The dan dan noodles were a less spicy rendition than I remember from Chef Ma, but still good.

I really do need to get back to this place - that's what I said about Chef Ma, but with the odd shopping center food court location I didn't do that. The food here is worth it. It's a bit lighter hand overall that some places but lots of great flavors with dishes I haven't seen elsewhere. Highly recommended!

Afterwards we repaired to a snow ice / shaved ice place in the same mall. I'm not a big Asian dessert fan so I'll let others report on that as I have little frame of reference for description or comparisons.

Thanks so much to Melanie for organizing this and for the great company in this most enjoyable dinner!

Michael

Chef Zhao Bistro,
Chef Zhao Bistro 老赵川菜
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