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Restaurants & Bars 43

Sichuan Pavilion: a new find in Rockville

deangold | Aug 3, 200912:15 PM

I was alerted to the opening of this place by Good Eats on a DR.Com thread. But she only reported a Chinese language review and had not eaten there herself.

410 Hungerford Drive
although it is around back and does not face or can be seen from Hungerford.

Went today for a 1pm lunch to find a sparkly place all bright in yellow and whites. There are two menus given out. the American Chinese menu and the Authentic Chinese Menu. The paper take home menu is filled with items from the Authentic menu. I feasted today:

#21 under small plates: Crispy Fungus & Pickled Peppers Salad. I have had this dish at Hong Kong Palace, Joe's and here int he past few weeks. The clear winner is this version. The wood ears are crispy as advertised and actually have flavor. The pickled peppers are nicely hot without a lot of burn and well vinagered. There is just enough garlic & ginger for flavor interest without too much. Great dish! The dish was noticably hot & spicy.

I ordered #28 small plates (each section is numbered starting at #1) Sichuan Mixed Pickled Vegetables but I think I got Sweet & Sour Spicy Cabbage Salad which is #25. Again, this was a home run! Where most version of this dish emphasize the sweet, here the sweet and sour are in perfect balance with spicy casting the tie breaking vote. WOW! There was a goodly kick of spice.

For an entree I ordered Pork #21: Bacon. sausage and dried bean curd with green peppers. This was a plate to behold: green chiles and green peppercorn, leegs, slivered pieced of pressed dry tofu, very fattty house smoked (at least it tasted like house smoked) bacon, what looked like smoked tongue slices and little sweet and tangy sausages all in a stir fry with just an oily residue at the bottom of the plate. All the flavorings were cook into the ingredients. Oh, lest I forget the final touch, loads of slices of garlic cooked to that perfect point where hot turns to sweet and yet its neither. This is a dish that harkens back to Brandy Ho's and Henry's Hunan of San Francisco at their best and stands tall. The waitress was concerned that it was spicy enough for me so she brought the hot chile flakes in oil that are part of htis dish for extra heat, which I partook of half way thru.

By now, I was pleasantly full but I thought what about my report of this meal? How could I not have a ma la dish to speak of? So strictly in the interest of science and journalistic completeness, I ordered Dan Dan noodles. What I got was a small dish of pretty plain boiled noodles topped with a bit of stir fried pork in a dark mode. The noodles needed white pepper & salt. Then I added a drop or two of white vinegar and mixed the noodles with the oil at the bottom of the bowl. The second bight went from the monochromatic ringtone on a cheap cell phone playing the Ride of the Valkyries to Furtwangler's version with the Viena Philharmonic {look it up on you tube!}. My self sacrifice, not to mention full tummy, are a small price to play for the delight offered by this $3.95 dish! Layers of flavor from a full dose of sichuan peppercorns, the porkyness of the bits of mystery meat, the mashed garlic & ginger in the sauce and thr fire added by either Mime the God of Fire or by a healthy slash of chile flakes fried in oil. The burn is now a pleasant glow nearly an hour after eating. When the bowl was empty, the bowl was characteristic of properly made Sichuan: nothing identifiable as a sauce, just a slick of oil because all the sauce like elements were cook into the ingredients allowing the oil to separate and run off.

Joe's, Hong Kong Palace are both very fine and I have been happy investigating their wondersful menus. But here is a new comer to the scene (open two weeks) that merits further research!

Enough food for two normal appetites was $21.00!

There was an incredible looking/smelling pork #10: pork & crispy rice cake served in sweet & sour sauce that the waitress insisted I try next time! The smell was redolent with vinegar & spice and the burning toastiness of perfectly cooked rice crusts.

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