Hi! I'm a long-time Chow lurker who just moved to the Seattle area from Dallas.
My favorite Sichuan restaurants in Texas—Sichuanese Cuisine in Plano (owned by the same people who run the ID and Redmond locations here) and Mala Sichuan Bistro in Houston—used whole, high-quality peppercorns. Their mala dishes were loaded with large, seedless, explosively glorious huajiao that would leave me salivating.
Fast-forward to today, and I'm very disappointed in the Sichuan food around here. For some reason, Seattle restaurants seem to be extremely stingy with the huajiao: most of the time I can't even tell it's there, and when I (barely) can, it's powdered rather than whole. I have so far been to:
* Spiced (Bellevue),
* Shu Yi (Bellevue),
* Little Garden (Bellevue),
* Bamboo Garden (Bellevue),
* Sichuanese Cuisine (Redmond),
* Sichuanese Cuisine (ID), and
* Seven Stars Pepper (ID).
Out of all the above, I've only encountered whole huajiao at Shu Yi, and the peppercorns were tiny, full of seeds, and extremely weak.
I've found old posts that referenced whole peppercorns being used at a couple of the restaurants on my list, but I can attest that they no longer do—not on any of my visits, anyway.
Does anybody know of a Sichuan restaurant in the Seattle area that uses whole peppercorns, high-quality ones, and is not stingy as hell with them?
Thank you guys in advance! I look forward to being part of the community.