I’ve been reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China and loving it. It’s one of those books that I don’t want to finish, so I’ve been reading it increasingly slowly as I approach the end. Dunlop learned to cook Chinese cuisine in Chengdu and so natrually, her favored style of cooking is Sichuanese. Reading about the Sichuan peppercorn reminds me of Little Sichuan, an unassuming Chinese restaurant in San Mateo that I visit every few months or so.
Every meal at Little Sichuan begins with complementary bowls of spicy Sichuanese pickles and boiled peanuts. I love the pickles - they’re salty, sour, spicy and laced with chile oil. They’re fun to nibble on while I peruse the (very long) menu, though after several visits, I still haven’t found a dish that really stands out.
On my last visit, A friend and I ordered the dry-fried chicken and sizzling rice beef. The beef was a dissapointment - the sauce was bland and the rice almost instantly became soggy. The chicken, on the other hand, was well-prepared and tongue-numbingly spicy. (A little too spicy for my taste, though.
Little Sichuan remains a restaurant that I’ll probably keep on visiting every few months or so, when the craving strikes. I just wish I could find a dish or two that’s evocative of the descriptions in Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper.