Sichuan cuisine is known for its use of lip-numbing Sichuan peppercorns and perspiration-inducing chili pepper heat, but it's so much more than that. Well-executed Sichuan food features many nuanced flavors. At Szechuan Impression, nostalgia for home-style cooking pairs with trained chef technique in dishes ranging from fiery spiciness to those with more subtlety. Illustrating this best are two dishes from the Sichuan city of Leshan: bobo chicken, skewered chicken bits and offal served in a vat of spicy, chili pepper–laden chicken broth; and qiao-jiao beef combination soup, a mild, milky-looking broth with brisket, tripe, braised turnip, scallions and cilantro. There are fish filets in red oil, or with green pepper, the latter showcasing the citrusy note of the Sichuan peppercorns. Yes, the menu includes mapo tofu, kung pao chicken (served here in traditional form) and wontons in chili oil. But the real joys are found digging deeper, for dishes such as ginger frog, or rabbit and “potato strips on street corner” — slightly crunchy, crinkle-cut fries dusted with chili powder, fresh chili peppers and peppercorns, perhaps the best version of fries I've had.
Credit: Anne Fishbein