• 03Jan

     

    Sichuan Pavilion has long been a favorite of mine for spicy, delicious Chinese cuisine. It had been about a year since I’d been, until recently, when I went twice in one week. I forgot how much I loved it!

    Located on K Street in Farragut, it’s easily accessible. The menu offers a variety of dishes, so you can take your friends who still consider General Tso’s to be good Chinese cuisine. The service is always professional, and while the dining area tends to be a bit crowded, the decor is quite nice.

    Wonton Soup

    I tried the Wonton Soup for the first time, and found both the broth and dumplings flavorful. The Dumplings in Sichuan sauce are well-filled with pork and the sauce is not mouth-numbing hot, but has a nice kick. The Ma Po Tofu has a rich, spicy sauce and the tofu is soft and pillowy. The portion is huge, too.

    However, my all-time favorite Sichuan Pavilion dish is the Tea-smoked Duck. The duck is beautiful, with a nice layer of fat and crispy skin, and a truly smoky flavor. I could just eat the duck, but I usually give in and add the duck, vegetables, and plum sauce to the bao wrappers. But even alone, the duck is amazing. It also works well for takeout or as leftovers.

    I’ve also had the Polynesian drinks here, most recently the Suffering Bastard. The drinks are potent and reasonably priced, though there was no discernible difference between my drink and a friend’s Mai Tai.

    I’m always happy to see that Sichuan Pavilion is still popular and that the food is still as good as I remember it.

    -LEM (Lia)

  • 21Jul

    A few months ago, JAY wrote an article on the opening of a new Sichuan restaurant called Mala Tang, located in Arlington.  Upon his recommendation, I went there for dinner a couple weeks ago.  The restaurant validates parking, so feel free to use the parking garage if you drive in.  The inside of the restaurant consists of a U-shaped dining space with a central bar.  Mala Tang does have outdoor seating as well, but the hostess told me they weren’t doing hot pots outside on the night I visited.  I’m not sure if that meant they never do, or if some issue prevented it on the night in question.  About ¾ of the tables were full when I arrived, and it only got busier.

    After looking at the menu, I decided on chrysanthemum tea and a hot pot.  They offer two levels of spiciness for the broth: mala or mild, and I chose mala.  I’m a fan of spicy food, but I dislike having what feels like a nuclear reaction in my mouth.  Mala turned out to be the perfect choice.  The level of heat in the broth was exactly what I look for in a dish labeled as “spicy.”  A few chiles and pieces of scallions were floating on the broth when it arrived at the table.  A thin film of red chile oil washed over the spices.  With the hot pot came 1 small and 3 tiny bowls.  The small bowl contained house-made soy sauce, which tasted amazing all by itself.  The tiny bowls had slices of a miniature green hot chile, Chinese barbecue sauce, and spicy bean paste.  The server who brought my food told me to mix the contents of the tiny bowls with the soy sauce according to my preference.  After trying each, I added the barbecue sauce and bean paste to the small bowl.  The green chile proved a too hot for my taste.

    While I was busy customizing my soy sauce, the server was placing trays of food on the table.  I ordered chicken, bamboo shoots, button mushrooms, and house-made noodles to go with the hot pot.  I didn’t realize that rice came with the hot pot, hence the noodles.  All the food came thinly sliced and there was a ton of it.  Really, it was enough for three people.  The flavor the broth imparted on the food was spicy, but almost floral.  The soy sauce was less spicy, but with almost a garlicky taste.  Oddly enough, both went very well with my tea.  Bright yellow, it tasted delicately floral with a peppery note at the finish.  The selection of meats is fairly standard, but they also offer a variety of seafood.  The vegetable list encompasses familiar (potato) and strange (lotus root) choices.  If you visit Mala Tang, I have two suggestions: 1) bring someone to share the food and 2) try at least one vegetable that you’re not familiar with.

    -TKW

    Editor’s note (JAY):

    I’m hosting the September Food Blogger Happy Hour at Mala Tang on September 7th.

     

    [ad]

  • 28Apr

    Chef Liu having lunch at Mala Tang.

    Chef Liu Chaosheng (of Hong Kong Palace) is launching Mala Tang, a Sichuan hot pot restaurant Monday.  While the restaurant’s soft opening is on Monday, I was lucky enough to try a few of the Xiao Chi (small plates) today.

    The spicy wontons (ground pork, house made soy sauce, mapo tofu) topped with ground pork, and cold spicy dried beef (with sesame seeds and ground Sichuan peppercorns) were excellent, and had the fragrant and floral spiciness associated with authentic Sichuan cuisine.  I’ve had all of these dishes before, but even if I hadn’t, I’d be able to tell that they are very good and very authentic.   Really, who else makes their own soy sauce and tofu?

    I NEED to try the hot pot and dan dan noodles next time.  The restaurant has individual burners set up, since they thought it would be more friendly to an American audience than one large hot pot per table.  I’m fine either way, but I have really good memories of a long gone Queens Sichuan restaurant (Lion Pavilion) that had amazing dan dan noodles, and I’m hoping Mala Tang’s are as good.  I’d settle for half as good, if I hadn’t already tried some of Mala Tang’s food.  Everything I tried at Mala Tang was delicious so I have high expectations for future visits.

    -JAY

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