Update Oct 3, 2009: This restaurant has since shut down.
This is a small, not particularly noticeable Sze Chuan (Si Chuan) restaurant nestled in a little alcove on Buswell Street. If you know where Happy Date is, you can cross from Happy Date to the back and you’ll see it.
This is a gem of a place though. They do not have the prettiest decor and you may not feel the cleanest in here but they serve relatively cheap, good, authentic home-style food that’ll guarantee numb lips and tongue, but only if you’re adventurous and brave enough to request it. Obviously, I am not.
You can see that this is not a big restaurant at all. It looks empty but it is actually quite popular with the Mainland China population. This particular visit was within one hour of their closing time and was on a weeknight. Half an hour later a group of 7 came in and I felt bad for the owners!
On a side note, how authentic would a Chinese restaurant be without the quintessential spelling errors in their menu?? =)
We started with the Si Chuan 1st Pickles 天府泡菜. I would like to point out that anything you order here you can choose between “Little, Medium, or Big” Spicy. I always pick “Little” spicy obviously.
We almost always order this. There’s a very addictive spiciness mixed with a tinge of sweetness, saltiness and sourness. It’s hard to explain, you need to try it to know it. I love this.
My family loves this also. It is the Wontons in Chili Oil 紅油炒手. You need to mix and coat the wontons with the chili oil mixture before eating.
After mixing it looks like this. The combination of spices in the chili oil mixture makes this a very good snack. I could finish this myself. They make the wontons on the premises. I’ve seen them.
This is the main feature. I almost always want to come to this restaurant because I want this. This is the Si Chuan 1st Style DanDan Noodle 天府擔擔麵. This is Sze Chuan style with is different from the Shanghai style. This is a dry mixed noodle whereas Shanghai style is in a soup. However, both are based on a sesame/peanut sauce paste. This is very savory and yummy. It is quite a big portion also. Just make sure you have some breath mints after as there’s a big dollop of minced garlic right on top.
This time we decided to try something new also. We picked the Beef Sour & Chili Noodle 牛肉酸辣麵. It was surprisingly tasty. This is served hot and the soup is not at all like a Shanghai Hot and Sour Soup. The noodles were like green bean noodles in that they were really chewy, which I adore. However the beef were a bit tasteless and bland. There’s a variation of this with Minced Pork so we might try that next time. We will definitely order this again. Boyfriend couldn’t stop drinking the soup.
They have a pretty good lunch combo offered. It includes a variety of dishes which I’ve recommended. The English translations in order is 1) Wontons in Chicken Soup; 2) Si Chuan 1st Dumplings; 3) Si Chuan 1st Black Sesame Rice Balls (dessert); 4) Si Chuan 1st Style DanDan Noodle; 5) Ox Stomach & Lung Slices in Spicy Sauce; 6) Si Chuan 1st Pickles; 7) “Bring-your-senses-back” Congee (that’s my literal translation. It’s basically a plain congee, perhaps to dilute out the spiciness).
I remember I was allowed to change 1) to the Wontons in Chili Oil. Everything else is pretty good. However, this combo (“comboo” =) is really meant for 1 person as the portions come in the small individual rice bowls. If I have this one day I will take pictures and show you. For me though, this is more than enough food. I always have to share.
Anyways our total came to $25.35 before tax, which is not bad at all. We were stuffed.
This is one restaurant I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend.