At first glance, the tiny strip the restaurant is in isn’t compelling unless you’re into anime, need to rent a tuxedo, print a few signs or get a touch up on your Shellac. Not quite in the corner lot of this string of random shops sits Sichuan House, inside the former 4 Star Chinese Cuisine. Once inside, Sichuan House is a whole other story. Instead of tossing red lanterns every which way, Sichuan chooses demure décor and lets the food handle the rest. And boy does it.
My visits — and at this point there have been plenty — usually consist of bringing in one other person. This is by far my biggest mistake.
Technically, Sichuan House was a recommendation itself from the folks at Hot Joy, who also pointed me in the direction of Kung Fu Noodle, a wee little joint off Bandera that delivers with fresh house-made noodles and dumplings. But instead of home-cooked Anhui province dishes, Sichuan House delivers regional favorites hailing from Sichuan, found in the southwest of China. The menu is a bit daunting, because unlike Kung Fu Noodle where there are maybe 10 things available to choose from, this one features several dozen items. Just when I was getting acquainted with the first menu, a page-worth of new winter items made an appearance.
All said, the absolute emperor at this feast was silky, meltingly tender eggplant, simply adorned with chile flakes and garlic.
My visits — and at this point there have been plenty — usually consist of bringing in one other person. This is by far my biggest mistake. Sichuan House should be enjoyed with several friends because dishes are all served family style. This runs the gamut from the 32-ounce soups to tofu in fermented bean sauce. It’s hard to beat a mix of soft tofu cubes, leafy napa cabbage and glass noodles floating in a light, fragrant chicken broth. The soup is more than enough for two but really could use a third slurper.
Try the shrimp and tofu (comfort food at its finest), the tea-smoked duck (which calls for both hands and definitely a side of the hot chili oil) and the scallions (tossed with cumin lamb).
All were noteworthy and delicious, but menu highlights definitely included the recommended dongpo braised pork belly that’s marinated, deep-fried, cubed and steamed. The end result is sweet, tender and a must-try.