Since discovering Cuisine Szechuan in 2009, my shadow has graced their doorway an alarming number of times (impossible to say for sure, but it’s probably into the triple digits).
As I (with the help of my boyfriend and many of my more spice-tolerant friends) have worked my way through the impressive menu, my affection for this fine establishment has grown ever stronger. The green beans deserve an ode to themselves – crisp and resplendent, scattered with salty morsels of minced pork, pungent garlic, and dried chillies. Then there’s the tender chilly beef, inundated with the same ubiquitous red chillies and my beloved, magical Szechuan peppercorns. Or the fish in tofu flower broth (#102) which arrives in an impressively large white tureen and melts into a cloud of piquancy when you eat it. And how could I could forget the Szechuan cabbage (#50), with its imitable wok hai – that extraordinary phenomenon achieved through high heat and proper execution? All of these, of course, ordered (to the staff’s dismay) extra spicy, and without rice, thanks. (I’m aware that this is not the way this food was meant to be eaten, but I’m not ashamed to rebel.)
I’ve lately been forsaking my Szechuan infatuation in favour of “healthier” meals at home that aren’t doused in quite as much vegetable oil, but accompanied some friends there tonight for a long-overdue dose of flavour. Although I will reluctantly concede that the sheer brilliance of CS has seen a slight decline in recent months, it’s still one of the most intensely tasty meals I can imagine in this city. The chef, who always comes over to ask how everything is when he spots us devouring his creations, is a true professional who is sincerely devoted to his craft – he’s just, sadly, not always there.
I will conclude this ode by re-affirming my undying love for Cuisine Szechuan and wondering, as always, if it would be insane to go back tomorrow for lunch.