Damn it I love Chinese food! Especially when it’s authentic, passed-down-through-generations, can’t-read-the-menu-on-the-wall-because-it’s-not-English, family recipe kind of Chinese food! And that’s exactly what it feels like to eat at Little Sichuan. What’s even better is that this place has all sorts of unusual and weird foods, which I love and as a self-appointed Gastroventurers I couldn’t resist giving this place a try. So, I enlisted three of my fellow hungry adventurers and we headed north.
Little Sichuan is located at 240 Legacy Drive in Plano, Texas… across the street from a mega-church. Here are a few helpful links to take a look at before you give it a try:
The style of cuisine at Little Sichuan is obviously Sichuanese, so you have to at least try one dish that contain the mystical, tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper, but we’ll get to that later.
Before we get started I have a few weird eating rules of thumb, that I would like to share:
- Always befriend the staff, they are your guide to the off menu items and usually love sharing their culture and food.
- “Weird” is a relative term, so please never disrespect the “host” by making strange faces or noises as the item arrives or is consumed.
- Lastly, try and mix in a few regular food items that you know you will enjoy with the weird foods to ensure you have a fun experience no matter what.
Ok now that I have bored you all with that, here is the story of our adventure…
Ox Tongue and Tripe with Roasted Chili-Peanut Vinaigrette
This is a cold appetizer that incorporates thin tender slices of ox tongue, tripe, cilantro and sesame seeds with a deliciously spicy chili peanut vinaigrette. Trust me when I say that this dish did not last long on the table. The vinaigrette was so good we even saved the leftovers to try on some of the other dishes.
General Tsao’s Chicken
We went pretty normal on this one, but we were all still pretty amazed. This is one of the best General Tsao dishes I’ve had in DFW. The sauce is more sweet than spicy; but it was eat-with-a-spoon worthy.
Ma Po Tofu
I have to admit, as an unapologetic carnivore I wasn’t jumping at the chance to eat tofu, but as one of the traditional dishes of the regions(1) I had to try it. Besides, we’re adventurers right? So, I gave it a go and although it wasn’t my favorite dish of the night, it was very good. The tofu was flavorful and silky soft. The most unique part of the experience is the flavor and tongue numbing effect of the, previously banned in the USA, Sichuan pepper (2). It has a slight numbing effect, which can be unsettling if you’re not used to it, but in this dish it was very mild.
1Ma Po Tofu History – Very interesting, if you’re bored or curious or both!
Pork Bung and Blood Cake in Chili Broth
What’s pork bung you ask? Well, let’s go to the chart:
Keep going… further… a little more…. Yup… there it is and since it is where it is, it has a much stronger “flavor” than tripe. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is… you’ll need to put your big boy/girl pants on for this one.
Sadly, I must have left mine at home, because this was a rough one for me. I have tangled and lost with pig innards in the past and this was no exception.
The dish came in a well presented silver boiling bowl/pot, which has its own flame to keep the dish hot. The broth is soothing and spicy, while the blood cake (a cubed Jello like ingredient) has a surprising and unusual flavor that, although you feel wrong for eating it, you keep looking around for witnesses, then go in for more.
As for the Bung… Awww yes the Bung. Well, let’s just say I had to work extremely hard to not break rule number 2. I even had to crack a smile as the lady from the kitchen who brought it, joyfully commented, “Now you’re eating real Chinese!” She then stood there to watch me take the first bite. It’s a very complex dish and as I’ve said before, I’ve had my challenges with swine tubing. So, I would recommend giving pork dung… I mean pork bung a try for yourself before making up your own minds. But, always remember rule number 2. Besides, you’ve probably had pork bung before without even knowing it. Salami anyone?
Fried Fish in Chili Sauce
This is where befriending the staff pays off. This is an off menu dish and was part of the Chinese whiteboard menu of specials that sit near the kitchen. It’s only available on weekends, so if you find yourself at Little Sichuan on a Saturday or Sunday ask if they have it.
Our waiter was very gracious in recommending it and spent a few minutes describing the preparation process. I did my best to keep up, but my A.D.D. kicked in, and it wasn’t long before my brain started thinking about how I was going to master this damn Gangnam style dance. But, from what I picked up, it’s a fried whole fish that isn’t crispy. That’s because after being fried in chili oil, it’s boiled with more chilis and spices until the meat just wants to fall off the bone.
The whole fish arrives beautifully in a bed of tasty, plate licking sauce. Although you will have to watch out for some small bones (as with all whole fish dishes), this is a must try.
Lot’s more to try here, but there was just no more room in our happy bellies. On to the next one…
***After your meal, take a stroll next door to the giant Asian super market. There is a lot to see and try. Get some Green Tea Mochi. Let’s just say that if someone slapped me in the face and then handed me some Green Tea Mochi, I’d thank them and ask for another.
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