Yet I must briefly mention Little Pepper, in College Point, Queens. For any Sichuan fan worthy of calling himself or herself a man or a woman, it's required eating. I must say, though, many of its dishes can be found in other good Sichuan restaurants in the City, and of comparable quality, too (Cafe China is one such place that matches Little Pepper in culinary worthiness).
Indeed, until last weekend, I may have told an eager but non-intrepid lover of Sichuan that a journey out to Little Pepper wasn't 100% necessary (granted, this person would lose man/woman self-reference rights). Now, however, the trip is required. This is for two reasons.
The first is a dish of cold chicken in spicy sauce, an amazingly savory sauce, if not especially spicy. The coldness of this chicken adds a refreshing element to this dish that was irresistible.
Reason two is fried potato in hot pepper, which is a genius Sichuan take on the classic french fry. "Ma la," the spicy and tingly one-two punch, works perfectly with the potato, which has always been a vegetable that is happy to take on whatever flavor is tossed its way. Thank you, mr. potato, for continuing your accepting ways.
College Point, Queens
*Robert Sietsema is one who doesn't seem to tire of writing about Sichuan, and that's probably for the best. However, in a rundown of some of the spicier items on the Little Pepper menu, he calls the hot & sour wontons "hot as hell." Really? The ones I had were hot as Montreal in winter, at best.