After living in my apartment building for over two years, I finally met a neighbor. And not just any neighbor; my dream neighbor. Super neighbor, if you will. M is currently a baker, freelance food writer and cookbook reviewer. In her past life, she’s was a travel writer and a chef on a private Alaskan yacht (she’s going to teach me how to make gravlax)! M and I started talking and discovered we had a lot in common. Okay, maybe not a lot… more like one major thing: food. We decided it was high time we got to know each other, so we picked a date for dinner. She suggested Sichuanese Cuisine, which was perfect because I had been meaning to try their hot-pot, which my friend John highly recommends (and by recommends, I mean keeps pestering me to try because he claims it’s the best hot-pot in the city).

Since Zach and I had never eaten at Sichuanese Cuisine before, we let M order for us. I was a little disappointed when M didn’t order hot-pot—and to make matters worse, my friend John walked in just after we did so I was nervous he’d lecture me for not heeding his recommendation. But as it turned out, this was the best Sichuan food I’ve ever tasted, and I will be hard-pressed to order the hot-pot in the future. Not because it didn’t look good, but because the other food was so fantastic. I was stuffed by the end of the night and was amazed that our bill came to $40 (including tip!) for four people.

Sichuanese Ravioli – Tiny, steamed pork and shrimp wontons in a mild pepper sauce. The filling was flavorful and the noodle was perfectly tender.

Pork with Bitter Melon – This is probably an acquired taste for many people, because bitter melon is truly bitter. I happen to love it and thought this dish was fantastic—very bitter slices of melon interspersed with shreds of highly seasoned and delicate, sweet pork.

Dry-Cooked Chicken with String Beans – Even though I flipped out over the pork with bitter melon, this dish was even better. I think this will be the dish I have to order every time—and I may order two of them. The chicken was little chunks of lightly breaded, fried chicken in a black bean sauce and the string beans were spicy and sautéed until perfect and wrinkly.

Chinese Greens – I guess this dish changes seasonally and this day it was tender pea shoots sautéed in a flavorful broth with lots of garlic. Normally I only eat greens because I’m supposed to, but in this case I ate them because they tasted good.

Steamed Rockfish – This was very good, but the least exciting of everything we tasted, probably because I make a similar dish at home a lot. The fish was steamed, then topped with a little soy and oil and tons of fresh ginger.

The pictures came out really weird because we were sitting near the window and everything was backlit with blue neon…
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