Saturday, May 28, 2011

Great Wall Szechuan House - Mid City

Great Wall Szechuan House is the other Sichuan place in the District, and while it doesn't have the same breadth of dishes that Sichuan Pavilion has, it still manages to punch far above its weight class. This place, for all intents and purposes, is a carryout. From what I heard, it was only about three or four years ago that they removed the bulletproof plexiglass from their counter. And, it is still very much a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. When you look at the menu, the fast majority of it covers the typical carryout standards: General Tso's, Egg Foo Young, Lo Mein, and fried chicken wings. However, in a little corner of the menu is a box labeled "Ma-La," and these dishes are why people come here.

For those who don't know, "ma-la" refers to the numbing sensation one gets when eating dishes spiced with Sichuan peppercorn. Sichuan cuisine is indeed spicy, but the numbness one feels is what truly sets this particular cuisine apart from all other Chinese culinary traditions. And you get ma-la in spades when you order the Mapo Dofu, a tofu dishes that is smothered in ground pork, an oily hot sauce, and enough Sichuan peppercorn to numb your mouth, you can get a root canal afterwards without taking any Novocaine. A milder dish, the twice-cooked pork, is also excellent. It is essentially sliced pork belly seasoned with peppery spices (but be sure to order it off the ma-la menu and not the version in the Americanized portion of the menu). I also have heard rumors that you can order off-the-menu entrees, (like the Sichuan hot pot) if you call in advance.

In sum, Great Wall is great place to go if you need a ma-la fix without wanting to travel to hinterlands of Virginia and Maryland. It is unfussy, simple food, but sometimes that is a good thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment