Lao Sze Chuan is possibly one of the best Chinese restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of dining in in the last year.
In my time eating in American restaurants, I rarely encountered offal meats – the internal organs, and discarded parts of the butchered animal. According toe Wikipedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offal#United_States) the American South uses more offal. Rocky Mountain oysters (or bull testicles), are also a delicacy in Western US. It’s much more common in Chinese cooking.
Seeing “Pig Ear Szechuan Style” (4.75/5) (dish A02) warmed my heart. Offal bodes well for the authenticity of a Chinese restaurant (maybe non-Cantonese). Tender cartilage in spicy red oil. Wonderful crunch of harder cartilage bits.
Mapo Tofu (4/5) (dish 609) was very spicy. Pairs well with rice.
The only bum note for me was Chili Eggplant (2/5) (dish 633). It was an odd mix of sour and spicy, that left a persistent sour taste in my mouth after eating a slice or two.
For dessert, black rice congee (4.25/5) (dish 901) has lotus seeds (those crunchy white kernels called baiguo), black rice in a cloyingly sweet soup. Recommended. In Singapore we have a very close descendant, pulot hitam – which you get when you add a lot of coconut milk.
Lao Sze Chuan is a great addition to Chinese food in America. Even in New York City, I haven’t had this type of Chinese food. Head there if you’re in Chicago!