Xiao La Jiao shows its Sichuan chops in its aromatic, powerfully seasoned lamb with hot and spicy sauce. “Absolutely excellent,” promises JMF–juicy, tasty meat covered in a paste of cumin, chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns, delivering “just the right heat, spice, and tingle.” Braised sliced fish in spicy soup base is another knockout: firm, very fresh fish with vegetables in a complex broth, topped with a sheen of chile-Sichuan pepper oil.
Also recommended at this newish Flushing restaurant: crust of cooked rice with pork. Tender sauteed meat in a deep, nuanced sauce is poured over freshly fried rice cakes, which sets off a racket of sizzling and popping. Don’t miss brightly flavored small dishes, like kelp in garlic sauce, spiced Sichuan peanuts, and spicy, sesame-scented bamboo shoots.
It’s hard to discuss New York Sichuan without considering board favorite Spicy and Tasty, just a block away. Xiao La Jiao appears to measure up. JMF declares that the newcomer is flat-out better. For joekarten, it’s just as good but different, “a bit less elegant and a bit bolder, maybe more rough-hewn in presentation and palate.” And at least for now, he adds, it charges much less for much larger portions.
Meanwhile, Spicy and Tasty hasn’t lost a step. Current chowhound favorites include eggplant with garlic sauce, cold beef stomach in spicy oil, shredded dry bean curd with celery, and squid with pickled turnip in spicy sauce. Also, fiery yet multidimensional shredded pork in fresh hot pepper, “one of the best Sichuan dishes I’ve ever had,” writes Brian S. “The waiter grimaced as if it were so spicy it was hurting him through the plate.”
Xiao La Jiao, a.k.a. Little Pepper [Flushing]
133-43 Roosevelt Ave., between Prince St. and College Point Blvd., Flushing, Queens
Spicy and Tasty [Flushing]
39-07 Prince St., between Roosevelt and 39th Aves., Flushing, Queens