Mon-Fri, 11am-10:30pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-11pm
B, D at Grand St.
State St. to Houston St., FDR Dr. to West St.
In a direct rejoinder to the megapopular Joe's Shanghai across the street, Famous Sichuan claims to be the only authentic Sichuan-style restaurant remaining in Chinatown, with the bonus of not having its neighbor's crowds. Inside, the decor is typically modest but pleasant, with pink tablecloths and walls lined with lacquered plywood planks. By "authentic," the restaurant also means mind-blurringly spicy. Cold appetizers make use of Sichuan peppercorns, the tiny and tingly spice agent that is the hallmark of this style cuisine: beef tendon, sliced paper thin and coated with a red-chili paste, is an exotic and sound choice, as are harmless-looking but fiery-hot chilled noodles in sesame sauce. The spiciness numbs, then strangely heightens, your taste, refreshing the palate with each bite. Side dishes like the sautéed string beans with minced pork become especially delectable, as do the Sichuan-style cucumbers in a salty and slippery glaze. The latter are addictive, but don’t eat them all at once; they’re handy as a cooling agent when entrées arrive, many of which are see-through-time spicy. Ignore the clearly labeled American-Chinese dishes, and instead opt for an extensive list of chef's specialties. Lamb in cumin sauce is particularly satisfying, with a taste as direct as its name.Recommended Dishes
Sliced beef tendon with chili sauce, $8.95; braised fish filet and Napa cabbage with roasted chili, $17.95; lamb with cumin sauce, $19.95