Spicy City

spicycity4690 Convoy St., yelp reviews

Another of my ill-timed culinary photos at right: note that there is nothing left that could be considered nutritive food.  That red lake did at some point contain cod – all happily ingested – but what’s left is more or less fragrant battery acid.  And what looks like a plate of red and green chopped veggies is in fact nothing but jalapeños of various colors which began as a nice bed for bacon and scallions.

Welcome to Spicy City, a restaurant true to its name.

Maybe it’s just how we ordered, but we did get quite a bit of very spicy food, most of it red: nature’s danger sign.  The Szechuan fish, excellent and copious, and the Ma Po Tofu were hot as hell, the “preserved meat” (bacon, by another name) was jalapeño-licious.  And some of the other dishes – chopped green beans and fried eggplant – were sparky in their own right.

Szechuan cuisine is unique, as far as I know, in using something called the Sichuan, or flower pepper.  This is a fragrant little peppercorn that is a touch piquant, but it’s surprise power is in numbing.  A dish liberally flavored with flower pepper leaves your lips and tongue tingling and numb – like a fun trip to the dentist.  About half of the dishes we ordered came with some amount of flower pepper, and the result – combined with all that spice, is a curious high.  I didn’t see God or anything, but I definitely left my body – and its crucified taste buds – and floated above the table for awhile in a nimbus of fraternal affection for my fellow eaters.

Like the now defunct foodie favorite Ba Ren, Spicy City has a glass case of cold dishes you can choose from and eat while you wait for the hot stuff. Top marks in the cold plates goes to the mustard greens and the noodley sea weed.  And apart from all the red stuff, we also ordered Dan Dan noodles – spicy and heavy with sesame oil – which some loved but I wasn’t crazy about, and a nice plate of garlic Chinese greens – no table should go without it.  My table-mates – some far more worldly in the ways of Szechuanese than myself – complained that one dish wasn’t as “floral” as expected, or another maybe too syrupy, and I think I could see, through the fog of spice, what they were getting at.  But everybody had a good meal and ate well.

To sum up: the food was great, reasonably priced, and came quick.  I’m probably more likely to go to Szechuan Chef or Spicy House than I am to come back here, but I’d be happy to revisit Spicy City with someone demanding the Full-Spice-Monty.  Yowza.

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