From June 2006 Cheap Eats
The message here is clear: Chilies rule. The little red peppers are all over this dirt-cheap Szechuan favorite--hanging behind the counter where you place your order, decorating the aprons worn by the waitstaff who deliver your food, and all over the menu, where a single pepper alerts diners that a dish is "hot and spicy" and a chili with a star signifies that it's "numbing."
Dim lighting and spartan surroundings matter less once the food arrives. Noodle soups, rich with bitter greens and beef or pork and blazing with a slick of red-chili oil, are feasts for one. You'll see families, many of them Chinese, passing larger plates of Szechuan string beans, eggplant with garlic, and flash-fried squid, scattered with garlic and more chilies. A whole steamed tilapia is terrific smothered in chilies and cabbage and just as good with a milder covering of scallions and ginger. The $12.50 price tag makes it feel like stealing.
There are plenty of foils for the heat--tender dumplings that hold minced pork, vegetable buns, warm chive pockets and scallion crepes, and crisp, cool salads of bamboo shoots and cucumber.