Cheap Eats 2007: Sichuan Village

The sign outside says super buffet, and with its red paint job, beige tile floors, and long steam tables, Sichuan Village looks like one of the nondescript deli-buffets that dot New York City. But peek into the front dining room filled with Chinese expatriates and you’ll notice that nobody’s there for all-you-can-eat egg rolls. Order from the Szechuan menu, and you’ll find that this kitchen is one of Northern Virginia’s hidden gems.

Owners David Qin and Xiaorong Lu, who used to run the popular Formosa Cafe, hail from outside of Chengdu. If you ask, daughter Lilly will recommend dishes after gauging your tolerance for spice. She might steer you to street dumplings in blazing chili oil or mellower steamed dumplings filled with barbecued pork. Red Szechuan peppers, both dried and in oil, ignite a sauté of battered flounder and lush tofu. Just as addictive is the twice-cooked pork, with baconlike strips of pork first simmered then stir-fried with leeks and more chilies.

To cool your tongue, order a plate of bright-green bok choy with fragrant black mushrooms, or a few freshly fried “curlers,” long, savory doughnuts that call to mind American crullers.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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