Cheap Eats 2011: Hong Kong Palace

The small dining room is on the plain side, but smiling servers and well-executed Szechuan cuisine make up for that. Good starts to the meal include pork-filled, chili-oil-slicked spring dumplings and a simple dish of cold cucumber with cilantro. For those who want to taste the famously numbing heat of the ma la peppercorn blend, try the creamy cubes of ma po tofu swimming in a chili sauce. Pork with crunchy cucumber and seaweed-like mushrooms is good for those who shy away from spice, while bright-purple and still-crunchy eggplant with a ginger-spiked chili sauce will please vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Ask servers to translate specials on the wall and you may be rewarded with something that wows you, such as a dish of chicken with fried chili peppers stuffed with a sesame-seed paste.

Also good: Dan-dan noodles; fish-and-pickled-vegetable soup; Kung Pao chicken; dessert of sesame balls with bean paste.

Open daily for lunch and dinner.

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