When I first tried this restaurant about 3 years ago, their store front had Chinese signage with just the word “Szechuan” identifying what kind of cuisine this restaurant serves to English speakers. However, the English name for this restaurant on their menus was “Cui Hua Lou.” Yet, the Chinese name of the restaurant is pronounced, “Shí Shàng Kǎo Ba,” meaning Eat on the Bar. Odd.
Nevertheless, this place has been churning out delicious dishes with complex flavors that come together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Some of the dishes do seem to be Sichuan: Water Boiled Fish, Spicy Lamb Stew, Cold Spicy Mung Bean Jelly, Ma Po Tofu, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken, to name a few. Yet, none of their dishes have too strong of a spicy kick to them, just enough to enhance the flavors of each dish. Perhaps that is drawn from the regional cooking where the owner and his family is from: Tianjin, a region/city located just southeast of Beijing, where they are known for their bold flavored foods, with an emphasis on seafood and lamb.
Let’s just say the combination of the two regions resulted in absolutely delicious food. So good, that one of my friends and I pretty much dine here at least once a month.
Stewed Lamb in Casserole with napa cabbage and mung bean vermicelli
Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Water Boiled Fish Filet
Kung Pao Shrimp
Cumin Dusted Lamb Skewers (buy 10, get 1 free, as is with all their skewer offerings)
Chicken Wing Skewers
Chicken Hearts and Shitake Mushroom Skewers (mushrooms are brushed with a mildly sweet glaze)
Pan Fried Shredded Potato in Vinegar
Stir Fried Napa Cabbage with Dried Shrimp (odd that they would have this Cantonese dish on the menu)
Sliced Pork Belly in Garlic Sauce
Cold Sour and Spicy Mung Bean Jelly Noodles
Tianjin Style Pancakes (think of them as Tianjin style English muffins)
Spicy Fish Hot Pot
Scallions with Noodles, with ground pork
Lamb in Szechuan Sauce
Ma Po Tofu (dusted with grounded Sichuan peppercorns, this one is a knock out!)
Kung Pao Shrimp
Shredded Pork with Cilantro (simple, yet delicious)
Pan Fried Corn