Well I have good news for all you heat-masochists: TemptAsian Cafe is serving no-holds-barred, hot-as-hell, honest-to-goodness Szechuan dishes. <snip>
That having been said, I thought these dishes were pretty clumsy, and aside from the fact that they lit me on fire, I can't say I really enjoyed them. But I'm not writing this place off just yet - I'd love to hear other peoples' impressions about the Szechuan dishes here, and would definitely be willing to have another go at it.
Weighing in a bit late and having missed Jewish Christmas, I sort of made it up by having Chinese food to usher in and celebrate the new year. I agree with Don - it is Szechuan cooking here, but not on the caliber of (or as composed or poised as) Joe's or maybe Sichuan Pavilion, simply because it is a different type of homestyle-Szechuan cooking. It is, of course, still a good sign when most of the diners are Chinese, and minus the lovely older couple that was wrapping up before our table showed, it was mostly Chinese, with a company or tourist celebration of 15 folks, roaring up a storm to ring in the new year.
2 appetizers and 3 dishes later, the total bill only came to around $50 or a little more for a party of four (including gelittleman), which is great, given the amount of food taken to be enjoyed as leftovers.
Be sure to try the specials on the chalkboard when dining in, even though there are some great dishes on the regular menu.
The server was really wonderful with gelittleman and served him immediately a bowl of egg drop soup
to start with. When the scallion pancakes
came out, the little man was very innovative in using this deep-fried, puff-ball version as a little bread bowl; or maybe as a substitute for those crunchy, deep-fried noodle-crisps served with soups. I can't say I am a fan of their version of scallion pancakes, having grown up with my grandmom's style. The other appetizer ordered was steamed dumplings
, ordered for friends, and as a back-up for the little man, as 2 of the dishes ordered were spicy-hot. I don't recommend the dumplings here, as the dough was super-thick, but had a strange texture and flavor to it.
The fave of the evening seemed to be the fish with diced peppers
. Cooked with different varieties of mini-peppers, the dish was so hot and sinus-cleansing that the tofu paired with the fish fillets could not cool your tongue. Even fans of spicy foods at this table declared it super-hot, but flavorful and satisfying.
At Szechuan restaurants, I usually like trying their version of the smoke tea duck
, as this is a provincial specialty. Served at room temperature, this version was not too salty compared to some of the other places I have tried, and also not too dried out. Although it did not have a strong smoke-flavor to it, I felt it had a nice balance of little-smokiness to its crispy skin and moist duck meat. Gelittleman liked it enough to have 2 or 3 pieces of it.
The rice here is not stellar, so if you are ordering carry out, I suggest to make your own to go with the meal.
On the comforting front, but also hot (but not too spicy hot) and soothing was from the chalkboard. The lamb with goji berries
was a soup, with cilantro and big slices of daikon (it was cut in rectangular slices). Eating the daikon slices alone would warm you up, but even more so after a bite of the lamb + goji berries. A bowl of this soup after eating all the other dishes would be a great way to end the evening.
I think this place is worth checking back every once in awhile, just to "have another go at it."