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Mala Sichuan Bistro, Owner Cori Xiong and Heng Chen's Szechuan Mini-Chain in Chinatown and Montrose

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With my wife and older boy out seeing the Astros take on the Rangers, I turned to take out for dinner tonight, and ordered from the Montrose location of Mala Sichuan Bistro.  I went with my standard szechuan restaurant benchmark order of ma po tofu, cucumber with chili oil, and a noodle of some sort (typically dan dan mien, but I went with cold "funky noodles" from Mala).  I am pleased to report that Mala is, as the kids say, legit.  The ma po was spicy and numbing, but not overwhelmingly so.  The funk of the broad bean paste was there, without the overwhelming saltiness I've experienced at other places.  I stayed vegetarian tonight, but they do offer it with ground beef.  The cucumbers were fresh and crisp, topped with a nice balance of chili oil and crumbled szechuan peppercorns.  I think next time I'll try the version in garlic oil to add some variation to the flavors.  The cold noodles were similar to Chengdu cold noodles, and a great version of them at that.  The noodles were nicely cooked, with a good bit of residual bite, and nicely coated with the sauce as opposed to sitting undressed on a ladle-ful of sauce on the bottom of the bowl.

There will be plenty of time to explore the legion of amazing holes in the wall in Chinatown, but for now, I'm glad to have found a more-than-solid joint close by.

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