When dealing with different cuisines, we often take the tourist approach in experiencing it. For example, it is so easy to say Sweet & Sour Pork is a Chinese dish. Yes it is (even though some thing it is purely a North American belief), but it is from Cantonese cuisine. Even worse, places like PF Chang's is often grouped into the same category. Sure, it'll make some people cringe, yet we can't assume everyone really wants "real" Chinese food anyways. Take Szechuan cuisine for instance. Many assume by adding some chilis into a dish makes it Szechuan. How about throwing in lots of chili, a handful of Szechuan peppercorns and enough chili oil to make the Exxon Valdez spill look like a puddle. At first glance, Lucky Star (formerly Capitol Hill Szechuan) didn't look promising, but hey, we had to try it to see for ourselves!
Arriving in a familiar large pot, the Szechuan Seafood Hot Pot looked legit with the aforementioned chili oil slick and Szechuan peppercorns. We asked for it to be less spicy and it was. However, there was still a pleasant heat level which is a hallmark of authentic Szechuan cuisine. The large pieces of fish were moist and flaky while the shrimp had a nice snap. I found the squid to be somewhat chewy and well, the imitation crab was imitation crab (we could've done without that). The Cumin Lamb was mildly spicy with an obvious cumin hit. The thin slices of lamb were somewhat dry, yet relatively tender. In my opinion, there was far too much filler in the form of onions and peppers though.
Although the Stir-Fried Pea Tips were prepared properly with a good amount of garlic, the tips themselves were chewy. It wasn't because they were old, rather, the stems were not cut in the right place. The result was inedible stems, much like you'd find on improperly cut asparagus. The Fish and Tofu Hot Pot was pretty good with large pieces of nicely fried fish and soft tofu. The flavours were mild. The hand-pulled Shanghainese Noodles were a highlight of the meal. The noodles had a nice bite and chewiness while there was a balanced mix of napa cabbage, spinach and julienned pork. The flavours were good too due to the caramelization from good wok heat. However, they used far too much oil which made the dish greasy. It's a catch-22 since fresh noodles stick easily without enough oil. Although not particularly awesome, the food was pretty serviceable and at the very least, authentic. Not sure how the "sweet & sour" crowd would like this type of food though...
- Food is not North American Szechuan
- Friendly owner-lady
- Decent eats
- Decent, but not spectacular either
- Greasy (but we expected it to be)
- Decor is well past its prime