Sichuan food as introduced to New York City in the late ’60s and early ’70s was rather pallid because Sichuan peppercorns were then technically illegal — the Department of Agriculture finally approved them in 2005 — and chile-heavy food hadn’t really caught on yet, either. Early Sichuan restaurants in the city featured dishes like baby shrimp in a sweet and slightly spicy red sauce, and cold noodles dressed with sesame paste and peanut butter. Now, Sichuan is arguably the foremost regional Chinese cuisine, and one that can be found all over the five boroughs, while many of its highlights have been incorporated into the menus of other Chinese restaurants, including neighborhood Cantonese-American carryouts.
Here are some of Eater’s favorite Sichuan restaurants — and yes, Philadelphia import Han Dynasty and the once-mighty Grand Sichuan chain are notably not included.
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