I haven’t been impressed by the quality or diversity of authentic Chinese food since I moved to Austin a few years ago. There are some respectable Cantonese options in Din Ho and Ho Ho. You can get Taiwanese at Cocoa’s but the menu is limited and I haven’t found any Shanghai-style restaurants. Dim Sum has been sub par but I haven’t tried newly opened New Fortune Chinese restaurant. I love spicy Sichuan food and there are a few options in north Austin, but I’ve haven’t been blown away, despite all positive press they’ve received. Finally there is an authentic Sichuan restaurant in Austin worth mentioning. I first visited Sichuan River a few weeks ago. Before posting, I decided to give it another try to make sure the food was consistently good.
So far I’ve had the Beijing pork, ChongQing mala chicken, pork with dried bean curd and chives, fried dumplings, dan dan noodles and lo mien, but my favorite is the Sichuan stir-fried chicken. Other restaurants I’ve been to have called the dish something different, so I actually showed the server a picture of what I wanted to ensure I was getting the right thing. My love for this dish started a few years back when I lived Ohio but the restaurant there called it red dry chili chicken. The dish seems simple enough but I’ve tried to replicate it myself at home, and getting the texture of the chicken right is difficult. Other Sichuan restaurants in Austin haven’t compared to the Ohio version I became accustomed to either.
Pieces of dark meat chicken are coated in a batter and then deep fried until crisp. The chicken is then briefly tossed in a hot wok with fiery red Chinese chili peppers, garlic, scallions, ginger and Sichuan peppercorns. The result is crispy, spicy, mouth-numbing Chinese chicken nuggets on steroids. I can’t wait to go back to explore the menu further and try some of my other old favorites like cumin lamb, spicy sizzling beef and vermicelli with spicy minced pork (Ants on a tree). Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks Sichuan River is worth checking out. One of my fellow Austin bloggers, Mad Betty, also recently published her endorsement which you can read here.