Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gearing up for the next review

Now that our little project is filtering out into the internet/seach world, it seems that we should start taking our reviews even more seriously that we have been already. Now don't get me wrong, we take our food VERY sriously, but if we are going to review places and those reviews are going to be read and maybe even have an impact on business for these joints, then I for one want to make sure we get it right.

The next place we are gearing up to review is Great Wall Szechuan House, 1527 14th Street. We won't be the first to review this place, but we will be the most thorough, that is for sure. ;-)

As part of our prep work, I've been learning about MaLa. Translated literally as "numbing/hot", this is the spice common to Szechuan cooking. The hot comes from red chilis, and lots of them. This flavor will be well known to spicy food junkies. The numbing, however, may not be known to as many people. This unique flavor sensation comes from Zanthoxylumm known as szechuan peppercorns. The outter shells contain hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, which in adition to the pepper and lemony flavors also produce a numbing sensation similar to novacain. These are some mean little pods, that were briefly banned by the FDA but whose importation has been reopened.

The combination of the Ma and the LA is a tricky thing, it turns out. In our preliminary work at Great Wall, we found the basic balance to be too heavily on the numbing side. While the food was very good (you'll have to wait for the formal review a little longer), the MaLa dishes were a little too numbing. It appears, however, that you can request the balance you like - which is already making my mouth water for the next go round.

So get ready for some new posts and do a little research. Turns out, learning is almost as fun as eating.