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dining

LOCAL FLAVOR

CHINA’S SOUTHWEST STYLE Savor and spice at Tsubaki Szechuan BY STEVE GILL PHOTOS BY SCOT T Y O’DANIEL

ON E OF T HE BE ST things about Chinese food might be its

ubiquity – chances are that wherever you happen to be at any given time, there’s probably someplace nearby that will sell you some sweet and sour pork. Even my fairly small home town in southeastern Oklahoma had a Western Sizzlin’, a nondescript Tex-Mex place, a scattering of fast food outlets … and Chan’s Oriental Restaurant. (Friday night was fried catfish night, but that’s another story.) From egg rolls in east L.A. to moo goo gai pan near the middle of nowhere, going out for Chinese is a breeze. On the other hand, consider that mainland China is bigger than the contiguous U.S., with more than four times our population. As a category, “Chinese food” is an even looser catchall than “American food,” which can cover dishes from burgers to barbeque brisket to clam chowder. All of which is to say that Take, for yes, sesame chicken is delicious if done well, but if you’re given example, the the chance to branch out a bit more into regional Chinese “Dry spicy tasty cuisine, you should try it. And fortunately for OKC diners, one beef with ginger such opportunity has joined the Asian District in the form of and peanut” Tsubaki Szechuan. (three peppers) A collaboration between Peter and Mandy Liu and partner – a mouthful in Henry Yang (who runs Tsubaki Sushi on Memorial Road), its execution, as well menu a tribute to the cuisine of the Szechuan (Sichuan) province as name. The in southwest China. In a coincidental similarity to the American ginger flavor takes southwest, the region has a well-deserved rep for spicy spea backseat to the cialties, and several items on this menu are not playing around smoked chilies when it comes to rocking diners’ taste buds. But speaking of the for a delicious blend of textures and burst of flavor. There’s also a menu, its most immediately impressive attribute is sheer size. It chance your plate, like ours, will have an unexpected passenger, is, and I am not exaggerating, 27 pages. True, much of that space in the form of a carrot carved into the shape of a surprisingly is taken up by color photos, but it would take weeks of dedicated detailed roosting bird. visits to eat even halfway through – there’s simply a huge wealth Manager Bao Nguyen calls the Mapo tofu (three peppers) “a of options to peruse and consider. So you should probably order classic Chinese dish that’s actually very hearty despite being some dumplings (see page 61) right away before getting too lost tofu” – its sauce made from fermented black beans is a powerful in the possibilities. example of Szechuan cuisine’s characteristic combination of hot If you want familiarity, you can get classic lo mein or beef and and numbing spiciness. In general, I’m more likely to go for extra broccoli; if you’re feeling more hardcore, they can whip firm tofu as a matter of preference, but this dish makes up dishes based around tripe, tendons and kidneys. But a good case for the silky, almost creamy alternative. the restaurant’s highest points are in the dishes just outThe Authentic Szechuan fish filet is also listed at TSUBAKI SZECHUAN side what Americans would consider standard Chinese three peppers, although that seems low to me. It might fare, and the sweet spot – er, spicy spot – is generally be my fault for being insufficiently cautious with 1117 NW 25th, OKC found accompanied by little chili pepper icons. the Sichuan peppercorns; they aren’t overpowering 405.609.6606

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405 MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 2018

Profile for 405 Magazine

405 Magazine September 2018  

405 Magazine is the definitive city and lifestyle magazine of central Oklahoma, featuring people, places, events, dining and culture.

405 Magazine September 2018  

405 Magazine is the definitive city and lifestyle magazine of central Oklahoma, featuring people, places, events, dining and culture.

Profile for sliceok
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