We took the 30 minute trek out to Rockville to try Sichuan Pavillion because of a chowhound thread that had been raving about it since it opened in late 2009. It was a little bit hard to find (off the road addressand behind the building), but when we got there, we found quite a treasure. The owners were all nice, and the staff treated us like a friendly Chinese family would. When they saw us taking pictures, they wanted to see how the pictures were turning out. A discussion ensued around my digital SLR camera and they were eager to see the pictures we took. It was altogether a fun and warm dining experience, and made me wish that our Mandarin was 100%. Peter's Chinese language skills is the best of the both of us, and he only has a 6 year-old's understanding of the Chinese language because he left China then.
The first good sign was that when we got there, it was busy! We were greeted in Mandarin, and as we looked around, we saw a number of other Chinese around too. There are plenty of Chinese restaurants that you can't find a single Chinese person in, so it's another good sign to see 'locals'.
This is one of our favorite Chinese appetizers. It was perfect, spicy, flavorful, and a little mouth numbing.
After talking with one of the owners, we learned about their homemade Sichuan sausage, and the owner said that it would only be available for one more week this year, because it can only be made in the winter. It had a delicious distinctive taste like nothing I've ever had. Well worth trying.
The sauce is mixed in right at the table. All I can say is Wow Wow WOOOOWWW! This might have been one of the best dishes I've had all year. If you're going, this is the one dish you CANNOT CANNOT miss. The sweet and sour sauce brought me into another world -- it is flavorful without being overpoweringly sweet. Peter ended up finishing this dish completely. His excuse is that it wouldn't taste good later. But he paid for it by not being able to move.
I couldn't put this down.
When vegetables are perfectly cooked, they're crisp without being hard, and flavorful without being soaked. This vegetable plate had it all... and was a perfect complement with our meal.
I haven't had great xiao long bao in DC, ever, and unfortunately, the skin was a little too thick for my liking here. The meat was yummy, although it was sad when the soup squirted out all onto my chair.
This is before they brought the final dish. All the waitresses probably thought we were crazy, because it was just the two of us eating, and we had ordered soooo much. Good thing we were both in our comfortable clothes. Actually, we had to unbutton a little bit so that we can eat more. And not in a sexy way. In a "I'm so fat and full" kind of way. hahaha.
We've got a habit of traveling for good Chinese food. And I think it's safe to add Sichuan Pavillion to the list of "loves" in this area, along with China Garden in Rosslyn, China Star in Fairfax, and Peking Gourmet in Falls Church.