Sorry Anthony Bourdain, I think I'm going to have to steal your favorite word for a sec, "ethereal". Ok, so it's not ethereal in the way the cool summer breeze carries dandelion seeds over a vast hill of swaying green grass. But ethereal in the way hell would be if it served raw kumamoto oysters on a half shell with a spoonful of caviar on a daily basis--so hot, yet so damn good.
This would be the category that Szechuan food falls in--an ethereal hell.
What makes Szechuan food so uniquely delicious? Why, the Szechuan peppercorn of course.
This tiny little peppercorn packs not only a punch, but a numbing sensation so strange that it can only be compared to, well, Novocaine (in trace doses of course). Every mouthful of food cooked with these unassuming little pods really creates a crazy experience. It's still spicy, but the tingly feeling on your tongue is inescapable.
It's somewhat of a masochist feat--painful yet so satisfying.
Chung King in Monteray Park, California is the place where you go if you want the most authentic, amazingly delicious, and spicy food without having to go to China. Plus, you can really impress your friends when you tackle that plate of pepper covered chicken!