Although New York City now boasts a wealth of Sichuan restaurants, the East Village hasn’t seen too many of them — until now. Hot Kitchen (104 Second Avenue, 212-228-3090) opened quietly several weeks ago, offering a vast menu of Sichuan specialties, plus other “American Chinese dishes.” One of our favorite choices, though, is the spicy and tingly mei shan beef, listed under “Hot Kitchen Specials.”
Beef is dry-fried along with a handful of peanuts, chopped scallions, fried squiggly crackers that oddly resemble a DNA sequence, and a bevy of dried chiles. Sichuan peppercorns are also in the mix, so you’re bound to have a mouth that both burns and tingles simultaneously: the hallmark of a tasty Sichuan meal. The strips of beef are both tender and nicely crunchy, and the dish is light enough that you can eat a hearty portion without feeling ill. It’s a dish not for the faint of palate, but for those who like their food spicy hot, Hot Kitchen delivers.