Dish no. 47: Wok-tossed chicken with chilies from Szechuan Gourmet (21 West 39th Street, 212-921-0233)
You won’t find this favorite dish on the menu at Szechuan Gourmet, but if you ask your server for wok-tossed chicken with chilies or “that really spicy chicken dish with red peppers,” or, perhaps, if all else fails, you just show him the photo here, he’ll likely understand and oblige. And that’s lucky for you, because of all the places we’ve had this dish, none undertakes it with such gusto and fire as Szechuan Gourmet. Nubs of poultry get pan fried until crispy, tossed with blistered red chili peppers, and then doused in oil imbued with the mouth-numbing heat of Szechuan peppercorns. It’ll make you sweat, to be sure, but this dish also has nice savory complexity to it. If you’re a chili fiend, like we are, order it alongside ma po tofu and dan dan noodles. Get the Tsing Tao ready; you’re gonna need it.
In advance of our 2014 Best of NYC issue, we’re traipsing through the boroughs and divulging our favorite dishes of the year. They’re presented here as a countdown, but we’re listing them in no particular order. Consider this a guide to what’s good to eat in this town right this very second.
More:100 Favorite Dishes