Susan Johnson (more chengdu)|
Chengdu has a handful of Xiao Jian Jiao restaurants, named for a tiny, fiery chili pepper. As the name would suggest, their popular dishes are quite spicy, such as the pepper fish (尖椒鱼), or the, server recommended, “pepper-numbing-chicken” (椒麻鸡). We really enjoyed this dish, whose numbing effect came from fresh Sichuan peppercorns. They also refuse to tone down the heat on their spicy dishes, which is something we respect. There are plenty of options on their well-illustrated menu for the chili-averse, such as their tomato fish (蕃茄鱼), crispy-skinned fish (脆皮鱼), and sticky rice steamed ribs (蒸排骨), which many tables seemed to be enjoying. They also have some non-Sichuanese Chinese dishes, like a lion's head meatball (狮子头) that’s bigger than a baseball and contains a salted egg yolk inside.
We love how popular mashed potato dishes have been getting in Chengdu. Xiao Jian Jiao has two kinds of, “potato mud” (土豆泥). One is flavored with green onion, and the other with salted egg yolk. We tried the egg yolk version, which wasn't bad, but would probably go with the cheaper onion style next time. Eating the lion's head meatball and potato mud made us feel like we were eating meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Their vegetable offerings were nicely done as well. People who enjoy raw greens can order a pretty standard lettuce in sesame sauce, as well as chrysanthemum greens (茼蒿). They had a well prepared and salty version of eggplant fried with sprouts. The interior and service provide an adequate setting for the food, which is all we can ask for. It can get noisy when busy, but what place doesn’t? Expect to pay 70-100RMB for two.