100 Favorite OC Dishes, #75: Toothpick Lamb at Sichuan Impression
It hurts so good!
A sister restaurant to the famed Szechuan Impressions of Alhambra has made its entrance, nestling into a sparsely populated shopping center in Tustin. Sichuan Impression (yep; it's a whole different spelling) specializes in the regional Chinese cuisine known for its assortment of pungent flavorings and incendiary chilies with no remorse for your gweilo tongue. No less than Jonathan Gold has praised the mothership's offerings, especially their notorious toothpick lamb.
The marinated lamb is skewered with toothpicks, then thrice fried before getting tossed in Sichuan pepper, cumin, cilantro and dried chili. The lamb lends itself particularly well to the distinctive earthy aroma of cumin, crusted on the outside and chewy on the inside. The chili furiously overwhelms your senses—Mexican chilies has nothing on a Sichuan pepper's unabashed bite. Altogether, the dish is a sensuous trip: enchantingly spicy, addictive and delicious. Confucius says, ask for plenty of ice cold water.
Sichuan Impression, 13816 Red Hill Ave., Tustin, (714) 505-9070
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