100 Favorite OC Dishes, #75: Toothpick Lamb at Sichuan Impression

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

The List:

76. Hainan Chicken Rice at Baos Hog 
77. Fruit- and Ice Cream-Topped Waffles at Crave 
78. Garlic Shrimp Poke at Costco 
79. Chimichurri Fries at Piaggo on Wheels 
80. Torta Cubana at Cancun Juice 
81. Adobo Bowl at Irenia 
82. Garlic Noodles at Krave Asian Fusion 
83. Broccolini at SeaSalt WoodFire Grill 
84. Spicy Tuna Roll at Yard House 
85. Amber Roll at Orange Roll and Sushi 
86. Frito Chili Cheeseburger at Burger Parlor 
87. Maui Sunrise at The Original Banzai Bowls 
88. Meals from The Performance Kitchen 
89. Pizza-Sized Quesadilla at Los Sanchez
90. Filipino Brunch at EATS Kitchen And Bar
91. Mexican Chocolate at the Pie Hole 
92. Biscuits at James Republic 
93. Mushroom Flatbread with Kale and Kumquat Salad at Lemonade 
94. Mexican-Style Gelatins from Santa Ana’s Gelatina Goddess 
95. Hot Pastrami Caesar Salad at Bruxie
96. Jalapeño Pupusas at Las Cazuelas
97. Meatball Sliders at Fresh Brothers
98. Buffalo Cauliflower at Mead’s Green Door Cafe
99. Raindrop Cake at Sunmerry Bakery
100. Doughrito at Surfin’ Donuts

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