Szechuan Spice Offers a Variety of Chines Fare (Mon., 5/6/24)

Szechuan Spice restaurant is in the Centre Avenue space that for many years housed Jimmy Tsang’s Restaurant. It features Chinese and Szechuan dishes. The staff is very competent and friendly and led by Greg Katz, formerly of Shadyside’s China Palace. Paul Liu, the main server, is originally from Taiwan. He worked at China Palace as well. The restaurant features comfortable booths that look out onto Centre Avenue and a spacious main dining area.

I asked Greg and Paul for a different dish that I hadn’t had there before that featured chicken. They both asked if I liked spicy food. I replied that I like things spicy, but not too spicy. They said their most popular chicken dish is the Diced Chicken with Dried Pepper Chongqing-Style ($14.95), but it is very spicy. I decided to bite-the-bullet (chili pepper) and ordered the Chongqing Chicken. I paired it with hot & sour soup, and an order of steamed pork dumplings. My brother Howard, who is a Chinese restaurant aficionado, ordered vegetable lo mein and hot & sour soup. Our soup was hot, spicy and very tasty with a mélange of different flavors.

Diced Chicken with Dried Pepper Chongqing-style (Szechuan Spice).

Diced Chicken with Dried Pepper Chongqing-style (Szechuan Spice).

The Chongqing Chicken was similar to popcorn chicken with delicious breaded and deep fried pieces of chicken covered with hot chili pepper seeds and surrounded by Szechuan peppercorns and hot chili peppers chopped in half. It was very fiery. The hot pepper overload was fun for awhile, but about half-way through eating the dish, I threw in the towel (napkin) and decided to start dusting the chili pepper seeds off of the chicken and ate the rest. It was surprising when I was done eating the chicken how many hot peppers were left. The pork dumplings provided a welcome counterbalance to the spicy chicken. Howard reported that his lo mein and hot and sour soup were splendid. Szechuan Spice offers lunch specials ($9.95 to $10.95) with steamed rice, Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  Open for lunch and dinner every day, but Tuesday. 5700 Centre Avenue (near Negley Avenue), (412) 363-888. Delivery is available.

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Rick Handler

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