It’s more than just Chengdu Taste
It’s no secret that Sichuan cuisine has been gaining in popularity not only in East Asia, but across the United States. Even for those who haven’t encountered authentic Sichuan food, a passing familiarity with Chinese menus will offer, at one point or another, exposure to a dish at least derived from the cuisine of Sichuan province. Kung Pao Chicken, a mainstay of westernized Chinese cuisine and Panda Express menus everywhere, originated there relatively recently in the 19th century.
Yet, for a region internationally renowned for its spicy cuisine (UNESCO named capital city Chengdu a City of Gastronomy in 2011), in a country where culinary tradition is rich as it is long-standing, the actual use of chili peppers in Sichuan cuisine is not as ancient as it may seem.
The practice of raising chili peppers in China originated during the Ming Dynasty, with the first reference to peppers in writing coming in Gao Lian’s Eight Treatises on the Nurturing of Life, published in the late 16th century. And while the debate on the cuisine’s traditions and its future raged on back home, the cuisine’s key ingredient, the Sichuan peppercorn, was banned stateside by the FDA until 2005. Since the lifting of the ban, the number of restaurants practicing either Chengdu or Chongqing culinary traditions has been nothing short of alarming.
And so today, with its massive Chinese immigrant population and welcoming attitude toward foreign cuisines, Los Angeles is quickly becoming home to some of the best Sichuan food in the nation. Here’s a handy guide to the most essential Sichuan restaurants across greater Los Angeles.
“An Essential Guide to Los Angeles’s Booming Sichuan Food Scene.” Eater LA – All. https://la.eater.com/maps/best-sichuan-szechuan-restaurants-los-angeles.