Chef Huang gets around. He's bounced from Beijing to New York, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle, where his North End restaurant, Szechuan...
Chef Huang gets around. He’s bounced from Beijing to New York, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle, where his North End restaurant, Szechuan Bean Flower, earned a rave in this space just last year. Now the peripatetic chef has sold that venture and moved north of the border — the King-Snohomish border, that is.
Fans of Chef Huang’s house-made tofu, hand-shaven noodles and hot pots will find them at Szechuan 99 in Lynnwood. The low-slung brick building next to Lynnwood Bowl & Skate once housed Hong’s. It now sports a new sign and a spiffed-up, shiny red interior. Roomy booths rim the newly carpeted front dining room; a larger room beyond can be reserved for banquets.
Chili, hot peppers and garlic are prevalent in Szechuan cooking, considered one of the eight great cuisines of China. While you’ll find many hot and spicy dishes on this vast menu, there are many others that aren’t, from tea-smoked duck, a classic Szechuan regional dish, to mainstream Chinese fare like chow mein and moo goo gai pan. Few entrees top $10; a lengthy list of lunch specials (available until 3 p.m.) ranges from $4.99-$6.99; the price includes soup, rice and egg roll or shrimp toast.
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6124 200th St. S.W., Lynnwood;
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Drinks: Cocktails, beer, wine.
Credit cards: Visa, MC.
Access: No obstacles.
Chef Huang’s specialty is house-made tofu, soy-bean curd made in a very soft, slippery style that has the silky texture of custard. Bland on its own, it plays especially well with pungent flavors.
Service is cheerful. One tall, genial waiter was patient and informative as we sorted out what to have, though subtitles might have been helpful all around. He worried that our youngsters might find the food too spicy (not a chance, we assured him) and won their hearts by delivering extra fortune cookies with the check. And speaking of delivering: this place does. Lucky Lynnwood.
Prince Onion Pancake: This appetizer looks like a crepe but, with its chewy texture, tastes like fried flatbread. Scallions give it zip, and it’s cut into wedges for easy dunking into a tangy, soy-based sauce.
Vegetarian Stir-fried Hand-shaven Noodles: The flat, ragged-edged noodles have great texture, tender but sturdy, and the dish is loaded with bits of firm tofu and vegetables: carrot, zucchini, broccoli, bok choy, baby corn and water chestnut among them.
Xin Jian Cumin Lamb: Tender strips of meat coated with cumin and garlic are stir-fired with onion and scallion. The dish has a peppery punch, but not so much that it overwhelms the lovely lamb flavor.
Minced Pork with Bean Curd: This souplike dish dazzled me twice: The huge portion left enough for lunch the next day. Ground peanuts give body and crunch to the finely minced pork that floats among the clouds of tofu (house-made and soft as pudding) in a chili-stoked chicken broth.
Szechuan 99 Fish: A pile of fried fish comes tangled in a heap of wonderful, wok-seared green beans. Bite into a chunk of fish and you’ll find flaky white flesh under a crispy jacket that’s ruddy (perhaps from chili oil) and dusted with finely ground garlic, scallion and Szechuan chilies.
Itemized bill for two people
Prince Onion Pancake $3.99
Vegetarian Stir-fried Hand- shaven Noodles $7.99
Xin Jian Cumin Lamb $9.99
Minced Pork with Bean Curd $8.99
Szechuan 99 Fish $9.99
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