By Ezra Klein
In a totally sound post on Chinese food options in DC, Matt Yglesias advises that if you want delivery, look to Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th and Q, and “stick to the Szechuan items on the menu.” Agreed. But be careful: The Szechuan items are not the items with names like “Szechwan chicken.” Rather, they’re the items with “ma la” — the Sichuan term for “numbingly hot” — in front of their name.
If you stick to those, though, Great Wall Szechuan is a real gem. By far the best Chinese in DC. The ma la cucumber is a particular revelation: Cold chunks of cucumber sitting in a pool of deep red chili oil and ground Sichuan peppercorns. Start with that. The ma la ma po tofu is some of the best I’ve had anywhere. Vegetarians should be sure to specify no beef, though. The ma la kung pao is sweet and spicy and smoky and perfect. The ma la double cooked pork is a tasty plate of perfectly spiced bacon. The ma la bean sprouts are startlingly fresh. I’ve not been impressed by the noodle dishes, but others like them. The only thing I’d recommend off the ma la menu is the hot and sour soup, which is very good. Apparently, with a day of advance notice and a group larger than six, Great Wall will set up a Sichuan hot pot for you. I’ve not tried it yet, but I will.