For several years now, we've been enjoying the densely flavored and artfully spiced dishes at China Star in Fairfax City. Located in an 80's era shopping center, China Star features two separate menus--one of Chinese-American standards and an exciting assortment of home-style Szechuan dishes cooked with incredible verve. Your order arrives in huge portions, served in large, hot ceramic pots and bowls. Fantastic leftovers are a built-in benefit of dining here, even on the hungriest of evenings. Last night, the feast included many of our old favorites. To start: hot tea and glazed soybeans:
Cilantro Ginger Beef
Eggplant with Garlic in Hot Pot is irresistible with its vivid purple eggplant chunks in a slightly sweet sauce packed with scallions, wood ear mushrooms, and yes, plenty of garlic and ginger. It is heavenly paired with Fish and Tofu Hot Pot:
This dish is all about silky textures: the freshest, smoothest tofu and tender fish in ginger chili oil. My husband's menu favorite is Fish with Sour Mustard: Look at the layers of spice and pepper on top! It's a real Szechuan tour de force, a delicious clash of assertive hot and sour seasonings, including plenty of Sichuan pepper, and sour, salty pieces of pickled mustard greens. Also on our crowded table: earthy and refreshing snow pea tops:
Today's leftover Szechuan feast bento, with hot pot eggplant, fish and tofu, baby greens, enoki mushrooms, kiwi, and blackberries!