Mala Sichuan Bistro Editor’s Pick
Born in China and educated at the University of Texas at Austin, Cori Xiong, the young co-owner of Mala Sichuan, played it safe when the restaurant first opened, offering such standbys as sweet-and-sour chicken on the menu. But it was cutting-edge items like “garlic bacon” rolls, part of the Chinese charcuterie trend, and “funky chicken sticks,” shredded chicken and green onions tossed in the spicy orange mala dressing, that she really wanted the restaurant to be known for. The marriage of ma (the numbing tingle of Sichuan peppercorns) and la (the fire of chile peppers) is the signature flavor of Sichuan cooking. As more customers came looking for mala, the sweet-and-sour chicken went south, replaced by some of the most exciting Chinese food in America.