This modest restaurant, located near the UC Berkeley campus, offers an ambience only slightly fancier than a cafeteria, and has a vast and somewhat clumsily translated menu that can be intimidating for those who can’t read Chinese. But there’s a reason Chengdu Style Restaurant is a favorite among Chinese international students: It’s a good place to get acquainted with the unique flavors of Sichuan cooking — and, particularly, with the tongue-numbing pleasures of the Sichuan peppercorn. For a dose of the effect the Chinese call ma-la (numbingly spicy), try one of the saucy cold appetizers (e.g., the sliced beef shank in chili oil or the cold noodles) or the spicy-savory sliced fish and tofu pudding in chili sauce. Other specialties include cumin-spiced “toothpick lamb” (wherein each slice of meat is threaded onto an individual toothpick) and flour-steamed pork (tender pork belly coated in seasoned rice powder).

— Luke Tsai


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