Danny Zhou has grown Szechuan Place into a fierce restaurant group in the San Fernando Valley. Northridge is his third and nicest location yet, with wood tables, red booths with elaborate wood framing, and a single wall of Chinese lettering. Szechuan Place plays no music, but the restaurant keeps flavor at high volume.
While special spicy bullfrog and whole fish with green bean jelly and black bean sauce called to me at a recent lunch, I opted for a great version of Spicy Diced Chicken ($11.50).
Boneless chunks of chicken frequently arrive in the form of tiny, batter-heavy nubs at other Szechuan restaurants in L.A. Not at Szechuan Place, where meaty chunks are wok-tossed with dried chiles, Szechuan peppercorns, scallions, and minimal oil. Flavor built with every bite and left my tongue tingling with ma la. In cases like this, it’s best to just roll with the spicy coaster or stick with hot tea, since adding water to the fire results in cottonmouth.