After spending three months in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, I’m kind of an elitist when it comes to trying “Sichuan” food at American Chinese restaurants. I am almost never pleased with the result, so generally I just don’t order it. China Chalet in Florham Park, New Jersey, however, not only offers a wide selection of Sichuan food but also does it right.
Ever since I left China I’ve been dreaming about these dumplings we affectionately called Sweet Sweet Jiaozi (jiaozi is Chinese for dumpling). These dumplings were steamed and served in a comforting sweet and spicy sauce. But I’ve never been able to find them. I recently learned that they are actually called Zhong Shui Jiao, and when I saw Sichuan Pork Dumpling with Roasted Red Oil on the China Chalet menu I decided to take a chance.
I’m so glad I did.
They were perfect—just like I remembered. The thin dumpling wrappers were stuffed with pork filling and formed into lovely crescent shapes. They were swimming in a bright red oil sauce with just the right balance of sweet and spicy. It transported me right back to the streets of Chengdu. Mmm, sweet sweet jiaozi…
I also tried the Dan-Dan Noodle with Minced Pork and Chili Vinaigrette. Divine. Dan Dan Noodles are a classic Sichuan dish. Served in China, they would have been spicier, but China Chalet still gave them a nice kick. They came with a little bit of broth, tasty minced pork, and some green vegetables—stirring it all together and slurping them up made for a great meal.
The two Sichuan dishes I tried at China Chalet impressed me. I’ll definitely be going back to try some of their other Sichuan dishes, such as Mapo Dofu, which is a classic spicy dish with tofu and minced beef. And I can rest easy now that I know a reliable place where I can indulge in sweet sweet jiaozi when I get the craving.
If you are in North Jersey and interested in getting a little taste of Sichuan province, I highly recommend trying some of the delicious dishes at China Chalet.