Located in the Asia World Market shopping center, Little Sichuan Cuisine is known for serving an authentic Chinese mix of regional cooking styles. Owner Jean Gao’s menu represents her love for Chinese culinary traditions.
“We cook true Sichuanese food. First off, that means spicy,” she said. “We put a lot of spices in our food, and that makes it very flavorful.”
Little Sichuan Cuisine opened eight years ago. The mother of two moved to the United States with her husband 20 years ago, and when they moved to Plano from Houston 15 years ago, he encouraged her to open a restaurant. Asia World Market had just opened, making it a prime location for serving the type of homeland cuisine Gao’s team of professional Sichuanese chefs pride themselves in.
Gao frequents the market for fresh meat, vegetables, spices and other ingredients that make up her extensive menu. Gao runs every aspect of the business seven days a week, greeting guests and helping her staff of five.
Perhaps what patrons notice first about the menu is its variety. Sichuanese food is all about the spices. From fresh garlic and ginger to green chili and Sichuan peppercorns, each dish is full of flavor, Gao said. Not all entrees are spicy, but each offers its own unique flavor.
Sichuan is a province in central China whose capital city of Chengdu is a key economic center of western China. Modern Sichuanese cuisine includes traditional cuisine from the Hunan Province to the east and the Guangdong Province to the south, formerly known as Canton, Gao said.
“China is a big country, so different [regions] cook different food,” Gao said. “Today, Sichuanese food includes Hunanese and Cantonese food. Sichuanese like [peppers]. Cantonese [people] like it steamed to give it a more natural flavor. And Hunan people like it spicy. So you put it all together and you have a new Sichuanese food.”
Main entrees at Little Sichuan Cuisine include beef, tofu, pork and duck, and familiar favorites like sesame chicken and appetizers like pork dumplings steeped in a spicy sauce, eggrolls and eggdrop soup, Gao said.
“Everything is good right here. I always tell them to try something new [when they come back].”
Gao recommends the tripe and ox tail dish for those looking for a little more adventure.
For newcomers, it can be somewhat difficult to decide what to order. Gao watches as customers often study the menu and steal glances at other diners a table over to see what they ordered. Gao said she is always happy to educate her customers and make recommendations.
“Chinese food is hard to explain … and Sichuanese food is different. Each meal comes with a different flavor,” she said. “Everything is good right here. I always tell them to try something new [when they come back].”