Every week so often, a dish moves me to the point that I proclaim it "Dish of the Week." The last Dish of the Week was easily taken by Cedar Grove's Chengdu 1, whose preserved pork dish blew my mind, man.
This week the notable dish came from the unrelated Chengdu 23, in Wayne, NJ. Unrelated in ownership, but related in name, geography, and approach to Chinese cooking.
Is it odd that the only two times that I've proclaimed a "Dish of the Week" that they happen to be from Sichuan restaurants? Maybe, but probably not. The fact of the matter is that these are two exceptional restaurants, serving fantastic Sichuan-style Chinese food. I'm not surprised when I'm blown away at these places. Can't say that about 99% of the other restaurants in the area, or anywhere for that matter.
This week's Dish of the Week came gratis with an order of take-out. I was talking with the owner, and nice, and passionate fella called Kevin, about how I (and others) really like the authentic Sichuan cooking that they're doing (as opposed to the Americanized crap that they're forced to cook to stay in business), and he told me about these new ribs that they were about to add to the menu. He wanted me to try them and give him feedback. They're adding them to the menu because so many Americans ask for "ribs".
Well they're going to get ribs, but probably nothing like they want.
These aren't sweet, sticky, red-colored ribs. They're just barely sweet, slightly spicy, and pretty darned tea-smoked. Little nuggets of smoky porky ribness. Do they look boring? They're not. Chinese BBQ. Git 'em.
Chengdu 23 : 6 Willowbrook Rd (West Belt Plaza, behind Pizzerwhatever Uno) : 973.812.2800 : BYOB