South Beauty, Kenzo Plaza Center
Not everyone can handle the tongue-tingling intensity of traditional Sichuan cuisine, but if you want to test your tolerance for chile-spiced dishes, this restaurant—part of a national chain—is a great place to do it. Don’t be put off by the dull, shopping-arcade location, or the whimsical-kitschy décor of the cavernous dining room (decked out in “primitive” raw stone and wood, with a bridge over a carp-filled indoor pond). South Beauty’s extensive menu—which helpfully includes English translations and color photographs—has reliably good Sichuan staples such as mapo dofu (spicy bean curd with minced pork), deep-fried spareribs with chiles and spices, and braised duck with wild mushrooms. Staffers may have limited English, but are cheery and affable (not always the case in local Chinese restaurants)—plus, you can always point on the menu to what you want.
Tip: Insist on a table in the main dining room. The smaller one (to the left of the entryway), with its light-up floor and plasticky spage-age décor, is a design experiment taken too far.
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From Food & Wine , SEP 2005
Overseen by the charismatic owner, Zhang Lan, with help from her hipster son and recent MBA graduate Danny Wang, South Beauty serves mainly Sichuan cuisine, reconfigured into outrageous presentations, like shrimp cooked in Dragon Well tea and arranged around a goldfish bowl filled with live fish....MORE