Itinerant chef Peter Cheng started the Sichuan craze locally at Tasty China in 2006, and several restaurants (including Cheng's eponymous outpost) have since opened that specialize in the fiery nuances of that province. Gu's has quietly become the favorite among many Chinese food fanatics. Its finest dishes reveal a skilled calibration: The burn from the chiles and the numbing effect of the Sichuan peppercorns blend as part of a flavor framework; they don't obliterate the tastes of the other ingredients.
Start with Chong-qing spicy chicken (garlicky bites of chicken among red chiles), the refreshing and zesty Chengdu cold noodles, and the rectangles of fried eggplant. Tea-smoked duck—served in pieces on the bone or shredded and tossed with scallions and ginger—has a campfire aroma that Southern barbecue fans will devour.