3862 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 206-8292, luckystrikepdx.com.
[SICHUAN EMPEROR] Next time I hear someone open their yap to whine about how bad Chinese food is in this town, I'm going to fill it with Lucky Strike's Hot Pepper Chicken Bath. It's going to burn, and it's also going to prove them so very wrong. Lucky Strike is real Sichuan—a far cry from the cloying General Tso chicken we grew up on—all nuanced flavors of sweet, spicy and savory. The Southeast Hawthorne restaurant has a bit of a dated club vibe, with the Black Eyed Peas appearing on the playlist while an '80s Jackie Chan movie is silently projected on a wall. But I'm here for the Sichuan peppers, which are flown in from China for maximum freshness. While it's tempting to grab every spicy dish, a more successful meal involves a blend. Grab a "four bomb" level dish, but also get the Beans and Beans, perfectly done green beans stir-fried with garlic and fermented soybeans. Make sure you get an egg to top the complex Dan Dan Noodle, a medium-hot dish with crushed peanuts and scallions. And for God's sake, order the JiaoZi dumplings with the spicy sauce and save the leftover dipping sauce—you'll be dipping everything else in it, too. The garlicky, gingery, peppery sauce is so quality they sell it in bottles for home. After this meal, the only complaint will be from your overstuffed gut.
Ideal Meal: Beans and Beans, Guinness pork ribs, JiaoZi dumplings in spicy broth.
Best Deal: Many of the best dishes are on the happy-hour menu at pretty much the same portion size, including the Dan Dan noodles ($4) and Guinness ribs ($6).
Pro Tip: Don't be a hero. Go ahead and order super-spicy dishes like the chicken in the pepper bath; just make sure you get rice, a few non-Sichuan dishes and plenty of beer. Your intestines will thank you.
4-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 4-11 pm Friday-Saturday. $$.