Trizest’s existence to Detroit foodies is like dangling a steak in front of a ravenous coyote. Their Sichuan menu is vibrant and full-flavored, aromatic, intense. Yet, it’s terribly inaccessible — the Sichuan dishes are written in Chinese characters with inexcusably poor English translations; and the “English menu” is an insulting amalgamation of egg rolls, General Tso’s chicken, and other such American excuses for Chinese food.
That Sichuan menu teased me for months. It sat at the counter, in all its calligraphic beauty. Yet because of my obtuse Americanness, the servers wouldn’t even let me see it.
I yearned. I yipped. I pawed. I began to drool in the corners of my mouth while imagining the fantastic taste of Sichuan peppercorns.
And then, finally, I connected with a group of Chowhounders for a special 16-dish Sichuan dinner at Trizest. With a few special requests from the ‘hounds, Trizest management prepared this fluent and diverse feast of their greatest Sichuan specialties (all available on regular Sichuan menu). At long last, we would be privy to Trizest’s Sichuan menu. At long last, we would experience Trizest beyond the deep-fried proteins submerged in a gelatinous gravy.
The dishes I managed to photograph before everyone dug in:
cold spiced beef — paper-thin slips of beef were dainty on the tongue and carried a tart, fragrant sauce
broth-cooked beef — a spicy, salty, garlicky broth flash-cooked the thin slices of beef and cabbage
dan dan noodles — the slightly overcooked noodles and excessive chili oil were disappointing
dumplings in chili oil — these delicate, sumptuous pork dumplings were bathed in a complex soy-chili-garlic sauce; this was another of my favorites from the meal; although the dumpling wrapper was thin for my preference, it was cooked perfectly and held up well to the robust filling and heavy chili oil
ginger-seared twin dragons — succulent lobster meat, enrobed in a toothsome and sweet ginger bath; the claws from this dish were my favorite part of the meal
sichuan lamb — the sweet, aromatic, earthy Sichuan peppercorns worked their magic on these tender slices of lamb
spiced chicken salad — a chicken version of the cold spiced beef, meatier, but less aromatic
squid with spiced salt — the thin, crisp outer layer created during the quick-frying creates a brilliant textural contrast to the tender, chewy squid; the spiced salt sprinkled atop tickles the tongue; this was another highlight of the night for me
three noodle salad — a quite bland trio of cellophane noodles, julienned dry tofu, and laces of celery
yuxiang battered eggplant — a massive pillow of unseasoned batter shrouding a tiny morsel of unseasoned eggplant was the Achilles’ heel of the dinner; even the lovely ginger sauce couldn’t save this dish
…This coyote is ravenous no more.