By STEFAN MODRICH
Whether you know it as Sichuan or Szechuan, the province in the southwestern part of China is known for a few things: being home to the Giant Panda, the birthplace of a style of opera that dates back to the 1700s, and a fertile region that allows for a wide variety of rice, herbs and vegetables to grow and prosper.
The one that is credited with starting this world-renowned cuisine is the Sichuan pepper. Like Greater Houston, Sichuan is notoriously humid, and according to a dispatch from a BBC reporter who traveled to Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan, the intense heat of the food helps provide a reprieve from the summer heat by inducing sweat and is a welcome source of warmth during damp winters.
For all of you heat-seekers: Spicy dishes on the menu at Cooking Girl, located at 636 Highway 6 Suite 100, are helpfully marked with a red flame.
Classics like Kung Pao Chicken ($13.99) and its dry red pepper, peanuts, and peppercorn, and Mapo Tofu ($10.99) are staples in many Chinese restaurants.
According to its website, Cooking Girl is a “cornerstone in the Sugar Land community” and what it believes separates it is its “modern interpretation of classic dishes” and an “insistence on only using high quality fresh ingredients.”
I ordered the Fried Pineapple Rice with Steak ($12.99), but you can choose between rice or noodles for any of the dishes on that portion of the menu.
I was satisfied with the texture of the rice as well as the quality of the shredded steak and the overall blend with the peas, carrots and pineapple bits that made up the complete dish. The surprise that sealed the deal were bits of scrambled eggs that gave an extra bit of substance to each bite.
If you’re in the mood for something different, Duck Bamboo Soup ($15.99) includes bamboo shoots, green onions, duck meat and ham. For a battle of intense flavors, give Lobster VS Jelly ($23.99) a try. The lobster tail is stir fried with garlic, another Sichuan household essential, and ginger, jelly, parsley and a variety of peppers.
Address: 636 Highway 6 Suite #100, Sugar Land
Dining Options: Curbside pick-up, delivery via Doordash, Grubhub, Seamless
Hours: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. daily
Entrée prices: $10.99 – $23.99
Senior discount: No
Healthy options: Yes
Star of the show: Fried Pineapple Rice with Steak