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Great Wall Szechuan House: Favorites on the Spicy Ma La Menu

by Borderstan.com — August 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm 1,273 3 Comments

"Great Wall"

Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Dan Segal. Email him at dsegal[AT]borderstan.com and find him on Twitter @segaldg.

Anyone who has spent time in the Borderstan area knows that if you want to get good Chinese food, Great Wall Szechuan House on 14th Street NW is the place to go.  And if you have a hankering for some spice in your life, the ma la menu items are a surefire source of happiness.

The owners of Great Wall, Mae Kuang and Yuan Chen, recently renovated the space, giving it a modern update that replaces the former hole-in-the-wall feel the restaurant has long been known as. Their recent renovations replaced the black-and-white floor tiles and drywall with exposed brick walls and floor tiles that resemble stones.

The normal Chinese food options (Kung Pao Chicken and other Americanized dishes) are better than most places in the area. But, you don’t go to Great Wall for just their normal items (unless you are me and cannot get takeout without ordering Crab Rangoon). You go for the heat. You go for the numbing, searing pain of ma la sauce chock full of Chinese peppercorns.

Ma La dishes are famous for their combination of high heat (think: chili peppers) with numbing heat (think: tingly peppercorns) that make your mouth tingle, burn, and crave more.

Favorite Ma La Dishes

The Ma La menu contains many winning dishes. My top three favorite dishes are presented as a F%ck, Chuck, and Marry:

  1. F%ck: Ma La Twice Cooked Pork. Like eating spicy, slow-cooked bacon in a delicious goopy sauce. It’s dirty, raunchy and ready to rock your world.
  2. Chuck: Ma Po Tofu. Don’t get me wrong, the dish is absolutely delicious (and one of my favorites). But it is also everyone’s favorite and one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Don’t be a poser.
  3. Marry: Ma La Kung Pao chicken. Believe me. I’ve ordered this dish probably at least 50 times. It is a keeper and can become your new life partner.

Great Wall Szechuan House: The Details

  • Where Am I Going: 1527 14th Street NW (just south of Q Street)
  • When Am I Going: Open Monday through Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, and Friday until 10:30 pm. Open Saturday and Sunday at noon. Delivery available for orders over $15.00.
  • Paycheck Pain: Not much. Entrees are around $8 to $11 and come with rice and fortune cookies.
  • Say What?: The new space provides eat-in choices for diners in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • What You’ll Be Eating: Spicy as hell Szechuan-style Chinese food.

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Comments (3)

  1. Well , maybe. But how come the carry-out food always seems a little skimpier than the same dish ordered on site? I live around the corner and have eaten their food often. I can’t get over the lingering impression that I am being ripped off when I take out. Am I alone?

  2. Actually, I’ve had the opposite experience. And it seems like the food is hotter (thermal) for take out than for in-house dining. Oh, next time try the fish with spicy mustard greens. Different heat than ma la.

  3. Thanks for the feedback. I love the delivery because of how quickly they get it to your door. Don’t think I have ever noticed a smaller portion size, but it’s possible.

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