Chengdu Style Restaurant is located on the south side of campus right across from Urban Outfitters, taking the place that was formerly Le Petit Cheval. Chengdu doesn’t pander to the common American taste bud; forget about the chow mein and orange chicken of Panda Express. You should choose your companions carefully on your mission to sampling their Szechuan food, but it is sure to be a remarkable adventure.
One thing to keep in mind is that Chengdu may not be the place for everyone. Their food is seasoned quite heavily with plenty of oil, and their food strikes up some unfamiliar flavors that many would be not used to experiencing, due to the variety and intensity of the spices they use. In particular, Chengdu Style makes use of a special type of Chinese peppercorns called Sichuan pepper in some of their dishes. These little fellas stay hidden until you unwittingly chomp down on them, projecting a burst of hotness followed by a numbing sense to your entire mouth. This tongue-numbing sensation is so potent that it might linger until the end of the meal, but it’s quite an interesting experience!
Overall, I found the food to be on point in terms of its authenticity, and the portions are quite generous. There’s a diverse array of dishes, and the service is quick. A safe crowd-pleaser would be General Tso’s chicken, the restaurant’s take on the popular sweet-and-sour orange chicken, or Mapo Tofu, a popular classic. Their Sautéed Green Beans hit all the right spots in terms of crunchiness and that garlic-y kick.
My personal recommendation is the Boiled Sliced Fish in Hot Sauce. Once you get past the daunting appearance of the bright red spice-laden oil, the fillets of white fish floating inside are wonderfully tender and melt in your mouth. Although the spicy broth is very salty, generous amounts of bean sprouts and napa cabbage at the bottom offset the saltiness and provide a variety in texture. In addition, their steamed rice is cooked to absolute, fluffy perfection.
All in all, Chengdu Style stays true to what it has to offer: the authentic taste of fiery Szechuan cuisine.
Location: 2600 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun 11am-9pm