Whenever my wife Jun cooks at home, she does it with minimal seasoning; on the other hand, she doesn’t shy away from spiciness, employing a generous amount of peppers in a lot of dishes. Even though we both end up sweating like we are inside a sauna, it’s been difficult to stay away from spicy food for its addictive flavor that gives an extra layer of sensation to your palate. Not surprisingly, our trips to Chinese restaurants (other than dim sum places) in NYC have focused on spicy dishes, largely from the Sichuan region. I have heard of good things about Flaming Kitchen in Chinatown, and decided to pay a visit with Jun. Overall, we had a satisfying Sichuan-focused meal.
The menu at Flaming Kitchen is vast and not quite focused on the Sichuan region; there are dim sums and other less spicy dishes from different regions of China. Always partial to dim sums, especially shrimp dumplings, Jun suggested that we order one. Bad idea. The shells were too thick and the size of shrimp inside wasn’t quite generous. On the other hand, all the other spicy dishes were spot on. Ox tongue and tripe, one of the classic Sichuan appetizers, was quite delicious with nice texture (even though I’m not particularly a fan of tongue and tripe parts), and wonton with spicy chili oil was so much better than the shrimp dumplings for displaying a nice mix of spicy and sweet flavor. For the main dish, we shared a braised whole fish in a spicy chili broth. The kitchen cuts up the fish into multiple parts with the skeleton of the fish still inside the broth as sort of a display (even though there were still some residual bones in the parts that we scooped up). We both enjoyed the addictively spicy flavor of the nicely cooked fish; the only drawback of this dish was that it had pepper corn everywhere, and neither of us wasn’t particularly a fan of the funky sensation from biting one of the little berries so we had to be careful in getting those out before digging into the fish.
The restaurant is somewhat spacious compared to other places around Chinatown, and you won’t have an issue getting a table if you show up for early side of dinner. There is a nice mix of Chinese and non-Chinese crowds, and the dining space overall was clean and modern. Complement your meal with a bottle of Tsingtao Chinese beer (not the tasteless wines by the glasses). If you have a craving for spicy Chinese food, Flaming Kitchen is a nice place to check out; if you are stuck with what to order from the multi-page menu, focus on the items from the Chef’s Special page.
- Creativity: 7.0/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 7.5/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
- Value: 8.5/10
Address: 97 Bowery, New York, NY 10002
Telephone: (212) 925-8083