3000 San Pedro Dr NE
Albuquerque, NM 87110
During a recent search through the Chowhound forums, I discovered a thread that talked about authentic Sichuan in Albuquerque. That piqued my interest as previously the only authentic Chinese restaurants in Albuquerque that I knew and went to were either Cantonese or Taiwanese in flavor or influence. Truly authentic Sichuan (as opposed to the Taiwanese influenced Sichuan and Hunan that arrived in America in the 1970s) was something I only knew of in large cities with a lot of Chinese residents, like Los Angeles. Therefore I was very intrigued when a poster mentioned Pacific Paradise’s Sichuan menu and I had to go.
When I entered Pacific Paradise, I was immediately hesitant. Essentially the restaurant bills itself as something tropical pan-Asian with Pacific Islander motifs and a menu made of Americanized Japanese and Chinese dishes, along with sushi. It was a visual representation of what I thought was everything wrong with Americanized appropriation of Asian food.
I requested the Sichuan menu, which the waiter immediately gave me, and immediately soothed some of my initial concerns. After a quick look at the menu I ordered dry sauteed green beans and spicy and aromatic diced chicken, hoping that these dishes would bring some of that authentic Sichuan flavor I’ve been missing in Albuquerque.
About 15 minutes or so later, the dishes came out. The first dish were the green beans. The first bite immediately wiped out any fears developed by the kitschy decor. The green beans were sauteed very well with a lot of great flavor coming from ginger, shallots, and garlic caramelized to near perfection. The chicken came out next and the deep fried exterior of the chicken caught me off guard. Nonetheless it was quite tasty and the aromatic flavors of the dried chiles, sichuan peppercorns, and peanuts were well infused. It was definitely spicy, though I did wish it had even more spicy notes from the sichuan peppercorns. The peppercorns did not overpower and numb my mouth as it should do, though I don’t know if that didn’t happen because the dishes were dry fried or whether I should have ordered in Chong Qing style at the next spice level up.
Service was fantastic with my waiter filling my glass of water copiously, which is essential when I am eating Sichuan cuisine.
All in all, the sichuan food here was better than I had ever imagined for Albuquerque. While I do wish there was a little more mala spicy flavor, the Sichuan menu is worlds better than the offerings I saw on their regular menu. I just wish the restaurant would do a better job highlighting there hidden gem of a menu.