By Cassandra VanKeuren Special to The Herald
LYNNWOOD — Szechuan cuisine is known for its spiciness and bold flavors.
That is what we were looking for when my husband and I went in search of Szechuan 99.
Szechuan 99 is in Lynnwood, just off Highway 99. The restaurant looked a little rough. But it came highly recommended by a friend, so my husband and I ventured onward.
The restaurant consists of two parts: a lounge and a large dining room. The dining room was a little dim and slightly dated. We were seated quickly and given our menus and oolong tea.
On the table there was a bio of Chef Huang, stating that he started his career in Beijing and has worked in New York, Houston and San Francisco. In 2005, Huang landed in Seattle and received many accolades from dining reviewers, including best restaurant in 2006, according to the bio.
Looking over the menu I noticed many dishes I recognized: sweet and sour pork, hotpot, chow mein and twice-cooked pork. There were also some familiar novelties, such as house-made tofu, hand-shaved noodles, tea-smoked duck (a half-duck) that looked intriguing.
Some of the menu items I had never seen before, such as pork with bitter melon, Xin Jian cumin lamb, a dish called “lover slice (beef tendon)” and chicken Peking style.
My husband and I decided to share the steamed dumplings (six for $5.99) even though the menu did not tell us what was inside the dumplings.
When the dumplings arrived, they were the biggest dumplings I have ever seen coming out of a Chinese kitchen! They were folded in the style of a pot sticker but steamed, not fried, and filled with pork and green onions. On first bite, we were hooked. The accompanying sauce was a lovely mixture of sour, spicy and salty. I wanted to take a bottle of the sauce home.
For our entrees, my son decided on orange chicken ($9.99), his personal favorite at Chinese restaurants. I chose Szechuan 99 beef to share with my husband.
Our beef came first and the platter was enormous. Clearly Szechuan 99 does every thing big.
Our beef was stir-fried with green onions, onions and a spicy chili paste. I was impressed with the size of our steak slices, which were much bigger than I’ve had at other restaurants. The dish was delicious, spicy but not painfully spicy, and perfect over rice.
The platter of orange chicken was equally enormous. It consists of battered and deep-fried chicken pieces with a sweet orange glaze. My son was the first to try it and exclaimed, “This is the best orange chicken I have ever had!”
And he seemed right about that because when my husband and I sampled it, we both found it to be exceptional and significantly better than every other orange chicken we have had. Not overly sweet, a hint of spice and punctuated with thin slices of orange rind.
All three of us were so engrossed in the deliciousness of our food that no one talked. All of us left stuffed and we had plenty of leftovers to take home.
A few things you should know before you go.
If your bill is under $20 you are required to pay cash. Over $20, you can use your card. There is a charge for rice: $3 and you get a large covered bowl, more than enough for three people.
There are two parking lots. One is in front of the restaurant and one is below on the left side. Don’t park in the skate/bowling alley.
Szechuan 99 is great for large groups of people and the restaurant offers a fabulous lunch menu along with great choices for folks who don’t eat meat.
I think anyone who tries Szechuan 99 might declare it to be their new favorite Chinese restaurant. I know the flavors of their Szechuan cooking will have us returning many times.
6125 200th St. SW, Lynnwood; 425-774-9622
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Vegetarian options: Yes.