For every foodie snapping a shot of another jaw-dropping gustatory discovery—beef stomach in Szechwan sauce or aromatic chicken feet—there are at least two diners at this northwestside Asian standard who actually grew up eating these delicacies. As intermediaries, the smiling servers are hardly fazed. They know they have the local lock on authentic Chinese dishes: twice-cooked pork belly shimmering in a tangy-sweet sauce; silky eggplant redolent of garlic or basil; perhaps the lightest seafood soup in the city. Chili oil–drenched options such as Dan Dan noodles and spicy popcorn chicken challenge timid palates, but the whole table will enjoy full-flavored duck, steamed whole sea bass, and a host of familiar stir-fries fit for a hearty lunch or a celebratory dinner.
SUM OF ITS PARTS: Though the rolling carts don’t appear on weekdays, Szechwan Garden’s plentiful dim sum offerings are available every day and rival those of big-city Chinatown institutions.
HIGH AND DRY: Despite their somewhat misleading name, dry-pot dishes featuring everything from chicken to frog legs pack maximum flavor into a concentrated broth.
GROUP AFFAIR: Booths along the panoramic front windows are great for couples, but a host of round tables can seat bigger parties, as can private rooms with optional karaoke in the back.
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3649 Lafayette Rd., 317-328-2888, szechwangardenindianapolis.com
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This article appeared in the May 2014 issue.