Eat } Ma Po Tofu At Great Wall

Of all the new, trendy places popping up like shiitake mushrooms on 14th Street, I have a special place in my heart for the frill-free Great Wall Szechuan House. Or should I say a special place on my tongue.

You see, Great Wall specializes in Chinese ma la dishes. English translation? Numbing and hot. The numbing feeling, which is the most accurate description of what happens to your tongue and sometimes, by extension, your lips, comes from Sichuan peppercorns and chiles in the signature sauce.

Those little clip-art chile peppers printed out beside the ma la dishes on my sauce-stained takeout menu don't quite get the point across.

At least every other week, I call for an order of the ma po tofu ($8.95) from Great Wall's ma la menu. Once the order reaches the front door — often with astonishing speed (didn't I just hang up the phone) — my husband and I hover over our bowls of trembling hunks of tofu, chopsticks in one hand, tissue in the other, sniffling and hissing as the tingling takes over. And let me tell ya, it hurts so good.

A cold beer helps, but the faint of heart need not apply.

Great Wall Szechuan House
1527 14th St. NW