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Restaurant Happenings  July 2003

Szechuan Restaurant - A Taste of Asia in Moab
by Annabelle Numaguchi

Nestled in the heart of Moab, where Main Street crosses Mill Creek, Szechuan Restaurant provides a sampler of authentic Asian cuisine. Attracted to Moab for its small, cozy community, Yun Ming and Jeannie Huang opened the restaurant in 1997. After running two similar style restaurants in Arizona for the previous fifteen years, they were ready to move to a small town. There were no Chinese restaurants in Moab at the time, so they decided the town fit their needs, and consequently, Szechuan Restaurant filled an empty niche.

Their extensive experience in running restaurants is evident in the popularity of the Szechuan Restaurant. The main menu offers over fifty items which include seafood, beef, chicken, vegetarian and an assortment of well-known Chinese dishes. One of the house specials is the Hot Pot, a filling meal that comes in five combinations and consists of cooking the meat, seafood and vegetables in a simmering sauce at the table. Another delicious meal is Moo Shu, described on the menu as “tender shredded meat sauteed with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, egg and cabbage, served with four Peking pancakes.” Huang ensures the authenticity and flavor of the food at Szechuan Restaurant by teaching his staff to cook his recipes himself.

In keeping with traditional expectations for a Chinese restaurant, Szechuan Restaurant offers take out and a copious lunch buffet. The lunch menu, which differs from the dinner but still includes thirty-eight choices, is a particularly great bargain for hungry customers. Each entree is served with an eggroll, soup, rice and wontons. For diners looking for a less exotic taste, Szechuan Restaurant also offers traditional American food, such as T-bone steak, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and cheesecake.

Apparently, there are plenty of diners in Moab looking for something out of the ordinary. In response to customer requests, the Huangs have recently expanded the offerings of Asian food in Moab by opening a sushi counter, replete with fresh tuna, salmon, octopus, seaweed salad and Japanese sake. Harper Tsai, a longtime friend of the Huangs, all three of whom are originally from Taiwan, accepted the invitation to move to Moab and run the sushi side of things.

Before arriving at Szechuan Restaurant, Tsai spent ten years in Japan, where he learned to prepare sashimi and sushi, to establish himself in a foreign culture and to speak fluent Japanese. He is now applying his honed skills with raw fish and vinegared rice in the back room of the Szechuan Restaurant, which is decorated with kimono, koinobori (fish kites flown for celebrations) and paper lanterns.

Tsai demonstrates his expertise in running a sushi counter with the quick, efficient movements of a long-apprenticed chef. He smoothly slides from pressing the rice in his hands to making precise cuts in the fish to tightly binding the nori, seaweed, rolls over an array of mouthwatering combinations. The sushi rolls incorporate traditional Japanese ingredients, such as smoked eel, tuna, cucumber and tempura, along with creative additions, such as avocado, cream cheese and asparagus. Each roll is served with a side of green wasabi and pink pickled ginger, making each creation an artwork as well as a tempting palate-pleaser.

Tsai specializes in creating marvelous dishes that are both authentic in their ingredients and tantalizing to western appetites. Although Tsai has demonstrated a proficiency in sushi preparation, his cooking skills are not limited to one type of cuisine. Two of his specialties are Taiwanese Fried Crispy Chicken, a rich spicy dish, and Mango Mayo Shrimp, a tangy combination of sweet and sour. His understanding of a variety of ethnic foods is reflected in his deft ability to mix flavors and textures in such appealing ways.

For a quick sampling of Asian food in Moab, Szechuan Restaurant offers a fresh and varied menu that ranges from traditional Mandarin dishes to Japanese sushi. The Huangs have broadened the possible dining options in Moab while finding the comforts of a small community by moving here. By all means, the Szechuan Restaurant is a good fit here, bringing a taste of Asia to a small town in Utah.

Szechuan Restaurant is located at 105 South Main and can be reached at 259-8984.

They serve breakfast from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner until 10 p.m., 7 days a week. Entrees range in price from $6 to $16. Take out available.



Recipe of the Month

Taiwanese Fried Crispy Chicken
by Harper Tsai

Szechuan Restaurant


1 lb. chicken
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. white pepper (used in marinade and seasoning)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sweet potato powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder (preferably Japanese Dongadashi)
1/8 tsp. Chinese Flower Chili powder
1/8 tsp. Chinese Mixed Herbs powder

• Slice chicken breast in small pieces and marinate for 2 hours in the mixture of milk, eggs, salt, sugar and 1/2 tsp. of the white pepper.

• Remove the chicken pieces and coat them in a mixture of cornstarch and sweet potato powder. Fry in oil in wok.

• After the chicken is fried, toss the pieces in with 1/2 tsp. each of black and white pepper, chili powder, Chinese Flower Chili powder and Chinese Mixed Herbs powder. Serve hot.

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