Review Preview: Joy Luck Buffet

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JENNIFER SILVERBERG
  • Jennifer Silverberg
This week, inspired by a couple of reader comments on this review, I ventured to Joy Luck Buffet to try the "authentic menu." Follow me after the jump for a sneak preview of what I found.

Have you ever eaten a Szechuan peppercorn? If you need to think before answering the question, then you almost certainly haven't. Eating a Szechuan peppercorn -- which is not an actual peppercorn but the dried husk of a tiny fruit -- is as singular an experience as having sex or driving in St. Louis after a snowstorm. There are no analogies. Yes, you might describe the aroma as floral and the flavor as lemony, but that is beside the point. It is the sensation that overwhelms you, a numbing tingle that spreads gradually but unavoidably across your lips and tongue. This effect is bracing enough by itself, but when you use Szechuan peppercorns as a seasoning, they elevate already pungent and fiery dishes to a point of exquisite intensity.
Visit the RFT restaurant page late tomorrow afternoon or check back here Wednesday morning to read the entire review.