A relative newcomer to Flushing, Alley 41 is the brainchild of owner Yao Hua, who came to the US two decades ago from Sichuan province. He wanted to create an upscale restaurant reminiscent of Sichuan alleyways, which is why you’ll notice glass and metal screens, black matted dinnerware, and industrial chandeliers with tulip-shaped globes as soon as you walk in. But besides the unique design, Alley 41 is also home to some great food, like the thick sweet-and-sour noodles that are made in-house. The pork belly and cucumber rolls are another standout, and surprisingly refreshing, with a tart and spicy garlic sauce. The tender cumin lamb chops come with a mass of mala fries in the center (a fun alternative to stir-fried potatoes), making this dish the perfect thing to eat with your hands. Although the mapo tofu might seem boring compared to the more inventive dishes, it has some amazing layered heat and funkiness that reminds me of the best versions I’ve had in Chengdu.
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