Located on the second floor of the New World Mall in Flushing, DaXi is an ideal destination for a slightly lavish group dinner out. The gold walls have a scallop design reminiscent of Art Nouveau, and some of the cushier seats are upholstered with Chinese bird motifs on the back. Much of the food presentation also seems designed to be photographed, such as Tibet-style spare ribs served in a gilded birdcage and the house special rice with cured meat that comes in a giant cast-iron crock with a handle. But be sure to leave room for the brown sugar glutinous rice cakes, fried up in the shape of mozzarella sticks, with a light crunch on the outside and a soft and chewy middle.
Crispy Cucumber Roll
Pickled cucumbers are a standard on any Sichuan menu. Here, the cucumber is hollowed out so only the skin and top layer remain, then it’s layered with a garlic-and-chili vinegar sauce. Eating this appetizer is like being in one of those potato chip commercials with the exaggerated crunch sound effects, except this is real life.
Boiled Chicken in Spicy Sauce
Some of the best dishes at Daxi have the simplest presentations. Their rendition of mouth-watering chicken involves cold, sliced chicken that’s perfectly cooked with a hot numbing sauce that’ll really activate your saliva glands.
Get ready to have your mind blown by tofu. This version of mapo tofu is one of the best we’ve had in New York, and it rivals many of the ones you’ll find in Sichuan province. There’s ample chili paste heat and Sichuan pepper tingliness, and the silken tofu stays intact in the bowl but practically dissolves when you spoon it. Definitely order loads of rice to soak up the sauce.
Seafood Crispy Rice Soup
A giant mound of crispy rice served in a large bowl of broth, this may not be one of Daxi’s most exciting presentations—but dig in like an archeologist and you’ll unearth some surprising treasures, like baby shrimp and corn, all in a rich and smoky soup. Eat this hot before the rice loses its crunchiness.
House Special Rice and Cured Meat in Country Style
Served in a cast iron crock with a handle, this rustic preparation of country-style rice seems kind of plain at first, until you go digging and find all sorts of tasty bits that have sunken into the rice, like fatty pork, string beans, and potatoes. Don’t forget to scrape up the crispy rice on the bottom.
Brown Sugar Glutinous Rice Cake
Don’t pass up this dessert. Here, glutinous rice is fried in the shape of mozzarella sticks and stacked to be eaten with your hands. There’s a light crunch on the outside and a soft, chewy middle. Tip: Resist the urge to dig in when these are brought hot to the table; they’re crispier and airier after cooling off for a few minutes.