Chile Nights

The fiery eats of Café China

For being located in a no-man's-land, Café China sure tastes a lot like the Sichuan Province of China.

The new restaurant from husband-and-wife owners Xian Zhang and Yiming Wang is unrelenting in its commitment to serving unadulterated Chinese food. The pair has Chef Liao to thank for that.

Wang's design is modeled after Shanghai in the 1930s, but Liao, a veteran of Midtown's Lan Sheng, is cooking the doubly pepper-blasted cuisine of central China.

Begin with the mouthwatering chicken ($9), a tender bird that was poached before being assaulted with a flood of chile oil and garnished with peanuts and sesame seeds.

Let the conflagration subside slightly by ordering the dan dan noodles ($6), then dip back into the flame wall with ma po tofu ($11). In it, cubes of tofu are awash with ground pork, a cavalcade of red chile and a wallop of Sichuan's iconic tingling peppercorn.

Consider, too, the spicy cumin lamb ($19), in which the musky aroma of northern Chinese cuisine merges with a chile kick.

For relief, order a plate of ginger-laced bitter melon and many bowls of rice.

Café China, 13 E. 37th St. (at Fifth Ave.); 212-213-2810 or cafechinanyc.com