Spicy Sichuan Dishes - Hot Kitchen | East Village, NYC

Hot Kitchen lives up to its name

For years, seekers of spice hiked to Flushing for an authentic face-numbing experience.

Now you can put away those Metrocards: Legitimate Sichuan food has a new homeā€“in an unlikely storefront in the East Village. Hot Kitchen looks like your average takeout joint, but inside, the skillful chefs prepare fantastically ma la, or "spicy and mouth-numbing" Sichuanese dishes that rival any outer-borough destination.

The marquee dish here is the group-friendly Chengdu-style hot pot (soup base $8, toppings $3-$10 each). Table-side cauldrons are filled with spicy broth and fresh cook-them-yourself ingredients, which range from thinly sliced beef and tofu to quivering plates of tripe and blood curd.

If a hot pot won't cure what ails you, the menu is full of other chile-laced items. An appetizer of vermicelli-like "hot and sour sweet potato noodles" ($6.50) arrives doused in hot oil and topped with ground beef, peanuts and fresh cilantro; a stunning tray of broiled whole fish ($22) is served on a bed of roasted whole chiles and sliced lotus root.

Milder palates can try the village steamed pork with preserved mustard greens (pictured; $14): slices of braised belly arranged around pungent pickled vegetables with a side of that Momofuku-sanctioned accoutrement: steamed buns.

Looks like Hot Kitchen is settling into the East Village quite nicely.

Hot Kitchen, 104 Second Ave. (at E. Sixth St.); 212-228-3090 or hotkitchenny.com