Except for the telenovela playing silently above the bar, no sight at this Sichuan restaurant was more incongruous than the land-sea combo called farmer's braised whole fish ($21.95). Though it's credited as a "traditional" menu item, I've found scant evidence for so dramatically upending the produce wagon atop one lonely fish, also likely farmed. It's not tilapia, said our server, who could add no more than that it had black skin and white flesh; the flavor was very mild, verging on bland. But both fish and vegetables were well-treated by the thin sauce, spicy with a sweet undercurrent, lapping all around the edges. We picked this plate uncommonly clean.
Also shown: Northern Sichuan style bean jelly ($6.95); sour and hot sweet potato noodles ($6.95), glass vermicelli that were frustratingly elusive amid the greens, peanuts, and sprouts; famous Sichuan pickled vegetables ($5.95), an ensemble with radishes in a featured role; pork dumplings in chili oil ($6.95); "dry spicy tasty diced chicken with ginger and peanut" ($14.95), to which "salty" must be added, at least on this evening; and sauteed homemade bacon with green leeks ($13.95), one of several similar, equally tempting dishes.
88 Seventh Ave. (15th-16th Sts.)