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100 Favorite Houston Dishes 2015: No. 81, Red Oil Dumplings At Mala Sichuan

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Ask just about anyone who has been to Mala Sichuan Bistro what the must-order items are and they'll likely mention these big, chewy pockets of goodness.

The dumplings are handmade and quite sizable. They can even be a bit unwieldy, but that just means there’s more dumpling for swiping up the complex sauce. It’s not just a simple mixture of soy and red chili oil. It’s laced with fresh ginger and garlic hand-ground to a pulp before it’s mixed in.

The sauce is a gorgeous shade of red, but it’s less fiery than you might fear. Inside each is a little gem of spicy pork, but really, in this dish, it’s the sauce that’s the star. A generous smattering of sesame seeds adds nutty texture and chopped green onions lend a dash of contrasting color. 

The red oil chili dumplings are available at both the original Mala Sichuan location at 9348 Bellaire and the newer Montrose one at 1201 Westheimer.

There are eight to an order and they run only $3.95. It’s an affordable way to wake up your tongue and give it something to talk about.

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