Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine

Featured Image: Mel Lhuillier | Marlin Chronicle

On the inside of Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine, the walls are beautifully painted with murals depicting traditional Chinese women and bao dumplings. Each table is set with intricately designed blue and white plates and silverware with chopsticks.

The style of dining at Judy’s is different from your ordinary dinner spot. Food is presented family style with larger portions and is meant to be served to each person on their individual plates. 

“We like to serve our food as traditional as possible,” Judy Sun, the owner, said. The idea behind their style dates back to the traditional Chinese way of living. “We like to serve the authentic way,” Sun said. 

When asked what the most popular dish was, Judy had a hard time coming up with one. “Everybody is different, it’s hard to say,” Sun said. Their menu, while only a few pages long, offers a wide variety of dishes that caters to vegans, vegetarians and most food allergies.

“We have something for everyone, tofu, vegetables, noodles,” Sun said. Judy prides herself on their options which all stay true to the traditional flavor profile of Sichuan cuisine and says that what “tastes good [is] most important.” 

Xiaolongbao, steamed buns, from Judy’s which is located in Town Center. Kylea McCarel | Marlin Chronicle

Dining at Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine is an experience like no other Chinese food restaurant. “We didn’t know what to expect for our first time,” Chandler Howrey, a Virginia Beach resident, said. 

Upon entering the establishment, Howrey and his friend were immediately welcomed with a smile and sat at the last open table. “It was really busy for seven on a Sunday night,” Howrey said. Their waitress greeted them fairly quickly despite a busy dinner service.

Ordering is quite easy as each menu item is accompanied by a small description for customers unfamiliar with the dish. “Our waitress let us know the food is served family style so we decided on hot and sour noodles and soup dumplings to share,” Howrey said. 

One of the dishes they ordered, “Xiao-long-bao” or soup dumplings, can take anywhere from fifteen to twenty minutes to make. The chefs in the kitchen individually prepare all eight small dumplings by hand, made to order. The outer shell is a softly steamed wonton wrapper with a variety of fillings. The most popular soup dumpling is made with a pork mixture.

Each must be made with an exact amount of filling and soup so they don’t burst before eaten. The technique to create these special dumplings is traditional and takes practice to make perfect. They are served piping hot in a bamboo steamer basket. “The food here is nothing like the usual Chinese takeout, it’s so much better,” Howrey said.  

The other dish Howrey’s group ordered, hot and sour noodles, calls for the use of the sichuan pepper. Dating all the way back to 221 BC, the style of Sichuan cuisine is one that’s been popular for thousands of years throughout Chinese history. Focusing on the unique flavor profile of the sichuan pepper, this cuisine is like no other.

The versatile pepper can be grown in two varieties. While the green sichuan pepper has a more mild taste than the red pepper, both are highly desired. The sichuan pepper in both colors creates a tingling sensation in the mouth and a slight numbing feeling on the tongue due to the presence of hydroxy-alpha sanshool. This particular sanshool is a molecule found in many Chinese herbs and plants. The citrus-like flavor in combination with the tingling effect is what makes Sichuan cuisine so popular. 

Judy’s hot and sour noodles take on a flavor that is different from what typical taste buds are used to in American cuisine. The citrus flavor from the sichuan pepper combined with rice wine vinegar creates a sour taste while also combining with chili oil for heat. 

This dish is popular with more experienced Chinese food eaters due to the intense flavor profile and tingly numbing sensation. All waitresses at Judy’s Sichuan are highly informative on the effects and flavors of all dishes before serving.

The food at Judy’s Sichuan Cuisine can become habit forming and ruin your usual Chinese takeout order as nothing will compare to their immense flavors and fantastic service. You will no longer be able to settle for less than Judy’s when ordering on a Friday night in.

With two locations open, be sure to stop by and say hi to Judy as she is always working and happy to see you. The Virginia Beach location is a short drive from campus, near Town Center and a full online menu is also available on their website at www.judyssichuancuisine.com.

By Kylea McCarel