This week, I visit Famous Szechuan Pavilion (8615 Olive Boulevard, University City; 314-685-0888), the one-of-a-kind restaurant that relocated earlier this year from its original drive-thru spot in Brentwood to St. Louis' strip mall without culinary equal, Jeffrey Plaza.
Here's what I know about the owner and chef of Famous Szechuan Pavilion. Her name is Xin Lin. She's from the Szechuan province of China. There, she tells me, she was number one in her class. I believe she means culinary school, but here again our mutual language barrier is a tall and forbidding as that wall of ice in Game of Thrones.
I know that when she first opened her restaurant last year -- in the unlikeliest of locations, an abandoned drive-through snow-cone hut on Manchester Road in Brentwood -- she was often the sole employee. If you took your meal there, at one of the very few seats inside the hut, you were essentially eating in her kitchen, and she served you as your food was ready. If you took your food to go, as soon as you opened up the Styrofoam container in you car or at your office desk or at home and took a bite, you experienced a moment of delicious disorientation: Something this good and this far removed from your everyday culinary worldview came from an abandoned drive-through snow-cone hut in Brentwood?
Visit Gut Check tomorrow to read the review and see a slideshow of Famous Szechuan Pavilion.