Hot Pepper Chicken Vinho Verde Bath at Lucky Strike

Ah Lucky Strike, fiercely fiery den of Sichuan peppercorn power. Until recently, if I craved a Lucky Strike blaze in my belly (pretty literally), I drove all the way out to SE Powell & 122nd and tried not to feel guilty for being sketched out by the restaurant’s shabby storefront, next to a cigarette store.

Last night, that changed, as Lucky Strike threw open the doors at its new location in the west wing of the Hawthorne Theatre, for a soft opening that was anything but–to my stomach lining at least.

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Lucky Strike doesn’t exactly announce its new presence–except for the red banner across the back door that’s largely obscured by the trees sheltering the patio, and a yellow sandwich board outside the front door, it blends seamlessly into the theatre building. But inside, the restaurant is a world away from its bohemian Hawthorne surroundings–with high gilded ceilings, red and black walls and a matching red and black leather and suede banquette, and a little bar tucked into the corner, which my friend Mona dubbed the “red light district.” Sparkling red chandeliers drip from the ceiling and energetic art hangs from the walls, or is painted on the walls, or just rests on the floor, yet to be hung.

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Our friendly, slightly frazzled server told us they hadn’t expected such a turnout, and that it was “mayhem” back in the kitchen. Nonetheless, after a slight delay in ordering, we received our dishes in a perfectly timely manner, and since we had $5 glasses of chilled vinho verde and excellent people-watching opportunities (our neighbors were a family of 10 who appeared to have ordered everything on the menu), we had no complaints. Co-owner Rita Jia You flitted about the dining room, beaming, socializing, delivering dishes and drinks and chopsticks, bringing checks, etc.

The menu has most of the dishes I remember from the old location. We were on dinner two of three (it was a research night), so we just went with a few classics–the scathingly spicy Hot Pepper Chicken Bath (one of my favorite dishes of all time), sweet tender Guinness Pork Ribs, the Dan Dan noodles, and the potstickers. All were delicious, but if you go, please don’t miss the Hot Pepper Chicken Bath, it’s a delight. Unless you have an ulcer. That would be uncomfortable.

Lucky Strike is open tonight from 5:30pm until 11pm or midnight. They update their Facebook page regularly, so check before you go for hours, specials, etc.

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Here is the menu:

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