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In the two-plus years since I first wrote about Great Wall-Szechuan House, many others have chimed in on the tiny take-out on 14th Street NW near Logan Circle. The Washington Post‘s Tom Sietsema likes it. So does the paper’s Jane Black. The Washingtonian‘s Todd Kliman would rather take a pass.

As for me, I’m still an unwavering supporter of chef Chen Yuan’s traditional ma-la menu. You can’t go wrong his his ma-po tofu or his double-cooked pork in black bean sauce. But I recently stopped by Great Wall for lunch, where chef Chen introduced me to a new item on his menu—-a traditional Szechwan-style hot and sour soup. If you’re used to—-and totally bored with the standard wan version of this soup—-do yourself a favor and check out this barnburner of a bowl. It’s done the traditional way, with Chinese black vinegar, chili oil, and a ton of other ingredients. It’s one of the most complex soups I’ve ever had, just perfect for these cold months ahead.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery