An inauthentic tropical roadhouse: That’s how chef Sophina Uong describes her raucous New Orleans restaurant Mister Mao. “We do global food stuff from all all over the environment,” she claims. “Not honing in on just one specific nation, but we lean into Mexican, Southeast Asian, Indian we just really set our individual twist on it.” Almost nothing, the menu guarantees, is “off limitations.”

When the restaurant opened in July 2021, “everyone was completely ready to just bash,” Uong says. “Not because it’s New Orleans,” but mainly because every person preferred a area to hang out with their girlfriends. “There’s a large amount of screaming, a lot of bridal showers, loads of glitter and sequins, which I’m truly stoked on,” Uong states. She sees Mister Mao as celebratory, and aspect of her aim in opening the restaurant was to develop a area exactly where customers of the hospitality market could manage to have a very good time. “We preferred a loud, boisterous position,” she suggests, the type of position “you can prevent by and it [isn’t] so pricey that you [can’t] occur extra usually than once a year.”

The dish that arguably most effective sums up Mister Mao’s determination to fun and affordability is Meat on Tiny Sticks, chunk-sized parts of lamb served on small skewers. (“We have quirky names for factors, like we contact burrata ‘the White Claw of cheese,’” Uong points out the dish is also referred to as Sichuan-design and style toothpick lamb.) The lamb is speedily fried and seasoned with Uong’s Toothpick Hearth Dust, a sweet, spicy, citric acid-spiked powder. The mixture was motivated by the cumin lamb noodles at New York City’s Xi’an Well-known Food items. “That was my 1st introduction to lamb and cumin and chiles like that, like in a very intense, effective, significant way,” Uong claims. Any Fire Dust still left about from the recipe can be employed in a myriad of methods: It will work on any meat, in jambalaya, as seasoning for fried inexperienced tomatoes or crispy fried shrimp, and stirred into bloody marys.

The place these cumin lamb noodles are slick and oily — well worth using your time with, with plenty of napkins in hand — these skewers are far more quickly snackable, earning them best for, say, a Tremendous Bowl get together. Just be mindful if you are ingesting, Uong notes: “​​I have witnessed persons taking in the total toothpick. Sometimes we just have to remind them.”

Sichuan-Design and style Toothpick Lamb Recipe

Makes approximately 80 toothpick-sized skewers


For the Toothpick Hearth Dust:

2 ½ tablespoons freshly ground cumin powder
1 ½ tablespoons freshly ground arbol chile
1 ½ tablespoons Sichuan pink pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 ½ tablespoons salt
½ teaspoon finely floor citric acid

For the lamb skewers:

2 pounds lamb (ideally shoulder)
1 ½ tablespoons freshly toasted floor cumin powder
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 ½ tablespoons gluten-totally free tamari
1 ½ tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
Vegetable or other neutral oil
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Skewers or toothpicks


Step 1: Make the Hearth Dust by combining the toasted cumin, floor arbol chile, Sichuan crimson pepper flakes, sugar, salt, and citric acid in a bowl. Transfer to an airtight container. This will continue to keep for roughly 2 weeks.

Move 2: Pat the lamb dry with a paper towel before slicing. Slice the lamb throughout the grain into roughly ½-inch-thick slices and then lower into 1-by-2-inch chunk-sized items. Incorporate the cumin, cornstarch, tamari, and rice wine in a bowl, then incorporate the slice lamb and combine very well.

Stage 3: Marinate the lamb for at minimum 30 minutes and then skewer with toothpicks.

Step 4: Warmth up a frying pan with a very little vegetable or other neutral oil (I use about 2 tablespoons) over medium-higher warmth. Fry the skewered lamb pieces in batches for about 5 minutes each individual or till properly browned and slightly crisp. Change the skewers as you fry to make sure even browning insert more oil if your lamb parts are lean.

Stage 5: Area the cooked lamb on a serving plate. Season with Hearth Dust and garnish with cilantro. Provide heat.

Louiie Victa is a chef, recipe developer, food stuff photographer, and stylist living in Las Vegas.
Recipe examined by Louiie Victa