Thanks! Peking duck Palo Alto has a 300+ item menu that covers a lot of territory. Amidst the cluttter, there does seem to be a Shanghainese theme (chicken feather vegetable, malantou, Hangzhou lion’s head meatballs, etc.), so I’ll categorize it as such. They also have a dish or two labeled Tianjin. As you suggested, other than Peking duck (do they do a traditional prep?), their Beijing offerings aren’t differentiated from a general northern Chinese restaurant.
Oh and I’ll think about putting a link to Beijing duck places if we can think of about places that do a traditional prep.
I’m interested to hear reports too! I grabbed a menu from Hangen a few weeks back, and they have nine untranslated items (some intestine dishes and two dry pot dishes for example). “Firecracker chicken” seems to be boneless Chongqing chicken. According to yelpers, you have to tell them that you want particular dishes “Sichuan style”, otherwise they get toned down. If that’s true, it sucks that there’s no indication of a two-tiered system on the menu. Such is life— there is often a clash between what chefs and restaurant owners want to make and what their customer base desires (see the movie Big Night).
What I like about many of the newer Sichuan places is they’re upfront about what they cook and may even have photos on the menu (albeit misleading photos at crappy places ). You can gain valuable tips from people on Hungry Onion, but a well organized menu makes exploration that much easier.