As others have noted, La Vie en Szechuan is a frivolous name for a nonfrivolous restaurant. Indeed, the folks here take their spices very, very seriously, and at least one chef came out to see which yokel wanted to test the kitchen's mettle by ordering not only the clear noodles with Szechuan chili sauce (top photo), a boiling orangy sea of oil, garlic, and peppercorns, but also the spicy chicken with fried twists (bottom photo), spilling out from an actual basket.
We keep coming back to that second dish. Oh, the crab and asparagus soup was fine, and the crystal shrimp dumplings decidedly destination-worthy, thanks to their plump salty innards. But the spicy chicken demonstrated such a deftness, such a thoughtful consideration of textures, from the chilis to the slightly sweet twists, such a manipulation of the thin line that separates pleasure and pain in the human brain. Really, it is we who should have gone to ogle the chef, to say thank you and more, please, although it's the rare addict who thanks his/her pusher.