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Grand Sichuan International


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#241 ghostrider

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 04:38 PM

Any updates on the qualities/virtues of the St Marks location vs Chelsea location?

Friends of ours are raving about the Chelsea spot & we're planning an outing, but I'm realizing that St Marks is pretty much equidistant from where they live, so I'm wondering.

Further uptown is not an option, I'll have to save the Hell's Kitchen version for another occasion.

Thanks.
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#242 kurl

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 05:04 PM

I went for dinner on Friday. Since I hadn't eaten Grand Sichuan's food in a while -- this was the first time I went to the Midtown location, though last year I ordered food for delivery a couple of times a week as I was working nearby -- I ordered my favorites: beef tendon with hot pepper sauce, kung bao (with fresh chicken), and sour string beans with pork. Everything was excellent. Actually, the tendon made my lips tingle with the strange burn of Sichuan peppercorns more than it had before. Could it have anything to do with this?

Does anyone know if that Web site's claim is true? Perhaps it allowed GSI to get fresher peppercorns.

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I don't have an answer to your question, but my last visit (in January) *definitely* featured peppercorns of a potency I hadn't had in my other 6-7 trips there.

#243 waves2ya

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 06:39 PM

Any updates on the qualities/virtues of the St Marks location vs Chelsea location?

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(edit: Chelsea)

Had the Aui Zhou Chicken about 2 weeks ago and the memories of the pepper make my tongue weak. Was almost medicinal in quality - but I couldn't keep away from the alluring tart, then overwhelmingly pungent quality of the dish...

A note - they had only been open for about an hour. I'll bet later in the day the spices blend more predicably (and as I've had them before).

But that taste - really extraordinary...

Edited by waves2ya, 21 February 2005 - 06:51 PM.

~waves

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#244 Pan

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Posted 21 February 2005 - 06:49 PM

First of all, I've had a dish that I believe was marked "seasonal" and probably not exactly part of the New Years menu, at the St. Marks branch, and liked: I think it was called "Red Spinach." I had something else that was definitely from the New Years menu, but I don't remember the dish. It was pretty good but tasted kind of buttery, something that's true of various dishes at the St. Marks branch, and which I don't favor.

Comparison of the Chelsea and St. Marks locations:

Both very good, though I think the Midtown location is better than either. The Chelsea location's menu is more similar to that of their Midtown location (c. 50th and 9th) than the St. Marks location's. The St. Marks location features more Hunan-style food. I think you'd like either branch. I can make specific recommendations of some St. Marks dishes I've had, if you like. For the Chelsea location, you'd do pretty well to get most anything recommended for the Midtown location.

#245 ghostrider

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 11:44 AM

Thanks for the perspective. We're still a month or so away from this dinner. If there's a movement toward St. Marks I'll post, otherwise I'll re-check this thread before we head to Chelsea.
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#246 ghostrider

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Posted 22 February 2005 - 11:59 AM

For some reason, New York has never had a lot of restaurants that specialize in Shanghai cooking.  (Anyone remember Say Eng Look?  I used to go there a lot, and it was practically the only Shanghai-ese restaurant I knew about.  Great food--I still remember it vividly, and miss it.)  And from my limited contact with Shanghai cooking, I would venture to say that Szechwan cooking is nothing like it.  In fact, it seems to me to be about as far away from it as it could be with both cuisines still being recognizable as Chinese food.

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Stumbled on this now year-old post last night, had to come back & say yes, I remember Say Eng Look vividly too. It was indeed great.
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#247 jogoode

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 03:44 PM

I was meeting friends for dinner last Wednesday and trying to decide between Congee Village (cheap and good and thus a good way to impress my friends from NJ) and GSI (cheap and different from anything they've had before). I chose the latter, though as soon as we sat down, one friend expressed his preference for anything that's "not too weird" and "not spicy." Good choice, JJ. My unadventurous friend ordered wonton soup and sesame chicken. The chicken was good.

My other friend, whom I had brought to GSI for his first time last week, and I ordered double-cooked pork with sweet black bean sauce, spicy and sour squid, beef tendon with hot pepper sauce, and "sauteed and dry string bean" -- all dishes, except for the green beans, I've had and enjoyed from GSI before. The squid is definitely a favorite of mine: cucumber, a water chestnut-like vegetable, and intricately scored and very tender nuggets of squid. I ordered the green bean dish because of my experience with a similarly named dish at Szechuan Gourmet, the Manhattan branch of a Flushing Sichuan restaurant that I visited for an article I was writing for TONY. I figured that if GSI makes the dish in a way that is at all similar to the way it's made at Szechuan Gourmet, then it is guaranteed to be amazing. At GSI, it was a bit different -- they use strings beans instead of long beans and pork instead of salty fish. But the concept is the same: green beans cooked until they're soft and sweet and teamed with little bits of something salty. I prefer the version at SG, but it was the one dish at GSI that both my unadventurous friend and I would order again. The meal cost $50, and we could have skipped one of the main dishes and been just as full.

What should I try next time I go? I keep ordering the same stuff.
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#248 kurl

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Posted 25 February 2005 - 04:18 PM

What should I try next time I go? I keep ordering the same stuff.

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I've really enjoyed the tea-smoked duck, the whole fish items, the cured pork (though I understand that there are other places that may do it better), and the non-spicy fresh chicken with mushrooms dish -- something that was very good, despite being very non-GSIish.

#249 jogoode

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 10:24 AM

What should I try next time I go? I keep ordering the same stuff.

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I've really enjoyed the tea-smoked duck, the whole fish items, the cured pork (though I understand that there are other places that may do it better), and the non-spicy fresh chicken with mushrooms dish -- something that was very good, despite being very non-GSIish.

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Good suggestions, Ben. Especially because these are dishes that my friends wouldn't feel squeamish about ordering.
JJ Goode

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"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

#250 lia

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Posted 26 February 2005 - 03:49 PM

Had the Aui Zhou Chicken about 2 weeks ago and the memories of the pepper make my tongue weak.  Was almost medicinal in quality - but I couldn't keep away from the alluring tart, then overwhelmingly pungent quality of the dish...

But that taste - really extraordinary...



I am addicted to the AuiZhou Chicken and Dan Dan noodles like nothing I've ever eaten. (What's that odd looking stalky veggie thing in the chicken dish?)

I also love the szechuan peppercorns, but my husband, while he loves hot hot food, can't stand them. I was hysterical at his face the first time he got one full force.

#251 neep

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 11:20 AM

I've always been happy with Grand Sichuan (at least, I have to say, in Chinatown and the West side). Recently a friend mentioned "another queens sichuan restaurant has opened in midtown." I can't track it down. Does this ring any bells? (I could ask my friend. I'm asking you instead).

#252 jogoode

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 11:39 AM

I've always been happy with Grand Sichuan (at least, I have to say, in Chinatown and the West side). Recently a friend mentioned "another queens sichuan restaurant has opened in midtown."  I can't track it down.  Does this ring any bells? (I could ask my friend.  I'm asking you instead).

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Probably Szechuan Gourmet. I wrote an article for Time Out New York that mentioned it. I thought it was pretty good.
JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!
www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

#253 Avumede

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 07:53 AM

So, really, what is the deal with the different locations and the special menus described here (and on their website, http://www.thegrandsichuan.com). I often order out from the 24th & 9th location, and once asked about the diced rabbit dish I saw on the website, but was told they didn't have that. Similarly, I went to the location in St. Mark's Place, and there was no special menu, just the same menu they use for delivery.

From the website, it seemed that each location shared a common menu, and either had it's own special dishes, or had no special dishes. Is this true? If so, that's unfortunate because some of the special dishes looked very good. Even if 24th and 9th had it's own special dishes, has anyone had any luck ordering them over the phone?

#254 Pan

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Posted 04 March 2005 - 06:01 PM

The St. Marks branch does have some special menus that don't make the delivery menu, such as the one with New Years dishes.

I would have to disagree that all branches have the same menu. There is considerable variation between the 50th/9th menu and the St. Marks menu. And I've even occasionally ordered off-menu items for delivery.

#255 neep

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Posted 05 March 2005 - 09:17 PM

I've always been happy with Grand Sichuan (at least, I have to say, in Chinatown and the West side). Recently a friend mentioned "another queens sichuan restaurant has opened in midtown."  I can't track it down.  Does this ring any bells? (I could ask my friend.  I'm asking you instead).

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Probably Szechuan Gourmet. I wrote an article for Time Out New York that mentioned it. I thought it was pretty good.

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That sounds like the one. Thank you. Will have to visit and sample their tendon.

#256 jogoode

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Posted 06 March 2005 - 11:26 AM


Probably Szechuan Gourmet. I wrote an article for Time Out New York that mentioned it. I thought it was pretty good.

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That sounds like the one. Thank you. Will have to visit and sample their tendon.

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After a few recent trips to Grand Sichuan, I'd say that Szechuan Gourmet's tendon is not one the level of Grand Sichuan's. But I did prefer SG's version of "sauteed and dry string beans".
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www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

#257 Pork Neck

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 08:30 AM

From an Amazon.com interview with Mario Batali:

http://www.amazon.co...5446519-8535260

Amazon.com: Do you order take-out much?

Batali: In a beautiful way a new restaurant has changed our life. It's called Grand Sichuan. There's one on 55th Street, there's one on 24th Street, and now there's one on 8th Street, just about four blocks away. It's remarkably legitmate Szechuan and Hunan cooking by a group of people that's--it's just so different than the rest of American take-out Chinese. I literally ordered out there three times last week. So f--king good you would die

#258 bpearis

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:06 AM

The Saint Marks branch has become my go-to GS location, mainly because of location, but having been to both 9th ave locations recently I think it's maybe the best overall right now.

I went to a birthday dinner there two weeks ago and we had a full-on banquet, about 20 dishes in all. Half cold appetizers, half hot mains, everything was great. I can't remember everything now, but a cold dish of tripe in chili oil stood out, as did a baked whole fish in chili sauce and a not-on-the-menu braised pork dish. There were ten of us and the whole meal was $25 a person. The only thing I didn't like was they included soup dumplings, which are okay there but not anything as special as the sichuan dishes.
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#259 Pork Neck

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 09:57 AM

Bpearis-did you arrange a pre-set menu for the banquet? I've gone with groups of 8-12 on a multitude of occasions, always crafting our own menu of favorites. I think, considering value, it might be my favorite restaurant in NYC.

Can you tell us more about the braised pork dish?

#260 bpearis

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 10:07 AM

Bpearis-did you arrange a pre-set menu for the banquet?  I've gone with groups of 8-12 on a multitude of occasions, always crafting our own menu of favorites.  I think, considering value, it might be my favorite restaurant in NYC. 

Can you tell us more about the braised pork dish?

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It was a pre-set menu. My friend whose birthday it was is Chinese-American and she arranged the whole thing with the chef, set the price, etc. I really liked this way as we got all sorts of things I might never have ordered. All the cold appetizers were sort of a revelation -- when I normally go, we don't get that many (even though I know that's a big part of Szechaun food) so to have ten or so to try was amazing. There was also a pork belly dish that was awesome, though some at the table had problems eating what was basically pure fat.

The braised pork dish was somewhat similar to the red cooking pork w/chesnuts from the mao menu, but it was in some kind of chili sauce with a vegetable that I don't remember. There was so much food I can't recall the details.
"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

#261 Pan

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 11:22 PM

I may just be the St. Marks branch's best customer, at least for deliveries. The cashier has memorized my name, address, and telephone number already. So you know I'm really happy they're there, but my impression is that the ~50th St. location is still the best.

#262 bpearis

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 01:32 PM

Hey Pan,

Going there this evening for an early dinner. You have any recommendations from the Hunan portion of the menu? Or anything else that is a must-order? Though I've been there a bunch I'm always looking for something new.
"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

#263 Pan

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 02:24 PM

I have favorites I get repeatedly, and they're just for me, as I have yet to go to that branch with company. That said, here are some recommendations, including only dishes I have tried and particularly liked at this branch:

18. Sichuan Dan Dan Noodle

19. Sichuan Cold Noodle

23. Ox Tongue & Tripe w. Spicy Peppery Sauce

24. Beef w. Spicy Peppery Sauce

They also sometimes have beef tendon that can be made in the same style. If you want the tendon, ask whether they have it.

111. Sweet & Sour Lotus Roots

Any of the Steamed Spicy Dishes (my favorite is the turnip)

140. Fish & Sour Cabbage in a Little Hot Wok (I get this more often than anything else)

147. Diced Lotus Roots w. Spicy Black Bean

158. Sauteed Chinese Red Spinach

There are a bunch of other dishes I assume are good because they're excellent at the two 9th Av. branches.

#264 Stone

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 03:16 PM

19. Sichuan Cold Noodle

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I find that their cold noodles have an acrid bitterness to them, perhaps from the chillis. I think some people prefer this.

#265 Pan

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 03:29 PM

19. Sichuan Cold Noodle

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I find that their cold noodles have an acrid bitterness to them, perhaps from the chillis. I think some people prefer this.

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I don't think of it as acrid or bitter but I do like them. Those ain't no insipid stuff.

#266 Daniel

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 06:27 AM

Went to Grand Sichuan last night.. Just wanted tell of a great dish I had for the first time there.. Got the Crispy Quail.. It was just fried quail on a bed of lettuce.. It was excellent.. Highly seasoned, crispy, they used a light batter.. This might be NY's best fried chickenish /quail..

#267 Pan

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 03:15 PM

This was at the 50th St. location, right? I like the quail, too.

#268 AzianBrewer

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 05:43 PM

19. Sichuan Cold Noodle

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I find that their cold noodles have an acrid bitterness to them, perhaps from the chillis. I think some people prefer this.

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I don't think of it as acrid or bitter but I do like them. Those ain't no insipid stuff.

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The bitterness might be from the grounded Szechuan peppercorn. The Taiwanese called it MaLa or "Numb Spicy. Is that the sensation that your getting??
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#269 Daniel

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Posted 03 September 2005 - 07:34 AM

This was at the 50th St. location, right? I like the quail, too.

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Yeh that was at the 50th and 9th location.. When I am in town I go there at least once a week..

#270 Eric_Malson

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Posted 17 October 2005 - 12:27 AM

It was an almost nippy evening--the first real hint of autumn this year--and my thoughts turned to chili peppers. Since I hadn't been there in a while (almost two weeks!), I went to the Grand Sichuan at 9th and 50th this evening. For some reason, be it the weather or the cook on rotation--I don't know, it was particularly satisfying tonight.

Since I was alone, the scope of dishes was naturally a lot more limited than usual, but it also meant that I was inspired to order a dish I don't usually get when I'm with other people because it's rather a lot of work to eat--the cold appetizer diced rabbit with hot and peppery sauce. I forget that this is really one of my very favorite dishes here....somehow the synthesis of the diced rabbit meat (bone in, which is why this is so difficult to eat--those little bone pieces can be quite tricky to eat around), peanuts, diced scallion, cucumber and spicy sauce is almost perfect. And when they say "hot and peppery sauce", they ain't kidding around. For you red pepper fans, it's one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. The only dish I can think of I've tried that's consistently hotter is the pickled cabbage in red oil cold appetizer.

Of course, the ma po tofu tonight kicked some serious ass, too, but I just thought I'd take a moment to pay tribute to a beloved menu item here that I tend to neglect.
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