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Pan

Grand Sichuan International

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Pan   

Admin: An archive of 2001-2003 Grand Sichuan International discussion may be found here.

I had an excellent pre-Chinese New Year's dinner tonight at Grand Sichuan (9 Av. between 50th and 51st).

I started with the 2nd of the dishes for the Prodigal Daughter, which deserves to be on my list of Favorite Chinese Restaurant Dishes in New York. Amazing raw vegetable dish, probably done better than the best examples I've had at the Chelsea branch. Slices of garlic and scallions, shreds of hot green pepper and what I believe to be extremely fresh celery (no carrots, unlike in the Chelsea branch), in a very spicy sauce that includes hot pepper oil, vinegar, and soy sauce (but that might not be the whole thing).

My main dish was a special dish for Chinese New Year's. It was a great chicken dish - a sour and spicy dish, but not nearly as spicy as the cold dish. If you order it, don't be afraid of the red peppers: Eat them. They somehow absorb most of the sourness but are not very hot at all (at least not after that other dish, which really breathes fire), and eating them is important to fully appreciate the dish. Other ingredients included scallions, ginger, garlic, and some Sichuan pepper from time to time (yes, it was potent and didn't seem at all stale), and it was garnished with slices of hothouse cucumber (which I ate) and red bell peppers (which I didn't eat). That chicken dish was so good that it continued getting better as I ate more of it and even after I had finished, when the taste continued to develop in my mouth. I'm not sure if it was made with freshly-killed chicken, but the meat did taste good. Total bill: Just over $21.

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Since I like to start with the spicy beef tendon, and now that Fat Guy has turned me on to the pickled cabbage with red oil, it always seems like the meal progresses from most spicy to least spicy.

From what I have read, this should be the traditional progression in a sichuan meal, seems slightly backwards to my logic, you would think that having the spiciest, strongest dishes first would overpower the more delicate ones. But who am I to argue with centuries of culinary history?

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jogoode   

Does the midtown branch deliver. And if so, should that be my first experience with the food at GS?

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bpearis   
Does the midtown branch deliver. And if so, should that be my first experience with the food at GS?

They do deliver, but the takeout menu doesn't list the fresh chicken dishes or the Prodigal Daughter dishes. I'm sure if you requested them, they'd deliver them. Personally, the dishes that typify what Grand Sichuan does are the Sliced Braised Beef in Chili Sauce (hottest dish I've ever eaten) and the fresh chicken kung pao. My favorite, though, is off the Prodigal Daughter menu, the "green parrot with red mouth" or something. It's cold spinach in some sort of sour dressing and you just can't believe how good it is.

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jogoode   

thanks bpearis! i thought the takeout menu looked a little tame. green parrot!? red mouth!? what is this and how much will it set me back...

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jogoode   

i think i'll try kung bao. should i request freshly killed? or is it the same dish as it's written on takeout menu?

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bpearis   
thanks bpearis! i thought the takeout menu looked a little tame. green parrot!? red mouth!? what is this and how much will it set me back...

They've got this section of the menu with dishes inspired by a Chinese TV miniseries, Prodigal Daughter (not full title). All the dishes have super poetic names like "bird with ribbon in mouth flies over the hill" (not actual name but close). The "Green Parrot with Red Mouth" is this cold spinach dish with a sour dressing. To look at it, it doesn't look like much but it's really great. I think it will run you about eight bucks or so.

you'll need to request the freshly-killed chicken version. it is more expensive, but worth it. the first time you have real sichuan peppers is a fun experience -- they aren't so much hot as tingly and numbing.

-bill


Edited by bpearis (log)

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jogoode   
My favorite, though, is off the Prodigal Daughter menu, the "green parrot with red mouth" or something. It's cold spinach in some sort of sour dressing and you just can't believe how good it is.

sorry, i missed this last sentence.

thanks. can't wait. i hope the ride over doesn't hurt the dish...

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jogoode   

it'd be a shame to get freshly killed chicken and have it get less fresh...

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I've eaten at the GSI in Chelsea, and I love the menu. It's great literature, IMO. I order all the time from the Grand Sichuan on Lexington in the 30's (which I believe is related somehow to the GSI's on the West Side, but I'm not sure how. They have very similar menus, however). The takeout menu doesn't have the same fresh-killed dishes (though I've never actually eaten in this particular Grand Sichuan, so I don't know if they offer it), but the takeout menu still offers pretty good delivery. The Au Zhui Chicken is one of my favorites, as is the Ma po tofu. I can't believe nobody has mentioned the spicy sour string beans with pork! It's one of those dishes that I think is weird when I'm eating it, because the flavor combinations are so surprising, but I can't get it out of my head afterwards, and I develop pretty intense cravings. I would recommend AGAINST the Soup Dumplings, though. They're pretty awful. If you're in the neighborhood and you want soup dumplings, go to Evergreen Shanghai on 38th, which also makes excellent scallion pancakes.

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bpearis   
I would recommend AGAINST the Soup Dumplings, though.  They're pretty awful.  If you're in the neighborhood and you want soup dumplings, go to Evergreen Shanghai on 38th, which also makes excellent scallion pancakes.

I agree. I'm sure they put them on the menu after the Great Soup Dumpling Craze of 1999. Stick with the Sichuan dishes, avoid the rest.


Edited by bpearis (log)

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jogoode   

even after its trip to the office, the fresh Kung Bao chicken was excellent. I've never had anything like it. The Sichuan peppercorn produced a sort of cool tingling, and the dish was complex: slightly sweet, salty. I'm looking forward to more. Maybe my next dish will be the stringbean with pork, Amuse Bouche!

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jogoode   

good roast pork buns, too. I had to try one. The pork was very good -- not candy sweet like most I've had -- but quite savory. I'll get another with lunch today. What, under $10 or so, should I oder for lunch?

Suggestions so far: red parrot with green mouth, sour string beans...

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bpearis   
good roast pork buns, too. I had to try one. The pork was very good -- not candy sweet like most I've had -- but quite savory. I'll get another with lunch today. What, under $10 or so, should I oder for lunch?

Suggestions so far: red parrot with green mouth, sour string beans...

I don't think the Parrot dish would do you on it's own, though you could supplement cheaply with either the dan dan noodles or the wontons in red oil.

Try the braised beef fillets with chili sauce... if you dare. the bean curd family style is also good.

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slkinsey   

Get the spicy beef tendon.

The braised beef and cabbage in red oil is awesome.

Edited to add: bpearis and I x-posted on the beef in red oil. It's a must-have!


Edited by slkinsey (log)

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jogoode   

thanks guys. i'd read the entire thread through but i can only get to the comp for about ten seconds at a time.

i've been hearing about the tendon for a long time now -- I'll try it. It's a cold dish, correct? On the takeout menu, they have it and tendon with sweet black bean sauce. And I try the dan dan. No special menu or special prefix -- "freshly killed" -- for these, I assume.

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BJL   

I have tried the GS in Chinatown and wasn't impressed, so I am anxious to go to the one on 9th this weekend. One question - all these extra menus (fresh chicken, etc) Do you have to request them or are they automatically given? Thanks.

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bpearis   
I have tried the GS in Chinatown and wasn't impressed, so I am anxious to go to the one on 9th this weekend. One question - all these extra menus (fresh chicken, etc) Do you have to request them or are they automatically given? Thanks.

It's one big menu that has all this stuff in it, plus an explanation of sichuan cooking and more. it's a good read. it's just the takeout menu that doesn't feature the other stuff.

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jogoode   

I should admit that when I opened the container of spicy beef tendon, I thought it was my dan dan noodles -- the tendon is served in long translucent shavings. Awesome dish: spicy, salty, great texture. Dan dan was good, too.

edit: translucent, not transparent. Oops :wacko:


Edited by jogoode (log)

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Pan   

I'll give you some more recommendations, JJ:

Sichuan shrimp dumplings with sesame sauce (small dish; you'll have to get something else with them, like the Dan Dan Noodles or a cold dish).

The cold cucumber and the cold jellyfish dishes.

Aui Zhou Chicken.

If you like bitter melon, the Duck and Bitter Melon is great.

Spicy and Sour Squid (in the Mao's Cooking section).

Squid with Kung Bao Sauce.

Any of the whole fish dishes are great if you build up a big appetite, have someone to share them with, or can just put the leftovers in the refrigerator and have more for dinner.

And of course, I recommend the special New Year's chicken dish I had at my last visit.

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jogoode   

thanks, pan. i'm planning on ordering almost every day for lunch...God that tendon dish was good!

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slkinsey   
Aui Zhou Chicken

As I discovered thanks to Eric_Malson, you can get them to do this dish with beef as well, and it's even better.

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jogoode   

Yesterday I tried the "Red Cooking Pork with Chestnuts", thinking it would be like the sweet double-cooked pork dishes -- like Ruby Pork at China 46, or a similar dish at Hunan Cottage, in Fairfield, NJ -- but it came with soft chunks of pork in a thin sauce, with some spinach-like greens. Pleasant, but not very interesting, even with the cooked chestnuts, which in this dish tasted like a very starchy, sweet root vegetable.

Today, I tried the sour string beans with minced pork. I thought the strings beans would be served whole, but they were cut into tiny, about 1/3 inch, lengths. They were most likely yard-long beans and not strings. All I could detect as ingredients were the beans, pork, dried chili flakes, and some scallions, but that couldn't have accounted for the taste. What else is in this dish? What makes it slightly sour? It's my favorite so far. Also had good pickled cabbage.

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jogoode   

It almost tastes like the beans have been pickled...It makes a great leftover.

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kurl   
If you like bitter melon, the Duck and Bitter Melon is great.

This may sound absurd, but is the bitter melon supposed to be edible? I ordered this dish once and, while the bitter-melon flavored duck was really good, I just couldn't tolerate the melon itself at all.

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