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Grand Sichuan International


Pan
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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.

Was it just too bitter? I've cooked with the stuff, and you're supposed to salt it to draw out the bitterness for some period before cooking. It's usually pretty inoffensive, and even delicious.

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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.

The sour green beans are my favorite dish at Grand Sichuan as well. I have tried it many times, attempted to copy it at home and am completely stumped about how the sour is achieved. Know it is not vinegar. Any food detectives out there have the answer?

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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.

The sour green beans are my favorite dish at Grand Sichuan as well. I have tried it many times, attempted to copy it at home and am completely stumped about how the sour is achieved. Know it is not vinegar. Any food detectives out there have the answer?

I could've sworn those beans tasted pickled. How do you know it's not vinegar? The Times mentioned that Sichuan cooking utilized black vinegar, and rice wine. And my pickled cabbage wasn't pickled in black vinegar. Hmmmm.

Did you like the dish as soon as you tried it? Amuse Bouche, who recommended the dish to me (thanks!), said earlier on this thread that she/he (sorry :smile:) thinks the dish is strange while she/he is eating it, but then can't stop thinking about it when it's gone.

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

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Just out of curiosity, are they generally so busy that there's a long wait, or do they take reservations? (Trying to do some pre-trip planning and didn't see anything in the thread.)

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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Thanks. We'll probably end up there around 5:30-6, but since it'll be a Saturday and Valentine's Day both (ack) we might add in some extra wiggle room.

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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They do take reservations, though it's possible you still might wait. FWIW, the Chelsea branch is more crowded than the better Hell's Kitchen branch.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I could've sworn those beans tasted pickled. How do you know it's not vinegar

Did you like the dish as soon as you tried it? Amuse Bouche, who recommended the dish to me (thanks!), said earlier on this thread that she/he (sorry :smile:) thinks the dish is strange while she/he is eating it, but then can't stop thinking about it when it's gone.

Went to Grand Sichuan last night. Wait was longer than usual- but I did ask about the sour in this dish. The answer was fermented like kim chee somewhat. From what I could understand the beans are blanched and then put in a jar for a few days with salt, peppercorns and other herbs and spices .

This is a memorable dish !

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Nice reporting, kathe!

The braised beef and cabbage in red oil is awesome.

kinsey,

Please note that I might not survive my eating the braised beef in red oil. When you said "in red oil" you meant that the beef and cabbage are in a bath of red oil. I didn't expect that and now I won't be eating for a few days. Very good dish, though, especially the cabbage.

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

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After reading about it so many times here, I finally used this weekend to try Grand Sichuan International. I met a friend for lunch at the Midtown (50th and 9th) location.

We both had the won-ton soup. I do believe that it may be the best that I have ever had. There is absolutely nothing that could have been an improvement.

My friend order the cashew chicken. She is a rather "safe" eater and cannot tolerate spicy foods. I tasted and the sauce was splendid, not too heavy and not too thin. The cashews were cooked perfectly, as was the chicken. A total winner in her eyes.

I have a slight aversion to peanuts so I unfortunately had to stay away from the much acclaimed freshly killed Kung Bao Chicken. However, I ordered the freshly killed version of the Chicken with (Chinese) Broccoli. The broccoli was cooked splendidly, not crisp but far from overdone. It was flavorful enough alone. The chicken was succulent beyond words. Tasting my chicken versus my friend's not freshly killed variety was an exercise in extremes. Although hers was good, mine was so much better and more tender. My only disappointment, and it's a big one, I am afraid, was how un-spicy my dish was. After all of the posts I have heard, I was gleefully looking to be blown away (I am an afficionado of most spicy foods). Normally at restaurants, I ask for things (already labeled "spicy" on the menu to be made moreso). I didn't ask at GSI since I assumed it would be violently so (It was labeled as spicy on the menu and well, after all those other posts...). It wasn't spicy at all. Not in the slightest. The dish was good, but I was looking for a packed punch.

Perhaps I will give it another try eventually.

-Ophelie

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Normally at restaurants, I ask for things (already labeled "spicy" on the menu to be made moreso).  I didn't ask at GSI since I assumed it would be violently so (It was labeled as spicy on the menu and well, after all those other posts...).  It wasn't spicy at all.  Not in the slightest. 

Thanks, Ophelie, for your report! It's good to know that your chicken was good, even if it wasn't spicy, because now I know what to suggest if I go with a chiliphobic friend. In my experience, not every dish at GS has been spicy, and none that I've encountered have been extremely spicy. The Kung Bao is moderately spicy, but the numbing effect of the Sichuan peppercorns makes the dish's "punch" substantial (and wonderful). The heat of the sour string beans sneaks up on you, but won't have you sweating like some Thai dishes I've tried. Even the beef tendon in chili sauce and the braised beef in red oil wasn't exceedingly spicy.

But, like at Sripraphai, it's not always easy to get a dish very spicy unless you develop a relationship of trust with your server, and they know that when you say spicy, you really want spicy (presumably, the way the dish supposed to be served). Next time you go I suggest trying one of the four dishes I've mentioned, because, accordingly to many here, they are not served in the same way anywhere else. Chicken with Chinese broccoli seems to be made well in various spots around the city.

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

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Even the beef tendon in chili sauce and the braised beef in red oil wasn't exceedingly spicy.

Dude... they can both be incendiary, trust me. But we've developed a good rapport with our regular waiter there, and perhaps he knows we can take the heat.

--

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Normally at restaurants, I ask for things (already labeled "spicy" on the menu to be made moreso).  I didn't ask at GSI since I assumed it would be violently so (It was labeled as spicy on the menu and well, after all those other posts...).  It wasn't spicy at all.  Not in the slightest. 

Thanks, Ophelie, for your report! It's good to know that your chicken was good, even if it wasn't spicy, because now I know what to suggest if I go with a chiliphobic friend. In my experience, not every dish at GS has been spicy, and none that I've encountered have been extremely spicy. The Kung Bao is moderately spicy, but the numbing effect of the Sichuan peppercorns makes the dish's "punch" substantial (and wonderful). The heat of the sour string beans sneaks up on you, but won't have you sweating like some Thai dishes I've tried. Even the beef tendon in chili sauce and the braised beef in red oil wasn't exceedingly spicy.

But, like at Sripraphai, it's not always easy to get a dish very spicy unless you develop a relationship of trust with your server, and they know that when you say spicy, you really want spicy (presumably, the way the dish supposed to be served). Next time you go I suggest trying one of the four dishes I've mentioned, because, accordingly to many here, they are not served in the same way anywhere else. Chicken with Chinese broccoli seems to be made well in various spots around the city.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I had guessed that such may have been the case. Often, I only get my food as spicy as I like it at restaurants that i frequent often. Otherwise, I fear that the waitstaff thinks that the white woman at the table has not a clue as to how to handle the heat.

Perhaps I will return soon and try another suggested dish.

-Ophelie

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Even the beef tendon in chili sauce and the braised beef in red oil wasn't exceedingly spicy.

Dude... they can both be incendiary, trust me. But we've developed a good rapport with our regular waiter there, and perhaps he knows we can take the heat.

I figured. I was thinking of you when I said:

it's not always easy to get a dish very spicy unless you develop a relationship of trust with your server
:smile:

And was that dish you had hot that was 1/4 chicken, 3/4 chilis? I'd assume so.

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

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Otherwise, I fear that the waitstaff thinks that the white woman at the table has not a clue as to how to handle the heat.

:laugh: I bet you're right!

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

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And was that dish you had hot that was 1/4 chicken, 3/4 chilis? I'd assume so.

Oh yea... it's not often that a dish comes to the table and causes both Fat Guy and me to break into laughter just thinking about what we're going to do to ourselves when we eat it.

--

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i need to know how to order from Grand Sichuan the kung bao squid Pan recommended and get the "good version". If I order "freshly killed chicken" kung bao, they give me the authentic version, but how can I emphasize that I want this version of the squid. I'm asking for it over the phone...

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

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I didn't have to specify spiciness.

However, I am Chinese, and did speak to waitress in Chinese.

Based on what I see here, I find it interesting that she assumed my non-Chinese dining companion could take it.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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JJ, I've never had to specify anything but the name of the dish. I find that they spice robustly enough for me without my saying anything. And in order to calibrate your taste in hot pepper against mine, I'll mention that I like to slowly chew up hot peppers at times.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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JJ, I've never had to specify anything but the name of the dish. I find that they spice robustly enough for me without my saying anything. And in order to calibrate your taste in hot pepper against mine, I'll mention that I like to slowly chew up hot peppers at times.

I ordered chicken again, because I didn't hear back about the squid. I do wish there were more chiles in the kung bao and a little less Sichuan Peppercorns --if you eat part of the dish as leftovers, the peppercorns dominate and it tastes almost metallic.

Today, I did something I thought I'd regret: I ordered for delivery a lunch special. Those lunch special combinations, I figured, would not include anything interesting, but when I order from the menu I end up spending so much money. So I gave in today and decided to try the double cooked roast pork lunch special, which, like when I ordered the red cooking pork with chestnuts, I thought would be like the dish braised pork shoulder at New Jersey's China 46 or Hunan Cottage. Wrong again. I got salty, fatty, bacon-like strips of pork sauted with scallions, big pieces of ginger, and lots of large spicy green peppers. A great dish! Could have been a little spicier, but if I order it again I'll ask.

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

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couldn't stand it any longer, had to go!! 2 people: dan-dan noodles, sour & spicy vegetables, sizzling rice & pork, kung pao (freshly killed menu). all from the recommendations here. our bodies still paying for the amount of food, but excellent!! next time will try to temper our ordering.

thx egullet!!

btw: reminded me of our all-time favorite: "cuisine of szechuan", which used to be on irving place & 15th - the best ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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