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The State of Sichuan in NYC 2011


Fat Guy
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A couple of weeks ago I was walking on Amsterdam in the 70s and noticed a new branch of Grand Sichuan on 74th Street. It's called Grand Sichuan 74. I ate there yesterday for lunch and thought it was very good. The dan dan noodles came in a bowl big enough to mix them in and were more complex than the norm. There are several dishes on the menu prefixed "Chong Qing." We tried the Chong Quing drunk shrimp, which turned to be reminiscent of a Southeast Asian dish: shrimp cooked in a tomato broth. The eggplant with garlic sauce and minced pork was the best example of this dish I've had. Kung pao (bao on their menu) chicken had interesting sour notes and a light hand with the sauce. The only disappointing dish was the cumin lamb, called Lamb w. Sichuan style on this menu, because it was way to bready. The place was not at all crowded at lunchtime and all the platings and presentations were far more attractive than is typical. Prices low for food of this caliber. The entrees we had ranged from $10.95 to $12.95, though there are others at higher price points.

Szechuan Gourmet on 39th Street probably remains my favorite Sichuan in the city, and has taken the place of the dearly departed Grand Sichuan International Midtown for me. I like it better than Spicy & Tasty in Flushing, which I think is overrated. However, just up 39th Street from Szechuan Gourmet is Lan Sheng, which I think is a serious competitor, is better on some dishes (such as twice-cooked pork), has a nicer physical facility and is less crowded.

What else is new in the Sichuan world?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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This is gonna be a tough one, because other than the places you mention, I don't know of any others worthy. There is a Grand Sichuan on St. Marks Pl. that can be good depending on what is ordered. And I think I went to a "new" branch of Grand Sichuan last fall, somewhere in midtown, and it sucked.

Other than that, I draw a blank.

Wouldn't it be nice if a great Hunanese (I'm thinking SF Hunan back in the day) restaurant was to open?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I don't know how recently it opened, but Szechuan Chalet around 72nd and 2nd ave got on my radar recently. I had a very good cold beef/tripe dish, mapo tofu, a dry fried chicken with a bunch of chilis, and a dish that was basically just sauted tiger peppers. All of it was very well done!

Pretty exciting to hear the grand sichuan empire is moving a little further north.

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I heard tell of another UES Sichuan place opening, Wa Jeal, but I haven't checked it out. Wu Liang Ye's East 86th Street branch is, I believe, now defunct. It had some great stuff but also too much inconsistency.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Wu Liang Ye, on 48th between 5th and 6th Aves. merits inclusion on your list. I think that it is very good to excellent, highly consistent and an extraordinary alternative in the middle of Rockefeller Center. Despite the locale, the trek up the flight of stairs to the restaurant sorts out the "tourist" crowd, leaving some very serious diners, many of them Chinese businessmen. I think that their renditions of Dan Dan Noodles, razor clams, tea smoked duck, and wontons in hot sauce, among many others are the equal of the other first tier places. You do need a reservation at lunch, most days.

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Other names to check out:

Old Sichuan on Bayard in Manhattan Chinatown

Famous Sichuan on Pell St in Manhattan Chinatown

Legend in Chelsea

Chengdu Heaven (aka Chengdu Tian Fu) in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing

Little Pepper (aka Xiao La Jiao) in Flushing

Bamboo Pavillion (may have a new English name now) in Bensonhurst

Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge

Tung Shin House in Rego Park

"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure
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I don't know how recently it opened, but Szechuan Chalet around 72nd and 2nd ave got on my radar recently. I had a very good cold beef/tripe dish, mapo tofu, a dry fried chicken with a bunch of chilis, and a dish that was basically just sauted tiger peppers. All of it was very well done!

Pretty exciting to hear the grand sichuan empire is moving a little further north.

I haven't eaten there, but a good friend who is a Sichuan fan spoke highly of Szechuan Chalet, too. However, they did mistake him for a food critic once, so he does get rockstar treatment:) Worth a try, it would seem, based on descriptions of multiple meals there.

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Other names to check out:

Old Sichuan on Bayard in Manhattan Chinatown

Famous Sichuan on Pell St in Manhattan Chinatown

Legend in Chelsea

Chengdu Heaven (aka Chengdu Tian Fu) in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing

Little Pepper (aka Xiao La Jiao) in Flushing

Bamboo Pavillion (may have a new English name now) in Bensonhurst

Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge

Tung Shin House in Rego Park

I've been to Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge. It is good, but definitely a notch down from some of the others.

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  • 2 months later...

I don't know how recently it opened, but Szechuan Chalet around 72nd and 2nd ave got on my radar recently. I had a very good cold beef/tripe dish, mapo tofu, a dry fried chicken with a bunch of chilis, and a dish that was basically just sauted tiger peppers. All of it was very well done!

Pretty exciting to hear the grand sichuan empire is moving a little further north.

It's actually on 73rd and 2nd.

I order from there all the time.

Get the double-cooked fresh bacon. /swoon

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/27/dining/reviews/27unde.html?ref=dining

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GS 74th is weird. The szechuan classics are well prepared (on 4/5 of my visits) and everything else is seriously terrible. They have some kind of frying deficiency I've never seen in any chinese restaurant, where their batter is thin and slides off of everything (on 5/5 of my visits). Do not dine in, the FOH is unbelievably green.

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Steven, I too miss the Grand Sichuan from Hell's Kitchen. I've never found the one in Chelsea to be quite as good.

My current favorite is the new branch of Szechuan Gourmet on 56th st between Broadway and 8th. After eating at both this one and the original Manhattan location on 39th street dozens of times, I prefer the uptown location. I usually go for lunch as the prices are so much cheaper than dinner. I suspect part of the problem with the 39th st location is that it's been so busy after a bunch of rave reviews in the NY Times, etc. I think their cooking sometimes suffers and can be inconsistent. The uptown location puts out more consistent food in my opinion, has a nicer atmosphere, is never too busy at lunch, and if I remember correctly the lunch special prices on some items are cheaper by a dollar or two. Some of my favorites items are shrimp in garlic sauce, shrimp with asparagus and minced pork, tripe in sesame sauce, and wontons in chili oil. The Kung Bao Chicken is fine, but for some reason I don't like it as much as the version at the defunct Grand Sichuan on 50th st.

I've been waiting for the Grand Sichuan to open on Amsterdam, and now I need to go try it. Thanks for the heads up.

And has anyone ever figured out the relationship between the various Grand Sichuan locations? I can't believe the one on 2nd Ave in the 50's is related to the one in Chelsea, as the food and menus are so different. I think the one in Chelsea is much better. However, the orange flavored chicken at the 2nd Ave location is the one exception - it's my favorite version of this in the city.

Edited by Felonius (log)
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I heard tell of another UES Sichuan place opening, Wa Jeal, but I haven't checked it out. Wu Liang Ye's East 86th Street branch is, I believe, now defunct. It had some great stuff but also too much inconsistency.

Yes the UES Wu Liang Ye has closed. I tried to go for lunch a few months ago.

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Chengdu Heaven (aka Chengdu Tian Fu) in the Golden Shopping Mall in Flushing

The mapo doufu at Chengdu Heaven is to die for. (I wasn't so crazy about the dan dan noodles.) And then you can sample the other amazing places in Golden Mall, such as Xi'an Famous Foods.

Love Szechuan Gourmet on 39th when it's on - but it's always waxed and waned, I assume with changeovers of chefs. (The guy who owns it is Cantonese, not Sichuanese, according to a colleague of my mother's from Sichuan. Doesn't mean he can't own a great Sichuan restaurant of course.)

Edited by patrickamory (log)
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