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gfron1

Szechuan restaurants - tea?

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We have a new Szechuan restaurant in St. Louis and its really good. Like I've now gone three days in a row good. Previously the best I've had in the US was Chengdu Taste in Vegas (also in LA), which beat anything I had in Chinatown San Francisco. This new place isn't as good as those, but its good. But the strange thing is that I've asked for a pot of hot tea each time and they say they don't have it. There's a definite language barrier, but they do know what I'm asking for because they apologize and offer me a cold canned tea instead. But their explanation isn't understandable. Three different servers, two different managers have explained it to seven different guests at my tables and there is no understanding it. So I'm wondering if it is possible that tea is not normally served with meals. That seems incredible odd to me since I always get a pot of tea at all regions of Chinese restaurants, but maybe its a thing. 

 

For the record they have only been open two months and easily 1/3 of their menu items are whited out already, and there were new white outs between each of my visits so they clearly have some basic restaurant organizational skills to improve upon. Anyway, just curious...

 

 

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Interesting response from a local critic who lived in China:

Quote

 

Not that unusual not to serve tea at authentic Chinese restaurants.

Tea is most often thought of as a “main event” in itself, so tea shops might have smaller snacks but the emphasis is on the tea.  Just like you can have snacks at a bar but the spotlight’s on the liquor.

One exception is dim sum places but that’s because they are just a series of snacks and impossible to think of them without tea.

Overall, a Chinese restaurant serving full courses, though, might not feature tea because it’s not drunk with meals.  Instead, soups are the liquid of choice.  Even with lighter dishes, their tastes would be overwhelming; you couldn’t appreciate the subtleties of the tea.  Hot water would be, aside from the soups, the liquid.

Having said that, my guess is that the place will quickly get enough complaints they will add tea to the meals.

 

 


Edited by gfron1 (log)
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I'm going to agree with your local critic.

 

Some, but certainly not all restaurants will give you a glass of tea (or hot water) on arrival, but it is almost never served with food. I often eat in Chinese family homes. They never offer tea with meals. Other times, yes.

 

I've eaten in five restaurants in China in the last 24 hours and none offered tea, although to be fair, we didn't ask for any. It wouldn't occur to us to want it.

 

Yes, dim sum is different. Dim sum refers only the side dishes that are served at morning tea, and the tea comes first. The event is called 饮茶/飲茶 (Mand:  yǐn chá; Cant: yam2 cha4) meaning 'drink tea' . No one ever says "Let's go for dim sum." They go for 'yum cha'.

But dim sum or yum cha is mainly a Cantonese thing. Not Sichuan cuisine. Tea houses are very popular there, but are different from restaurants. More like temples to the divinity of tea. Serious stuff. As your critic also says, Sichuan cuisine would overpower any tea. Sacrilege!

 

However the relatively bland tastes of Cantonese food works well with tea, but as a complement to the tea, rather than the other way round.


 


Edited by liuzhou (log)
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