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Szechuan Gourmet


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A distinctive dish I enjoy here is Crispy Lamb. Slivers of lamb dredged in what tastes like CUMIN** and dry stir fried with lots of dried red peppers and some garlic and ginger slices. There are some szechuan peppercorns too. It gets 3 peppers on the menu's heat scale but I find the spicing more aromatic than hot.

 

Yum.

 

The 1/2 crispy duck is good too.

 

I've yet to go with dining companions interested in exploring the organ and hot hot aspects of the menu, but even for relatively standard Chinese fare for the last year I have found this place a welcome addition to mid town choices.

 

wray

 

** while I am a tourist when it comes to Chinese cuisine, I have yet to encounter any other Chinese dish which has cumin as a major flavor component and so I am willing to accept that it is some other combination of powders which add up to what I think tastes like cumin.

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sounds interesting, this place. i read about it on a blog about a month ago, forget which.

 

waterfront enterprises inc. in flushing has a dish that could be described as "spicy lamb in loads of cumin sitting in loads of hot oil" on the menu, and it's really really good. (i don't remember what the menu really says.)

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That lamb dish sounds spectacular; thanks wrayb. Love the chinese islamic xinjiang/uighur lamb with cumin preparations, but have never had the cumin seasoning with added sichuan peppercorns. can imagine it's even tastier!

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It's a very nice dish and certainly has a lot of cumin in it, but on one occasion they served it with so many sichuan peppercorns that it was impossible to taste anything else.

 

I've yet to go with dining companions interested in exploring the organ and hot hot aspects of the menu, but even for relatively standard Chinese fare for the last year I have found this place a welcome addition to mid town choices.

 

I'd suggest trying the pork stomach dishes but avoiding the intestines. They're very...err...close to nature.

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  • 1 year later...

Last night I was suddenly seized with the desire for Szechuan food so I stopped off at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th. I was surprised to find they have redone the menu. It appears there are some new or renamed dishes there - I can't figure out which or perhaps it's a mix of both. (The new menu isn't available on menupages.com. Likewise the take out menu hasn't been updated so I can't do a detailed comparison.) My beloved shredded pork and dry bean curd isn't there any more but I'll bet if I ask nicely they'll make it for me. Dan dan noodles are now on the menu (they used to be a special request item) and they were very good indeed although a bit oversalted. Nice heat though.

 

I had a newly minted pork belly dish - shredded crispy belly with leeks - and it was first rate. The previous incarnation of this dish was a bit fatty but this was a perfect blend of fat and lean. The shredding helped insure the crispness - previously the pork was cut into broad flat slices like bacon. This was an excellent dish and I look forward to eating my way through the new menu.

 

On the negative side it looks like prices are up a bit - $2 to $3 per dish. This won't break the bank at Monte Carlo but it's worth noting. I think the beers are up about 50 cents as well. Serves me right for posting about this place so much.

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  • 1 month later...

Back to Szechuan Gourmet on Saturday prior to seeing Beyond Glory at the Laura Pels theater. (Highly recommended.)

 

This was my 2nd visit now that the new menu is in place and I continue to be impressed with their cooking. Not wishing to fall asleep in the middle of the play we ate lightly. We started with the obligatory Dan Dan noodles. I love this stuff but it makes for a comfortable rut. As usual, it was an outstanding rendition but I need to branch out a bit.

 

For our main Deb and I split the double cooked sliced pork belly with chili leeks. While there are about 3 or 4 variations of this dish at various top rank Szechuan restaurants in Manhattan and Queens this one was really outstanding. The pork belly was perfectly done and, unlike other versions I've had of this dish, there was just the faintest touch of sweetness in the sauce. It offset the spiciness perfectly.

 

As I've mentioned earlier the prices have gone up a bit but the serving size can easily feed 2 people. I'm really looking forward to getting back there and trying all new dishes. Menupages now has the new menu on line.

 

A very good restaurant has gotten even better.

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  • 3 months later...

A group of six went to Szechuan Gourmet this past Saturday evening and were very pleased.

 

The menu looked more than a little familiar with dishes like oxtail and tripe cold appetizer, braised beef with chiles and cured pork with leeks and the kitchen is respectable. We thought the majority of dishes were well executed.

 

The waitress told me that she felt we had ordered too much food before she agreed to put in our order but I talked her out of that notion and even added some pan-fried dumplings (which were exceptionally good and had a very light dough). We did admirably and finished almost everything.

 

We had, among other dishes, the Dan Dan noodles (very spicy) Smoked cold beef (the least successful dish IMO) spicy cold rabbit, scallion pancake, dumplings, cured pork, shredded smoked duck, pea shoots, cumin beef, and more that I just cannot remember but the meal was a success.

 

It's on a block that is dead at that hour but the place was comfortably full.

 

Thank you Lex. :)

 

 

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Pleased to be of service. As you noted, the block is really quiet outside of normal business hours. The area isn't residential yet people find their way there. In my experience the crowd is about 70% to 80% Chinese. The place seems to have established a reputation.

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

finally finally got here last night. and pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations! five of us -( brought a bottle of champagne as we needed to have a little toast for someone and they charged us a ten dollar corkage fee) with plenty of food and it came to 30 bucks apiece. the cumin lamb was considered to be very good tho not quite up to little pepper standards, the noodles were also good, better than the grand sichuan in bay ridge but again - not as good as my personal nirvana. however - there was a delicious and incredibly spicy shredded smoked tofu with asian celery dish that i'd love to have again right now, a braised tofu in black bean sauce also excellent, the string beans with some kind of veggie buds were addictive, the snow pea leaves were not partic garlicky but very fresh and full leafed, they were sadly out of razor clams which i'd been dying to try there, the cucumber was great tho served too cold, the sichuan pickles were not only beautiful but a fun perk to mix in, and the braised fish filets w/ mushrooms was simple but as spicy as little pepper and fabulous. oh and two people had an app of the sliced pork belly with chilis and loved it.

so glad it's so near me, cannot believe how long it took me to get there. not gonna put it off ever again.

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  • 6 months later...

I am by no means an expert on Sichuan Food. i have eaten at a few Sichuan Restaurants in China, a few in the US, and read a couple of books on the cuisine. From my experiences and understanding. Sichuan Food is spicy. Not hints of spice, or subtle flavors, but mouth burning intense flavors.. Sour, salty, spicy, its not something that should be mundane..

 

Often times at my meal tonight I was left bored, unsatisfied, waiting for the meal to start.. The heat was missing, the intense flavors hadnt shown, where were the Sichuan Peppercorns.

 

 

Best dish of the night:

 

Cold Spicy Rabbit- The meat was delicious, large pieces, not dried out at all. Had the most respectable heat of the night.

 

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Tendon: The best part and strongest flavors were provided by a fresh celery garnish. Something is wrong with that.

 

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Cold Sesame Noodles:

 

Skip worthy.. I dont think these were really sesame noodles. The must have given us the wrong dish. No sesame.

 

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Conch grew on us. The fresh carrots were not the strongest component of the dish but, brought out the sweetness .. Mild heat that slowly intensified.

 

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Miss K got these. She loved them. They are truly inedible. Sweet as a Luden's Cough Drop. The color is really that shocking color.

 

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Cumin Lamb shows the crappiness of the kitchen. Maybe something happened after the Times Review or something.. We ordered this as an after thought.. We got this and the potatoes after miss A read the Bruni review.. The review was on the front counter photocopied so every customer could take one.

 

So we order the lamb and no less the 3 minutes later we are served.. There was no way possible that they could have cooked the lamb in this time.. The meat was kind of dry, definitely kept heated somewhere, and gently sprinkled with cumin..

 

By a show of hands, who thinks deep fried lamb covered in cumin shouldnt be excellent.

 

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The potato dish that Bruni went gaga over was bad. Not all that uncommon though, he suggested otherwise. Again it was boring. I asked for Black Vinegar which pepper it up.

 

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I think Bruni should leave slumming to Sietsema ..

 

This place gets a C.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, inspired by Scamhi's yen for Szech. food last night (& a dust-up that Daniel's above post caused on eGullet), 4 of us went last night (sorry you couldnt join us, Daniel) and had a good meal. Probably a B, maybe B+. This was certainly better than a recent meal on 9th Ave in Chelsea, which I would have rated C. The lamb with cumin was well done... not dried out but certainly dry, meaning no grease or any liquid. Very nice taste to it. The dan dan noodles were the only thing I thought 9th Ave does better (as do most places)... they were not very silky &, while okay, nothing to write home about. Eh. The cold cucumbers were very good, cut into larger pieces than most others do. Refreshing, with good spicing. Pork belly was, as usual, well prepared and the fish with Napa cabbage was similarly good. Although it looked like it would be fire-y with a full crust of peppers, it wasnt. As a matter of fact, my major impression of this meal was that they managed very well to serve food that had spice that was integrated into the taste of the dish but wasnt the main aspect of the dish. This often isnt the case when heavily spiced food is ordered... the "hot" can easily outweigh the fish or the pork in too many places. We ordered the tea smoked duck as well & it was very smoked... I liked it but it was heavy on the smoke.... the opposite of what I liked about the other dishes.

 

Overall, I continue to think that this place is someplace to keep on the rotation when in the mood for Szech. food and, overall, better than 9th Ave's food (which can be downright mediocre). But I've liked the place on 2nd Ave in the 50s better and certainly think that, if travel isnt a major concern, the Bay Ridge Szech. place (5th Ave and 88th St) is better as well, right up there with Flushing's Little Pepper and Spicy & Tasty.

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Overall, I continue to think that this place is someplace to keep on the rotation when in the mood for Szech. food and, overall, better than 9th Ave's food (which can be downright mediocre). But I've liked the place on 2nd Ave in the 50s better and certainly think that, if travel isnt a major concern, the Bay Ridge Szech. place (5th Ave and 88th St) is better as well, right up there with Flushing's Little Pepper and Spicy & Tasty.

A very reassuring post. Somehow I didn't think SG had gone all to hell after years of good meals.

 

Maybe I'm getting generous but I though that meal at GSI on 24th St. was pretty good. The dishes varied in quality but that duck was really first rate. There were some other things that were very good as well. (Sorry I can't remember the specifics.) My own thought was that the kitchen has tightened things up - the cooking was more precise than I'd found in the past.

 

Having eaten at all the restaurants you mentioned I'll repeat a comment that I made in the past about these places. All of them excel at specific dishes but I have yet to find one that does everything right. The strategy that works best for me is to explore the menu at each and determine your favorite dishes at each restaurant.

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