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I had lunch here one day between Christmas and New Year's. LS was pretty quiet while there was a line out the door for Szechuan Gourmet. We just had two dishes, but they both were excellent - and blew away mediocre meals this past fall at Wu Liang Ye on 48th St and at the 56th St branch of Szechuan Gourmet.

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If you were going to open an excellent Szechuan restaurant in midtown would you decide to place it almost right across the street from Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St.? It’s an interesting question. Wha

I had lunch here one day between Christmas and New Year's. LS was pretty quiet while there was a line out the door for Szechuan Gourmet. We just had two dishes, but they both were excellent - and bl

They must have skipped this one.

it's another heavenly szechuan with a sprinkle of cheng du on top.makes for a comfortable difference. i went for a dinner two weeks ago, had several of the dishes you all listed and loved _ didn't realize they had the tofu and celery that i always order at SG tho! they're such nice people and said they were willing to deliver far as they are a new business etc so i've had delivery from them twice since i dined there! apparently they (or some of the they) are from wu liang ye hence several similar dishes like the wok roasted lotus root.

 

another must have is the wasabi clam - can't get it out of my head. thinly sliced large clam in this intense smoky and spicy wasabi but not brain crushingly so. delicate and deeply satisfying. also loved the baked tofu in lemon sauce, the razor clams - which they actually had unlike SG where they always seem to be out. there's a great cold shrimp app that comes with three different peppers, and the very charming manager listened to me talking about scallops and created what he thought i wanted. it didn't turn out to be what i was referring to but i loved the game on attitude and his delight in trying. i told him it wasn't spicy enough when he pushed me for a critique so he laughed and came back with a bowl full of mashed peppers and dried spices. my real favorite thing is that you can have half orders of many of the dishes - completely negates any infighting over the too much food idea some dweebs get in their head. i'd sure go anytime!

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  • 6 months later...

It took us a while, but we finally got here today. Not terribly hungry given the heat, so we just ordered two main dishes: the house-cured pork with leeks and the dry broiled fish. The waiter warned us that the pork would be salty, and it was, but not overwhelmingly so. It was basically just leeks and pieces of pork meat and belly. The pork was tender, and there was definitely star anise or something licorice-tasting in the sauce. The fish wasn't "dry" per se, but came in a sauce heavy with oil, scallions, bits of meat (either ground pork or beef), and lots of chilis. This was nice and spicy, with a good hit of vinegar.

 

This is a really good place and is a little cheaper than Szechuan Gourmet. One service quibble: they brought us the check unbidden and without asking if we were done eating. We had to make a separate request to get our leftovers wrapped up. As an FYI, half orders are only available at lunchtime.

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  • 1 year later...

We’ve been back to Lan Sheng about 6 or 7 times since my last post. While all our meals have been good these were all lunchtime visits that were paired with theater dates. As a result, we ate relatively lightly. (A full meal might make me fall asleep and since our theater tickets are in the 2nd row I wanted to avoid that embarrassment.) Last month we finally got back for dinner so we could order more widely.

 

As a CH poster recently mentioned, the menu has been updated. Some dishes have been dropped, others added. I’d say there’s been about a 10% churn. The prices are up a bit but not punishingly so. They’ve also borrowed Sripraphai’s trick of providing pictures of some of the dishes.

 

This was the first time we’ve visited on a Saturday night and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. During our afternoon visits, also on Saturdays, the place has been about half full. It was a lot different at night – the place was jammed at 7:00PM. That’s relatively early business for a Manhattan restaurant but not for the young Chinese crowd that predominated at tables set for 8 or 12 people. The effect was much like Legend in Chelsea except that Lan Sheng is considerably smaller than Legend. It was crowded without being noisy.

 

We managed to cadge a table for 2 but that was due more to luck than design. I suspect on Saturdays that it would be better to arrive a bit earlier or after 8:00 when the young crowd began to move on. We’ll keep that in mind on future visits.

 

Here’s a recap of what we had –

 

Dan Dan noodles.

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One of the best versions of this dish in either Queens or Manhattan. Suitably spicy and with great depth of flavor.

 

Chengdu wontons

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Very nicely done although they were smaller than the similarly excellent version served at Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge. The net effect is to leave you wanting about 30% more.

 

As a point of comparison, here’s the same dish at GSH -

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Smoky Hot Shredded Beef with spicy capsicum –

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Perfectly done. The beef was just a touch chewy without being unpleasantly so. (That’s pretty standard with thinly shredded Sichuan beef and pork.) The capsicum added suitable heat which was complemented by the spiciness and touch of sweetness provided by the hot shredded peppers.

 

Special braised pork –

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You need to order this. Imagine a meltingly tender pot roast. Now switch it from beef to pork with just the right amount of fat. Deb says it reminded her of red cooked pork. It certainly had a beautiful level of caramelization with a touch of sweetness and a bit of heat too. The accompanying steamed buns allowed you to construct a do-it-yourself sandwich if you were so inclined. Deb liked that; I preferred to meet the meat on it’s own.

 

While it doesn’t appear on Menupages.com it’s easy to find on their in house menu. There’s even a picture. This isn’t particularly cheap as Chinese dishes go. My memory says $17. That said, it can feed two people.

 

Bonus dish – chicken with spicy capsicum.

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We ordered this on our previous lunchtime visit in the early part of November and I actually ordered it by mistake. The night before I had ordered the same dish at Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge and if I hadn’t been in a fog I would have chosen something else. Sometimes mistakes work out. They were pleasantly different.

 

This is GSH’s of the same dish –

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Both were terrific but they were each distinctive in their own way. Rather than twins these were first cousins, related but by no means identical. I was glad to have the chance to try them back to back.

 

Lan Sheng has been around for just about two years and they remain one of the best Sichuan restaurants in New York.

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  • 3 months later...

After taking in the Wee Gee show at the International Photography Center a few weeks ago (highly recommended) we refreshed ourselves at the Jimmy's Corner and then tucked into Lan Sheng. It remains one of the best Sichuan restaurants in New York. On the dance card -

 

Dan Dan noodles – their usual first rate edition, surpassed only by the version served at Little Pepper in Flushing.

 

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Green beans with minced pork – straight from the wok to the plate, piping hot. That’s the best way to eat this dish and that’s what we got. Plenty of crumbly pork too. Nobody does a better version than this and very few places equal it.

 

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Chongqing Spicy Chicken – This was a very good version of this dish.

 

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There was a good amount of red chilies but not overwhelming pile. The chicken pieces were also pleasingly large. (Some places dice the chicken overly fine making it work to dig it out from the chilis. Not a problem here.)

 

Szechuan Smothered Pork – This was a new dish for me.

 

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Surprise! Pork belly! Our waiter warned us.

 

"Lots of fat."

 

“Yes! Yes! That’s good.”

 

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It appeared to be braised, not fried. Not surprisingly, it wasn't overly crispy but it wasn't overly fatty either (assuming you like pork belly. I do.) It was cut into quarter inch thick pork pieces half the size of a dollar bill with a thin peppery crumbly brown outer coating. It wasn’t wildly hot but it was certainly fully flavored. This is filling stuff. You may want to skip lunch if you’re planning to order this for dinner

 

In a city filled with very good Sichuan restaurants this dish, along with the smothered pork we had last time, make Lan Sheng a destination place.

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  • 1 month later...

went here tonight, was very enjoyable. did it blow my mind? no. would it have a year ago? probably.

 

started with conch in chili vinaigrette--needed salt, but otherwise nice. interesting texture--but not too chewy.

crispy cucumber--not much to say, well executed. i personally prefer the cold cucumber dish at tasty hand pulled noodle. why there, i'm not sure.

 

ma po tofu--loved it, good peppercorn presence, minced pork made all the textural difference

special braised pork--this is back on the menu! (! is my annotation)

cumin lamb--best dish of the night. the smoky peppers, onions, peppercorns had me reeling.

 

had a weird altercation with the manager after we thought we got charged $15 for rice, left no tip, got accosted on the street. this was a weird misunderstanding but as my friend said, 'that was the first time i got bitched out for not tipping'

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had a weird altercation with the manager after we thought we got charged $15 for rice, left no tip, got accosted on the street. this was a weird misunderstanding but as my friend said, 'that was the first time i got bitched out for not tipping'

 

this requires further explanation.

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had a weird altercation with the manager after we thought we got charged $15 for rice, left no tip, got accosted on the street. this was a weird misunderstanding but as my friend said, 'that was the first time i got bitched out for not tipping'

 

this requires further explanation.

 

warning: boring story follows

we got the bill, and my friend was like--this is weird, we got charged $5 a portion for white rice, for 3 portions. I'm looking at the bill upside and yes, it appears that it reads like $15.69 next to X3>white rice, so i'm like what do you want to do, talk to the manager about it? this is a little ridiculous. my brother and my friend are sitting there, and I comment that the bill as it is would be the proper amount w/ tip if we didn't get charged $15 for rice. I get up, while I'm in the bathroom, they pay. we leave, when we get out of the restroom the manager or some authority figure comes running out with our bill. i'm thinking we actually overpaid by 20, but he starts like counting up the money on the street, which adds up to like +2 the original bill, and is pretty angry, shouting something about us not tipping. i'm like uh we didn't tip because you charged us $15 for white rice. at which point he was like what are you talking about, and upon holding the bill up to my eyes and closely examining it, it was clear that they had charged white rice to the bill and just left a blank space. so we gave him some one dollar bills, $6, making our tip around 14%. that satisfied him and he left us alone. i know, not a very interesting story in the slightest.

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had a weird altercation with the manager after we thought we got charged $15 for rice, left no tip, got accosted on the street. this was a weird misunderstanding but as my friend said, 'that was the first time i got bitched out for not tipping'

 

this requires further explanation.

 

warning: boring story follows

we got the bill, and my friend was like--this is weird, we got charged $5 a portion for white rice, for 3 portions. I'm looking at the bill upside and yes, it appears that it reads like $15.69 next to X3>white rice, so i'm like what do you want to do, talk to the manager about it? this is a little ridiculous. my brother and my friend are sitting there, and I comment that the bill as it is would be the proper amount w/ tip if we didn't get charged $15 for rice. I get up, while I'm in the bathroom, they pay. we leave, when we get out of the restroom the manager or some authority figure comes running out with our bill. i'm thinking we actually overpaid by 20, but he starts like counting up the money on the street, which adds up to like +2 the original bill, and is pretty angry, shouting something about us not tipping. i'm like uh we didn't tip because you charged us $15 for white rice. at which point he was like what are you talking about, and upon holding the bill up to my eyes and closely examining it, it was clear that they had charged white rice to the bill and just left a blank space. so we gave him some one dollar bills, $6, making our tip around 14%. that satisfied him and he left us alone. i know, not a very interesting story in the slightest.

 

Just wait until my story about Villa Condesa in DF and how they stole $100 from us. I guarantee more excitement!

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  • 3 months later...

Had an excellent lunch last Saturday with a couple other Szechuan fans. Took recs from Lex and co and started with crispy cucumbers which deserve the praise and hype. Ideal shock absorber for peppercorn fire too. The diced rabbit in spicy oil with peanuts was excellent if not for the varying shapes and sharpness of the bones. The crab soup dumplings, which arrived with entrees (house advised a 15min cook time) were thin cased, light and crabby. Some of the best I’ve had.

 

No misses on the entrees either. Stir fried (diced) chicken w spicy capsicum were crispy and full of flavor, cumin lamb very well seasoned and tender. Braised pork belly with chopped tiny bitter greens was not a texture for everyone but it was delicious. The braised noodles w shrimp, chicken, pork and veg in their sweet-star anise brown sauce were fine and offered another cooling option.

 

No caucasioning here. They don’t even ask what level you desire. The lamb and chicken packed a good steady burn you’d expect from an authentic. Service was very attentive and accommodating too. I would eat here often if it were practical. As good as Spicy & Tasty and Little Pepper.

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Had an excellent lunch last Saturday with a couple other Szechuan fans. Took recs from Lex and co and started with crispy cucumbers which deserve the praise and hype. Ideal shock absorber for peppercorn fire too. The diced rabbit in spicy oil with peanuts was excellent if not for the varying shapes and sharpness of the bones. The crab soup dumplings, which arrived with entrees (house advised a 15min cook time) were thin cased, light and crabby. Some of the best I've had.

 

No misses on the entrees either. Stir fried (diced) chicken w spicy capsicum were crispy and full of flavor, cumin lamb very well seasoned and tender. Braised pork belly with chopped tiny bitter greens was not a texture for everyone but it was delicious. The braised noodles w shrimp, chicken, pork and veg in their sweet-star anise brown sauce were fine and offered another cooling option.

 

No caucasioning here. They don't even ask what level you desire. The lamb and chicken packed a good steady burn you'd expect from an authentic. Service was very attentive and accommodating too. I would eat here often if it were practical. As good as Spicy & Tasty and Little Pepper.

 

 

Yes that was a good lunch. thought the cucumbers were the best rendition of that dish I've had. scallion sauce wasn't overpowering...appropriately balanced. rabbit wasn't worth the effort. the pork was the start (along with the cucumber). thought the noodles were rather boring.

 

overall, very good. don't know if they have the full assemblage of excellent cold dishes that you'll see at S&T (and LP?)...but it certainly matches up well with the GSs....

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I blame Eatmywords. He had to go posting about Lan Sheng and before I knew it I was dreaming about their braised pork. I was drawn into the vortex.

 

This was our 3rd visit on a Saturday night. (All of our earlier visits were lunchtime affairs.) The advantage of going in the evening is that you can eat lots more. The disadvantage is that it gets crowded. I tried to head off this potential problem by calling for a reservation.

 

“You come in, we give you a table.”

 

Well, I tried.

 

My instincts were right – when we arrived at 7:00 the place was 90% full, every table but one occupied by the young stylish Asian crowd I’d spotted before at Legend and Hot Kitchen.* The FOH guy took mercy on us and bypassed a couple of free tables against the wall to seat us in the only free booth. That put us in a good mood. To celebrate we ordered lots of food.

 

In honor of the mid August date we started with Hand Shredded Chicken with spicy sesame vinaigrette.

 

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Served at room temperature, this was a new dish for us. Slightly astringent with a bit of spicy heat, it was a perfect setup for the rest of the meal.

 

Our second starter was Dan Dan noodles. No picture, you already know what it looks like. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an excellent version. Lan Sheng’s is a good as anyone’s and better than most.

 

Next up, Braised Beef Filets Napa Cabbage with roasted chili.

 

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There are very good versions of this dish around the city but this has to be my favorite. The beef is sliced very thin and it's meltingly tender while the sauce was just spicy enough to make things interesting without overwhelming the other flavors. Very good indeed.

 

(A tip - at every restaurant I’ve had this dish the kitchen sends it out with a last bit of concentrated spices right in the center. You need to distribute the spices by stirring to keep things in balance.)

 

I’m saving the best for last. Lan Sheng Special Braised Pork.

 

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“Terrific” doesn’t do it justice. It’s as tender as the best pastrami and equally unctuous. The hoisin sauce glaze supplies a touch of sweetness but there’s a bit of spiciness as well. I split this dish with Deb but honestly, I wanted it all to myself.

 

We first had this last December and were utterly blown away. When we returned last April they had ran out of it earlier that evening. I suspect we’re not the only people who love it. I guess the moral of the story is that persistence pays off.

 

Another picture –

 

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You know what? It tastes even better than it looks.

 

This dish doesn’t appear on the online menus but it’s easy to find on their in house menu. There’s even a picture to accompany the description.

 

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If you go to Lan Sheng you’ve got to order this.

 

* It’s a long standing tenet of Chowhound that the better Asian restaurants have a “secret” menu that’s not given to Caucasians. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that the stylish Asian crowd that shows up at restaurants like Lan Sheng has some type of secret Internet that alerts them to these places. You Google restaurants like this and while a lot of complimentary hits show up it’s the equivalent of mild applause. The Asian crowd shows up in droves and gives them a standing ovation. Somehow they find them.

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