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grand szechuan (international)

jen kalb Apr 19, 1999 04:14 PM

In his last-weeks's review of grand szechuan
international in Chelsea, reporting the move of the
enthusiast/owner uptown from szechuan international on
Canal St. East, Asimov left unclear whether the
downtown place is still worth a visit. A few weeks
ago, we unsuspectingly visited it( the original), and
found the food more lackluster than previously (also
noticed the lack of the descriptive tome!) The spicy
wontons in particular lacked their prior distinctive
interest, and blandness afflicted a casserole dish. I
suspect that even tho EA politely didn't say so, the
creative spark has migrated uptown. Can anyone confirm
or clarify?

  1. j
    JOyce Briand Apr 19, 1999 05:08 PM

    re: "The spicy wontons in particular lacked their prior
    distinctive interest"

    Altho I never had the wontons downtown and can't
    compare, I can certify that the ones in Chelsea are
    really good. I had them a couple of times now and keep
    dreaming about them. I even order them for Takeout and
    when thet arrived they were not as good as in the
    restaurant but they do travel well on a rainy day. The
    wonton melts in your mouth, and the spicy oil together
    with the scallions brings a layer of fire in your mouth.

    11 Replies
    1. re: JOyce Briand
      jen kalb Apr 19, 1999 06:05 PM

      great! now check out the bean curd, dbl cooked pork
      and other great dishes. The guy is such an
      enthusiast/perfectionist, I think he will continue to
      produce top notch stuff even tho he has moved away
      from his critical chinatown audience.

      1. re: jen kalb
        joyce briand Apr 26, 1999 03:12 PM


        on my first time there, i had the the mao's favorite
        pork, with fat meat. boy, i've never seen or tasted such
        a rich dish in my life before, and goose liver is one
        one my fave dishes. last tuesday, i checked the double-
        cooked pork upon your recommendation, and it was
        'voluptuous'. thanks again for the tip. also had the dry
        and sauteed green beans and it was an experience too.
        And of course, i needed a double order of the wonton in
        spicy oil, and although they forgot to spinkle it with
        scallions, i was still happy. just to make sure that the
        spicy wonton were not going downhill, i check on them
        yesterday afternoon and this time they were perfect. the
        place was quite crowded with a not-so-young early birds
        wolfing down the spicy specials, and it was fantastic.
        didn't feel like being in chelsea at all. looked more
        like a cross-cultural adventure where the Szechuan
        province meets Florida. very, very new york in fact. I
        loved every second of it.


        1. re: joyce briand
          Jessica Apr 27, 1999 09:13 AM

          I'm going there on Thursday for dinner. I'm definitely
          getting those wontons. Any bean curd dishes to

          1. re: Jessica
            Joyce Briand Apr 27, 1999 09:58 AM

            Sorry. Can't help you with bean curds dishes because,
            even after 5 years in NY, I still can't myself to
            appreciate TOFU. One of these acquired taste, I guess...
            But Jen should be able to help. Just pray she logs on
            before thursday night.


            1. re: Jessica
              jen kalb Apr 27, 1999 10:38 AM

              the beancurd I recall is a dish of soft beancurd in a
              red sauce full of szechuan peppercorn. The contrast
              of the smoth, silky beancurd and the very spicy sauce
              is striking. On a blander note, the old location also
              did a good job of stir-fried rice cake with pork.
              Maybe a low taste, but but I love rice cake for its
              chewy texture. Check out the description of dishes in
              the proprietor's leaflet if you have any questions. ps
              at the canal street location a dish called country
              chicken (priced relatively high) was on the list of
              chef's specials. We were curious and went to order it
              - the waiter kindly mentioned it wasn't really chicken
              - it was frogs legs and we changed our minds!

              1. re: jen kalb
                steve d. Apr 27, 1999 11:18 AM

                The beancurd dish you're talking about is called mapo dofu in Chinese and is a staple of Szechuan cuisine -- I used to order it all the time at the Little Omei in Taipei. (The Little Omei was a neighborhood joint; the Omei plain and simple was the grandest Szechuanese place in Taiwan, and appropriately expensive. Mt. Omei is the sacred mountain of Szechuan, so it's a common name for Szechuanese restaurants over there; I guess they figure Americans have never heard of it, so they don't use it here.) The first time I had it it nearly killed me -- it took me quite a while to adjust to an authentic level of spicing!

                I used to like that dish at the Chinatown Grand Szechuan, and I wish I had ordered it last night when I went to the Chelsea place with a friend. Instead I tried a dish called, I think, Spicy Chicken -- I believe it's the last dish in the Chef's Specials list -- and was gravely disappointed. First off, it wasn't spicy. I was prepared for this because the cold noodles I ordered as an appetizer weren't particularly spicy either (and yes, I ordered them spicy), but at least the noodles were delicious. The chicken was one-dimensional, heavy, fatty -- I only finished a little over half. And they didn't have the special menu with explanations, which I had been enticing my friend with an account of! Or if they did, the waitress didn't know anything about it. I was planning to start a new thread labeled "Grand Szechuan Int'l -- downhill racer?" and lament the fact that I had waited a whole two weeks before following up on the raves here -- surely a new speed record in deteriorating -- but the new postings imply that others are still having excellent meals there, so maybe I ordered the wrong dish and/or hit an off night. But the menu? I'm puzzled, and will try to get back there soon for an update.

                1. re: steve d.
                  Jessica Apr 27, 1999 01:03 PM

                  I am disturbed by your sad no-explanatory-pamphlet
                  tale. I have been extremely eager to get ahold of one.
                  I hope I get one when i go there on Thursday! Can
                  anyone else report a hard time getting it?

                  1. re: Jessica
                    joyce briand Apr 27, 1999 03:01 PM

                    the "pamphlet" has always been present when I went
                    there. it is kept with the menus but it's also true that
                    there are only a few copies. insist with the waiters or
                    ask the guy at the front desk. they're all very friendly
                    and should get you one as soon as it is available.

                    1. re: joyce briand
                      Jessica Apr 30, 1999 09:20 AM

                      Well, I had dinner at grand Sichuan International last
                      night, and I liked it a lot. No problems obtaining the
                      much-anticipated pamphlet -the waiter put it on the
                      table with the menus. We shared the Sichuan wontons
                      with red oil, which were lovely and delicious -
                      delicate-looking but with that nice fiery oil - and the
                      cold noodles, which I also liked, although I didn't
                      locate any salted cabbage, which I think was in the
                      description, but hey - there were bean sprouts. Then
                      we had the sour string beans with minced pork and the
                      shrimp in Sichuan sauce. The string beans were really
                      fine. And I liked the addition of some sort of
                      fungus-y item to the shrimp dish. The service was very
                      nice and I really enjoyed that pamphlet. I'd like to
                      go back there to try the conch in scallion sauce, which
                      the people at the next table were having, and to read
                      more of the pamphlet.

                  2. re: steve d.
                    Jim T. Apr 28, 1999 11:36 PM

                    I agree. I was there last week and there is definite
                    lack of seasoning. The downtown site is still better

                    1. re: Jim T.
                      roark dunn May 2, 1999 01:53 PM

                      okay, i'm there.
                      sounds like more people are leaning towards uptown.
                      i'll be trying that beancurd and that rich-sounding
                      pork dish. what else to order?

        2. j
          Jim Leff Apr 19, 1999 04:22 PM


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