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grand szechuan (international)

  • j
  • jen kalb Apr 19, 1999 04:14 PM
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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?

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  1. confirmed!

    1. 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

        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

          jen

          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.

          salut
          joyce

          1. re: joyce briand

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

            1. re: Jessica

              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.

              Joyce

              1. re: Jessica

                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

                  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.

                    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

                      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

                        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.

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

                      1. re: Jim T.

                        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?