grand sichuan - canal street
Returned for a second visit since this restaurant's guiding spirit decamped to Chelsea, and still not sure whether its worth it. Nice people, and Im sure well give it at least one more try. On our last visit, the szechuan wonton, formerly wonderful were absolutely lackluster; this time, the beancurd specialty, while still very good and very spicy just did not have its prior brilliance. And do not at all costs order the chef's specialty boned fish with pine nuts at $14; the presentation was extremely pretty, and the fish was fried well enough but it was in a totally boring and ordinary sweet and sour sauce with a few pinenuts scattered on the top. We were totally shocked and disappointed. Another table had a whole fish with hot bean (I think) which looked like a much better bet.
I am writing sadly to discourage people from expecting much of this place, which was wonderful before the chef left to cook in the Chelsea restaurant Jim mentions and is now ordinary and much cruder. On a recent visit, there were fewer Chinese patrons than in the past, and a shanghai-style menu page has been added to the szechuan and mao menus.
The double cooked pork is now a coarse, crude dish made out of what seemed like roast pork slices (maybe Im being unfair!)in one of those jarred hot bean pastes, totally unlike the luscious delicate yet spicy former version (on our last visit, the beancurd and the dumplings were also very disappointing). The szechuan cabbage pickle was overly salty yet not very flavorful. The tea-smoked duck and sauteed watercress (who could ruin that) were still fine. I am tempted to say forget this place, but it is a convenient stop for us and the hosts are nice.
Can anybody recommend some dishes that this restaurant now does well?