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Mar 2, 2001 08:46 AM

Grand Sichuan International Midtown

  • j

I had an appallingly bad meal at Grand Sichuan International earlier this week. I had eaten there for the first time a few weeks ago with mixed results, but thought that it had enough potential for another try. The Kung Pao fresh killed chicken which the fat guy raved about was only OK, the enormous number of peanuts truly overwhelmed the dish. The second visit however was in a wholely different category. I started with the conch with wild pepper sauce which Asimov had recommended, which was awful, the conch was beyond al dente to being almost unchewable, I like al dente, and the sauce was unpleasant. I normally like everything good from every cuisine, but I chalked this up to maybe not understanding the dish. The clincher was the dried and sauted fresh killed chicken, very spicy, which I like, and highly recommended by the manager (owner?). The problem here was the salt, the dish tasted like pure salt to the point that it was inedible, and I have gotten down some pretty salty dishes in my time. I tried to attract the attention of the manager, but he kept avoiding eye contact. A waiter eventually came over and I told him our problem. He then told the manager, who shook his head no and then disappeared from the front of the restaurant where we were sitting and where he had spent most of the eveneing, not to appear again. Needless to say, we were charged for the dish. I believe that the manager knew that he had a problem in the kitchen that night, I don't know whether he was missing a chef, or a chef had left, which as we know is a very frequent problem in Chinese restaurants. Obviously I will never return. As I walked past the window on leaving I observed the manager returning to his post in the front.

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  1. I too had an odd experience there. I've been a few times and have had decent/good to great food (Hunan peppers with black beans are truly awesome).
    I was in the west 50's last week for a wine tasting and was hungry afterwards, so I decided to order some fresh kung bao for take-out to the upper WS. I picked up the order and hopped a cab. Suddenly my cell rings and apparently they gave me someone elses order - oops too late I was almost home (said they would give me a credit for next time),
    I was sort of excited though - what interesting dishes awaited me - a mystery meal - maybe something I would never order myself - goody!
    Was I disapointed!
    First I pull out 2 eggrolls. Now, a good eggroll can hit the spot at times, but this had the most rancid, funky taste I'd ever encountered. Cooked in motor oil.
    Then I pulled out the big container (my enthusiasm waning a bit) and it was sweet and sour chicken. True, it was something I would never order! I now know why. This was foul (no pun intended). Mushy, gelatinous globs. I remember "good" s&s as being crunchy, like tempura, with a sweet sauce on it. This was awful - completely inedible.
    Luckily I had a pint of Haagen Daaz in the freezer.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Brad K.

      I'm sorry, but I can't accept the items in that takeout order as a valid measure of this restaurant - even if they stank.

      Tell me that the order was for classic Szechuan dishes, and that they fell flat, and you have my attention. But egg rolls and sweet-and-sour -- please!

      This is not a restaurant that holds itself out as a place to go for typical neighborhood Chinese food. It has a much more specific mission. I agree they have to be held responsible if the stuff they tout as their specialty misses the mark. But if I ran the place, I wouldn't put much effort into orders like the one you accidentally ended up with. (Person obviously clueless about what this restaurant has to offer, just throw any slop together. IMO.) (Though I don't condone the selling of motor-oil-tasting eggrolls. Unless that's what the customer wants.)

      1. re: Helen

        I have to agree...anyone ordering from the "amercian chinese food" shouldn't really expect the food to shine, though it probably should be edible. A group of 7 of us had dinner last night at GSI Chelsea (9th & 24th) and everything was pretty much very good to excelllent. And the fresh killed chicken dishes we ordered (including the dried and salty) were the best. The texture that these dishes offer is pretty remarkable. The service is also way above the standard chinese restaurant attitude, as far as I'm concerned. So...maybe the chef cooks in a different GSI each night!

        1. re: mitchw

          Oh, I agree with you all.
          Any good cook can make bad food if forced (although few excuses for the foul tasting egg roll).
          This will not deter me whatsoever from going back to GSI. I just thought it was a funny story to realte (actually it was kind of a sad story when I nibbled on that chicken, oh well...).

      2. re: Brad K.
        Melanie Wong

        Another hard-earned lesson in life - Never eat someone else's take-out Chinese!