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NY Times Awards Spicy & Tasty 2 Stars ...

... and Frank Bruni tips his hat to Chowhound.

"That’s not news to many of this city’s more intrepid chowhounds, who have had Spicy & Tasty on their radar for a good long while."

http://events.nytimes.com/2006/11/29/...

(Frank, you should have had the Enhanced Pork.)

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  1. Or the dan dan noodles. I have been thinking about them constantly since my trip there two weeks ago. Deep sichuan peppercorn taste, great numbing.

    The one thing that we got that I haven't seen mentioned here was a scallion fried rice, ordered by one of my dining companions (as I thought snooty thoughts to myself). He did well--so much for my snoberry! It was bright green, and seemed to contain pureed raw or barely cooked scallion, and fluffy scrambled egg. It was earthy and richly scalliony and surprisingly good.

    We also tried sesame noodles (better than Grand Sichuan and Wu Liang Ye, but I'd love to do a side by side comparison), pea shoots (I LOVE the crisp texture to this), tea smoked duck, and the mild spicy chicken.

    Bruni gets the enthusiasm of the servers down. It really feels like they're delighted and bewildered that you're there.

    I can't wait to go back.

    1. I'm happy, of course, that Bruni reviewed S&T and gave it a good review. I don't understand all the references to "intrepid" about a place that serves perhaps the most refined Sichuan food in NYC. He mentions that the place is spiffier than most of the competition and that the service is friendly. If this were the first Sichuan restaurant in the area, I would understand -- but what's scary about Spicy & Tasty?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave Feldman

        "I don't understand all the references to "intrepid" about a place that serves perhaps the most refined Sichuan food in NYC."

        I think he was making a general comment about the readiness of posters to travel great distances for great food. Not only is S&T not in Manhattan, it's not in the easy to reach neighborhoods like Williamsburgh and Smith St. You actually have to ride the #7 train to the end of the line.

        To his credit, Bruni made the trip.

      2. I smiled while reading the review. I'm glad he liked the place, and it deserves the two stars he gave it. I hope that his repeated emphasis on spiciness is enough to put off non-Chinese visitors who would want them to tone down their cuisine. If so, I can stand the increased competition for seats.

        1. Okay guys, please tell me what I should order at Spicy and Tasty. My family and I have only made the trip once and overall we really didn't enjoy the dishes that we ordered. All I can think is that we ordered wrong, or maybe we went too late. (it was nearing the endo f the night when we went.) I do remember liking the green beans and that the "dan dan" noodles were okay. I guess it's possible that our expectations were different than what we actually experienced. Based on the reviews, my husband has asked me to make the trip and try it again. Maybe I'll wait until the "NYTimes rush" slows down.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Happygirl

            I love the stuff called "in fresh hot pepper"... water-cooked is the name in Chinese. Layers and layers of different hot flavors, served in a mini-wok.

            If it's too crowded, there's always Little Pepper about a block away.

            1. re: Happygirl

              I've liked EVERYTHING I've had there, so if you didn't like your food, I don't think you should go back.

              That said, did you order any cold dishes? Do you remember any of the other items you ordered?

            2. I thought I went to Spicy and Tasty for the first time last week, but only later realized that I was in a different restaurant at the same address (still very good though - gotta love Flushing). I was just getting ready to make another trip (this time to the correct place), and now I'm dreading how crowded it might be. We'll see.

              9 Replies
              1. re: LloydG

                If S&T looks slammed take a trip around the corner to Little Pepper, another Szechuan standout. Many people think the food is as good as S&T albeit prepared slightly differently. Well worth a visit and you won't have to deal with the Times crowd.
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/31113...

                1. re: LloydG

                  You'd be surprised how few people the NY Times reviews bring to most of the "Outer Borough" restaurants. If you go even this weekend, I'd bet you find only one or two tables with people who came from the review (you can tell them, because the are ordering from a written list of items Bruni recommended).

                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    I live in the Bronx, so I wish there were more non-Manhattan restaurants reviewed (the non-rush-hour 6 train is a harsh mistress). But I do love the (selfish) comfort of knowing my favorite neighborhood places will probably continue to have plenty of tables open for walk-ins because there won't be a ton of sheep around.

                    My boyfriend and I went to Spicy & Tasty a few weeks ago and loved it. My favorite was the dan dan noodles (like someone above said...that numbing feeling is great...slightly like novocaine). The boyfriend, however, is on a never-ending quest for the most spicy food imaginable. He had the beef in fresh pepper, which the waiter had said was the spiciest dish, but he (boyfriend, not waiter) didn't think it was that spicy. We liked it, to be sure, but were wondering if perhaps we were steered to something less spicy because we're not Chinese and it's assumed we can't handle the heat? He has been in a few habanero-eating contests. He craves the heat.

                    Any ideas on what their spiciest dish is? Was that it? I'll probably simply post a new topic asking for the spiciest dishes in Flushing, anywhere, but since I liked Spicy & Tasty I was hoping to find something hot for him upon our return.

                    Thanks, all!

                    1. re: merrymc

                      Hey, what are those places you are refering to in Da Bronx.. give us the lowdown..

                      1. re: jason carey

                        I was thinking over my answers to where I go in the neighborhood, and I realized I eat far, far too much pizza. Patricia's and Emilio's on Morris Park Ave. are two we go to a lot. Coals has good pizzas and a nice hamburger...yet to try the paninis. Modern Pizzeria in nearby New Rochelle is also good (I like the pasta better than the pizza there).

                        These aren't real "destination" spots, and they're not any secret, but I like each because they're friendly, serve good food, and are fairly inexpensive, the trifecta of neighborhood dining (as I think of it, anyway). I don't want to get off topic...but you should check them out if you're near Morris Park and hungry.

                      2. re: merrymc

                        The beef in fresh hot pepper is indeed the spiciest. But they sometimes don't make it as spicy as they should even though you beg. The first time I had it, they made it properly and I was sick for three days. Then the next time I had three days free, I went back and ordered it again. But they made it much less spicy that time.

                        1. re: Brian S

                          "The first time I had it, they made it properly and I was sick for three days."

                          Heh heh. Brian, don't do that to yourself. Your body is trying to tell you something.

                          As I was saying on the "Hot Food" thread, for me there comes a time where pure heat interferes with being able to taste the food. The chicken wings at Bonnie's in Park Slope are a prime example. The "medium" level has loads of heat but you can still taste the wings. The "hot" level is just punishing.

                          BTW, if you haven't been to Bonnie's it's worth a diversion from your usual Queens itinerary. The burgers are outstanding as well and there are some nice beers available on draft and in bottles.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez

                            Agree about heat. I mean, if a waiter asks "how spicy?" I'd like to tell him "whatever is best". I mean, a great painter wouldn't ask you how much blue or red you like, a great composer wouldn't say, "So... would you like a lot of violins with this symphony?" It's a neat vision, though, buying a painting from Van Gogh when he was still alive and telling his brother Theo you want a lot of red in it, and Theo shouting, "Yo! Yo, VINNIE!! MORE RED!!!"

                            But in that hot hot dish I got at Spicy and Tasty, there was a perfect layering of different flavors, nothing was drowned out.

                            1. re: Brian S

                              The Dan Dan Noodles, or the Pea Shoot appetizer that I had the other day, I think, are good examples of how heat can be an integral part of the dish, without being in your face. With the noodles especially, it sneaks up on you, co-mingling and intertwining with the flavor, not, as you say, dominating.

                  2. Sentosa is nearby, too. Real good Malaysian.

                    1. Was there today, 3pm. had the special lamb and a pea shoot appetizer, both good but not my favorites at this place. It wasn't all that crowded. for some reason, i'm not all that worried about the crowds. this place has gotten press for years. maybe i'm just too focused on the food. p.

                      1. did anyone go there this afternoon/evening? was there a crowd because of the 2 stars?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mimolette

                          Well, Mimolette, I happened to be wandering by at 8:55 p.m. on Saturday night and S&N was full, with 15-20 people waiting for seats. But I don't know if that's any different from normal -- I don't get out to Flushing much. A few minutes later when I walked by again, a few of them had been seated. There were only maybe 6-7 non-Asians in the whole place.

                          I was in the mood for Sichuan, but because of the line, I eventually went to that Sichuan Chengdu stand in the food court on Main St. between Sanford and Maple. Holy hot peppers, that was amazing. The environs were a little illicit-cigarette-smokey, but the food somehow caused me to ignore all that... (full report later).

                          Thanks again to everyone who talked about that place in this other thread:
                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                        2. I went Sunday night. They were overwhelmed. They couldn't handle all the people. An about half the crowd was roundeye. Had the Ma La lamb, very tender, very spicy. Ma la tendon was like eating wax dipped in lidocaine. Not a BAD thing, just weird.

                          And the fish with pepper and cabbage. that was spectacular.

                          1. I visited S&T on Saturday night and had quite a good meal. The only problem was that the "Spicy" side of the equation was completely lacking. I had to ask for some oil on the side, and once we had that everything was really excellent. We got there at around 6:45 and it was packed, but we were seated pretty quickly. I'd say about 90% of the people there during our meal were Chinese, we were among the few non. I doubt that the NYT review has really increased their traffic.

                            Between my wife and I, we ordered the Cold Sesame Noodles, String Beans with Dried Pepper (supposedly spicy), Shredded Pork and Lamb with Scallions. I wasn't expecting the noodles, lamb and pork to be very spicy but I expected some kind of heat, and there was absolutely none. I suspect they just removed everything from our dishes because they thought we didn't want it. The green beans were also 100% devoid of spice, even though they were supposed to be spicy. It would be nice if they asked us what we wanted, but I guess it really is our fault, we should have specified. Though we aren't spicy food fanatics, we like a little heat and were expecting some.

                            Without the spice, things were still quite tasty, but the addition of the chili oil really made our meal. Without that, it would have been an above-average Chinese place. Next time we plan on asking for spicy, though not on the level of real Chinese spicy which I know neither of us can handle.

                            1. I just wanted to add how delicious this restaurant is....in fact, I have the shrimp and noodles in my office right now. Also, I think this place is best for sitting in and eating a nice meal. While they do take-out, its impossible to even double-park outside, so I had to drive around the block while my co-worker ran in. The prices are perfect for an inexpensive meal at a restaurant, and I think a bit of what you pay for is the ambiance and the exceedingly nice manager. They are actually from Tiawan, and consider their food tiawanese. Go forth, eat Spicy & Tasty, and enjoy!