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Best Szechuan

c
calgal Jan 29, 2007 09:08 PM

I've read the posts from last year on places to get good/great Szechuan food. I've been to China Star, but would like to try other restaurants. Are TemptAsian and China Gourmet good? I know there was some debate about whether the quality had dropped off since Chef Chang left both restaurants.

  1. f
    FoodieGrrl Jan 30, 2007 10:00 AM

    China Gourmet no longer exists. After Chef Chang left, business plummeted and it is not a Thai restaurant.

    FWIW, I'm enamoured of Hong Kong Palace. First, it's proximity to my house is better than the others, and the food is excellent. The head waiter, Tom, is particularly helpful and charming. As for the heat level, if China Gourmet's spiciest dishes were a 10, HK Palace typically hovers around 7 or 8.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FoodieGrrl
      d
      Dakota Guy Jan 31, 2007 03:44 AM

      Please help me; I am confused. People seem to equate "heat" with authenticity and general "goodness" of Szechuan cooking. The chef from Hong Kong Palace, for example, is from Szechuan and cooks using traditional ingredients and recipes yet are not the "hottest" dishes around apparently.

      I am not criticizing anyone's views, mind you, I just want to understand. Are any of the readers here from Szechuan? How does one judge Szechuan food? Simply by the amount of numbing of the tongue and lips? I recognize that different Szechuan cooks may use different amounts of heat, just as different American cooks may make dishes more less hot or spicy. I just wonder what criteria we should use to judge Szechuan restaurants.

      1. re: Dakota Guy
        m
        MikeR Jan 31, 2007 03:59 AM

        I think that what you're reading into these posts is not about absolute heat (tolerance of which varies with the eater), but about the difference between "authentic" spicing and "just make it hotter than the #4 on the Americian menu." You often use the description "numbing" by chowhounds. This isn't putting so much capusin-laden chilis in the dish, but rather using whole szechuan peppercorns liberally rather than just a light taste.

        Any cook can put a handful of dried chilis in the wok along with the food, but most have learned that Americans are impressed with the "authenticity" but find the food to be too spicy. So they've come to tone it down, and that's pretty easy to notice and declare "not authentic.". A cook that spices food in a complimentary way makes food worth eating at whatever heat level it comes at.

    2. d
      deangold Jan 30, 2007 12:28 AM

      I just posted on a peking cheers thread. It is freaking awesome.

      2 Replies
      1. re: deangold
        w
        wayne keyser Jan 30, 2007 06:03 PM

        Where is Peking Cheers?

        1. re: wayne keyser
          Lydia R Jan 30, 2007 07:10 PM

          It's in a Gaithersburg strip shopping center behind a freestanding Starbucks. Navigation wise, it's off I-270 near the intersection of Clopper & Quince Orchard Roads: 519 Quince Orchard Road - 301/216-2090

          I was at the dinner DeanGold described in the thread below. Besides the food being native-hot and flavorful, it was also notable because our server was actually excited and happy that we were ordering from the six-page "Chinese" menu (this menu is currently not in a "booklet" it's held together by a hinged, snap ring clip on the upper left corner).

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/361917

      2. w
        wayne keyser Jan 29, 2007 10:40 PM

        How far are you willing to go?

        TemptAsian still has some good cooking - not the thrills they used to have, but well worth a visit.

        Hong Kong Palace (7 Corners) has been getting raves lately - I find the "heat level" much less than some other places, but there's nothing wrong with a little moderation now and then. I haven't been in a while, but I still host their (original) menu on my website www.goodmagic.com/private/menu.htm

        Sichuan Village 14005 Lee Jackson Hwy Chantilly - ask for the Chinese menu - the heat will leave you in awed reverence.

        Jasmine Garden (Shopping Center on the East side of Gallows Road at Route 50) - somewhat upscale, pretty "tingly", also worth a visit. Start with "Chicken with Three Pappers."

        Peking Village (2962 Gallows Road, across Gallows from Jasmine Garden) - frighteningly downscale place, well worth braving - Tyler Cowen raves about its authenticity - ask for the Chinese menu, stay far away from the buffet.

        2 Replies
        1. re: wayne keyser
          j
          Jamie D Jan 30, 2007 08:27 AM

          re heat at Hong Kong Palace, did you tell them you wanted it really hot and they failed to deliver? it's been my experience (3 times now) that I've told them I wanted it good n hot, "native level" and they have not disappointed.

          1. re: Jamie D
            w
            wayne keyser Jan 30, 2007 06:03 PM

            "Failed to deliver?" - No, I wouldn't say so. The peppers are clearly being used, but with subtlety. My impression was that the chef doesn't shovel on the heat like a maniac, but has a more restrained hand, and I'm quite prepared to accept it as his creative style.

            Sometimes I'd really like blast-furnace-heat, but (as long as he's not holding back because he doesn't believe me) I'd no more tell this chef that his dishes aren't hot enough than I'd tell [insert name of $200/plate French chef] that he needs to drown everything in sauce.

        2. s
          svt Jan 29, 2007 09:10 PM

          Yes, the quality drops when Chang leaves.

          Peking Cheers is getting talked up a lot these days. The chef from Joe's Noodle House has moved there, and the dishes are Szechuan and (from what I've heard) very good. I haven't been there yet, so this is second hand.

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