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Nov 18, 2007 04:43 PM

Real Sichuan food in Bay Ridge

The old OTB on 5th Ave between 86th and 87th has become a Sichuan restaurant. I saw it going in and was, of course, skeptical but hopeful. My wife and I are big Sichuan fans - we love Grand Sichuan on 24th St., Szechuan Gourmet, and Wu-Liang Ye.

Well, it's for real. We just visited and had dan dan noodles, soup dumplings, pea shoots and double-sauteed pork. The hostess told us the place is owned by the same person as Grand Sichuan on 56th and 2nd in Manhattan. (Which is not, apparently, the owner of 24th St. or St. Marks Place.)

So, I'd be lying if I said it was *exactly* the same - Dan Dan noodles weren't really that firey and the soup dumplings were a little gummy. BUT, the rest was dead on. I couldn't believe I was eating double sauteed just blocks away from 86 Noodles, where I had the worst imitation of the dish EVER.

The menu is the same multi-page affair we've seen at the other places, (though there is no "fresh killed" chicken page.)

Can't remember the exact name of the place! (It's not Grand Sichuan.) A yellow awning just below 86th, on 5th. East side of the street. Number on the (nameless) takeout menu is 718-680-8887.

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  1. Glad to hear this. When I got the obligatory menu shoved into my gate, I was intrigued. What turned me off was that they seemed to sell Japanese food as well...

    2 Replies
    1. re: carfreeinla

      Yes, it's true, they've also put a sushi chef in the back, which is indeed odd. Right now I'm sure they'd sell anything to get the locals in (since it was pretty quiet.)

      1. re: scooter

        I've seen a few BR Chinese menus with sushi added to them. Weird.
        I can't wait to try this place despite!

    2. This might win "best news" post of the year if they are able to match GS (W.24th St) and W-LYee. Thanks for the alert.

      14 Replies
        1. re: ropa vieja

          Finally went back in person, it's called "Grand Sichuan House." (So, duh, not that different from GS.)
          8701 5th Ave.

          Tonight I had "Cumin Beef" which was soooo good. Dry strips of beef, encrusted with chilies & cumin. Reminded me of "Wok Tossed Prawns with Sichuan pepper corn & spiced salt" at Szechuan Gourmet. Presentation was a little frou-frou with beautiful slivers of green onion and a carrot-flower for garnish.

          AND I had chinese broccoli as a side, and even this was amazing. Probably steamed, then sauteed with broth, butter, and chilies. It's the first chinese broccoli I've ever had that was intelligently sliced (diagonally) into deliciously thin pieces.

          We've also gotten takeout, and had "Chong Quing Spicy Chicken" - that was another "dry" dish like my cumin beef - not as good, though.

          Next week they are doing "hot pot," and they were very excited to tell me about it. (It's like shabu shabu, apparently.)

          Business seems criminally slow. God I hope they make it!

          Grand Sichuan House
          8701 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

          1. re: scooter

            We will support them! What about the sushi side- do you know? We are mourning the change at Nouvelle...

              1. re: irvingk

                the old chef is gone. Last few times we have gone, it has not been good. Sad;

              2. re: carfreeinla

                Just an update on the sushi side of this place. There isn't any anymore... I'm disappointed I didn't get to try it.

                As for the place in general, I got take out tonight and split with two friends. We got the Kung Pao Chicken and Shrimp: this was alright, nothing special... We got the Dan Dan Noodles, which I actually loved. We got the Crystal Dumplings which were a little dry and again, nothing special.

                And last but not least, the Chong Qing Double Cooked Pork: I liked the taste of this dish, but it was 2 oz of meat with 500 hot peppers! Do people sit there and eat these peppers?? I ate two and thought I would choke to death. If this is what this dish is like everywhere it is made, I find it to be a ripoff.

                Overall, the place was ok, not great and it was annoying that there was hardly any double cooked pork...

                1. re: hamstrman

                  > Do people sit there and eat these peppers??

                  Yes, they do. That's authentic Sichuan food, which the owner wasn't sure Bay Ridge diners would accept. That's why he added the sushi. That the sushi is no longer available suggests that the Sichuan food is finding an audience.

                  But if the double cooked pork really contained just two ounces of meat, I'd say you were short-changed.

                  Which Sichuan restaurants around town do you prefer?

                  1. re: hamstrman

                    Yeah, we tried the Chong Qing Spicy Chicken as takeout and didn't like it that much, either. Same impression - small amount of meat buried in an absurd amount of peppers. The "dry" texture of the chicken was interesting but ultimately there wasn't much to eat.

                    Next time I'd definitely recommend ordering plain old "Double Cooked Pork" (S11 on the takeout menu, still pleasantly spicy) rather than "Chong Qing Spicy Double Cooked Pork" (S17).

                    We have also tried the Kung Pao Chicken and Shrimp and found it pretty boring. As we work our way through the menu, not every thing is a winner, especially as takeout.

                    I'd definitely recommend giving it another chance in general. Look for the raves in this thread and try those things!

                    1. re: hamstrman

                      "And last but not least, the Chong Qing Double Cooked Pork: I liked the taste of this dish, but it was 2 oz of meat with 500 hot peppers!"

                      Two ounces? Come on.

                      I've been to GSH 4 times and I've found the portions to be very generous indeed. Bigger than those served at the Grand Sichuan chain in Manhattan, Szechuan Gourmet, and Wu Liang Ye. Bigger than Spicy and Tasty in Flushing. Only little Pepper serves equal sized portions.

                      Most recently we were there on Friday night. The nearly unanimous praise on this thread and the recent Daily News article seems to have helped their business. There were 4 tables occupied, one with a group of about 8 people. There was also a steady stream of people getting takeout.

                      Steve R. recently introduced me to the chili beef dish and I made it a point of ordering a full portion this time around. Outstanding, as were the old favorites cheng du dumplings, dan dan noodles, and cumin beef.

                      As we were tucking in to our starters we heard raised voices over in the front of the restaurant by the cash register. A man was demanding that they make him chop suey and chow mein. I overheard him taunting the very pleasant waitress - "You're Chinese and you don't know how to make chop suey? I'm never coming back to this place!"

                      You can't please everybody.

                      1. re: Bob Martinez

                        I agree about the portions. Each time that I have gone, I have had more protein in each dish than in any other Chinese restaurant that I can think of. The prices feel a bit higher than in other places in BR, but I will happily pay them. Think of how lucky we are to have local delivery for such good food.

                        1. re: carfreeinla

                          You guys know I'm a huge fan of this place, but I'll just repeat myself - I ordered another Chong Qing dish as takeout and had the same basic impression. Ratio of dried hot peppers to meat was about 3:1. Hamstrman is not crazy - he just "ordered wrong."

                          There so much good stuff at this place, that it would be a shame to write them off based on those two dishes. Hope he gives it another try.

                          1. re: scooter

                            I ordered the Chong Quing chicken dish about a month ago as part of meal with a large group. Yes. the chicken was covered by a pile of peppers. No, it wasn't "2 ounces." It was a substantial portion of meat. Now maybe those peppers count as a distraction but the overall amount of chicken was generous.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez

                              Agreed that it might work better in house, where you've got a variety of dishes on the table and a general abundance of food. I'm sure the presentation on a plate makes much more sense, and the portion may very well be different.

                              When you've got it at home as takeout and you expected it to be your main dish, it's disappointing - you're digging through a carton for those tiny morsels. 2oz is a low estimate, but it did seem to be less than one half breast's worth, maybe 4oz.

                              Of course, that's normal for many other dishes, too, but there the other ingredients are edible.

                            2. re: scooter

                              That's common in at sichuan places in china, little tiny bits of chicken on the bone and tons of dried chilis.

              3. I have been to Grand Sichuan House several times since opening and I could not be happier to live at 79th and 5th in Bay Ridge.

                The steamed pork dumpling are exemplary. The fresh ginger and scallions used in the dumplings is incredible, and the skins, to me, are absolutely perfect. The scallion pancake is most likened to a slightly thinner version of New Green Bo's. I have had the julienned jellyfish with scallion, mung bean noodle with spicy pepper sauce, sliced pumpkin with ginger and scallion, loofah, sweet potato cakes, and the wonderful shredded chicken with sour cabbage. Their soups, particularly the shredded pork with pickled cabbage noodle and the fish fillet with pickled mustard green noodle soups, are wonderful and a welcome change from my 4th and 86th pho addiction, and the shredded potatoes in vinegar sauce is unlike any version I have yet had (blanched shredded potatoes with slivers of pungent green chile in a clear vinegar sauce). I will try to start working through the casseroles soon (the beef and turnip looks particularly good), as well as the plethora of lovely fish dishes being offered. Oh, and the dry and salted crispy pig intestine is very well-done; the best version I have had outside of China. Also, their brown rice (you will be offered either white or brown) is perfection; nutty, perfectly cooked and a wonderful compliment particularly to the vegetable dishes. If you happen to find yourself in and around 86th for shopping or en route to the Dyker Heights holiday houses (a lovely stroll down 86th from the restaurant and not very far at all), this is a wonderful stop. And the complimentary pot of green jasmine tea is quite lovely, as is the ending of perfectly juicy and vibrant oranges. I knew this place was going to be special. I just wasn't prepared for just how special it truly is. Enjoy!

                Grand Sichuan House
                8701 5th Avenue (btw. 87th and 88th)
                Brooklyn, 11209
                (718) 680-8887
                Mon.-Thurs. 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
                Fri. & Sat. 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
                Sun. 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ene

                  I live a few minutes from there and have been ordering from the Chinese-American menu, lunch specials and the such. I used to go to Chopstix for these. I don't know Sichuan food. Start me off with some recommendations from their menu.

                  1. re: Lschneide

                    If you are not afraid of something that's a little fatty, double-sauteed pork seems like a pretty standard Sichuan entree. Pork is cooked once, sliced thin, then sauteed with leeks and sichuan peppercorns (which have a unique slow burn). The end result is a lot like bacon. GSH's version was good.

                    Two basic sichuan appetizers are Dan Dan Noodles (noodles with chili sauce) and dumplings swimming in the same kind of chili sauce.

                    Things they have on the menu that are not strictly sichuan - soup dumplings (we thought these were just OK) and sauteed pea shoots (best vegetable ever.)

                    And finally, another thing we like to get at the Manhattan Sichuans is "Tea Smoked Duck" (again, not for the fat-averse.) Haven't tried it from GSH yet.

                  1. We went for lunch today. Empty, but it seemed they were doing a decent delivery/takeout business. The soup dumplings were great (second the opinion that the dough was a little thick, but they were still fantastic). Had the pea sprouts and the twice cooked pork. Everything was great, and I'm already looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: nnovoy

                      we got take out tonight. Empty. Can't say that they were doing any delivery business. I am on a diet so I couldnt try much. Both dishes that I ordered had lots of protein in them- a rare thing these days. We will be back too...

                      1. re: carfreeinla

                        this place is great. in addition to seconding the pea shoots and dan dan noodles and soup dumplings cited above, i also recommend the salt and pepper shrimp, the cold cucumber appetizer, the cold pork tripe appetizer, chicken with chinese broccoli (not as boring as it sounds), and a dish not on the menu of sliced sauteed flounder and baby bok choy, which is incredibly spicy. be warned: they claim they will make things mild upon request, but that has not been my experience. and they do not mess around with those peppercorns.

                        1. re: ropa vieja

                          Question for some of you who've been there. Are the dishes like pumpkin with ginger and scallion, shredded chicken with sour cabbage and flounder with baby bok choy at all greasy? Does this place use a lot of oil?

                          1. re: sourcherry

                            I haven't had the dishes you list, but the stuff I've had doesn't seem greasy. (I guess the most comparable thing I've ordered was the chicken with chinese broccoli, like ropa vieja above. It's in a clear, somewhat buttery-tasting sauce with the sichuan peppercorns. Not heavy at all. Like I said earlier, some dishes like Cumin Beef are surprisingly "dry," but in a good way.)

                            1. re: scooter

                              Thanks. But just curious - Chinese restaurants don't use butter at all. Do they? Another post mentioned pea shoots with butter and that seemed odd.

                              1. re: sourcherry

                                Yeah, I was just there tonight, and thinking about how I'm probably way off on that. What I'm probably tasting is sesame oil.

                                We had the "hot pot" (thin sliced chicken, pork, and beef, cellophane noodles, tofu, spinach, all of which you dunk in a boiling pot of chicken stock.) It came with "Sichuan New Years' Sauce" - sesame oil, garlic, and cilantro.

                                (It's a special, documented only in Chinese on the last page of the menu. Amusingly, the hostess, who is a sweetie, kept pointing to the page in order to explain all of the different options, as if we could follow along.)

                                1. re: scooter

                                  scooter, you mention upthread "cumin beef" and it has set my nerves tingling. But looking at the menu, I'm not seeing it. Could you suggest another name for it? tx Deb

                                  1. re: Deb Van D

                                    You are right, it doesn't seem to be in the take-out menu or the online version linked above. It appears on the first page of the in-house menu, and the wording is slightly different ("beef w/ cumin" perhaps.)

                                    I've successfully ordered it for take out - the woman was quickly able to figure out what I meant.

                                    1. re: scooter

                                      Great, thanks! Tonight could be the night . . .

                                2. re: sourcherry

                                  Not traditionally. It's steamed and likely in a combination of oil and maybe chicken broth.