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Lao Sze Chuan - Could there be authentic Chinese sit-down in Milford CT?

A new sit-down Chinese restaurant, located in a small strip mall on Route 1, across from Village Bagels & Linens & Things and next to Conte's!! It looks so cute from the street, like a really nice sit-down Chinese restaurant, and with all the asian writing on the facade, it makes me wonder if it will be very authentic with a lot of asians dining there--always a great sign. Clean and crisp looking with hardwood floors and white tablecloths. I stopped by before lunch to pick up a menu, but it wasn't opened yet, so I did a google search and lo-and-behold, the owner owns two other branches in Chinatown in Chicago and another in Illinois, both with seemingly good reviews. The menu looks so wonderful. Pig Ear, Pork Stomach, Sour Pickle, chinese okra and chinese broccoli! Check out the website. Let us know if you have been. We hope to try it tonight; you know I'll send a full report back.

www.laoszechuan.com

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  1. We went. It was awesome. Totally authentic. We were one of the only non-Asian tables there, with the exception of a single white guy and another guy with his asian family. Lots of large party tables. Food was quite good. Hostesses were both extremely gracious, telling us to take our time with the large menu and readily offering assistance with all of our questions, and later checking on us multiple times. There was so much to choose from. For apps we got scallion pancakes, panfried dumplings and pickled cucumbers. For entrees we got twice cooked pork with jalapenos (with the fat), beef with garlic sauce that was very good with squash, peppers and mushrooms, pan fried shrimp (for my DS), and dan dan noodles that were so spicy that my lip was done for the night. Since it is primarily szechuan, lots of food is spicy, but they will try to mild it down for the weak. THere were so many other items we would have loved to try. Next time, I want to definitely get a veg on the side (chinese broccoli?) and perhaps try the whole fish with the bone because it looked incredible. Lots of patrons were getting casserole items. The place was packed from our arrival at 6:30 until we left. Since it is authentic, the food is brought out as it is cooked, so expect to eat family-style, sharing everything or else you may wait alone to eat. Also, a tidbit for those with small kids, they only have soda and tea and OJ, so if your kid is a juice drinker, bring your own juice boxes. I cannot say enough and am so excited to have this in Milford. They also offer take-out and free delivery. And, they accept reservations.

    11 Replies
    1. re: cheereeo

      Located at 1585 Boston Post Road, Milford, 783-0558, across from Linen N Things. Lao Sze Chuan Chinese restaurant in Milford is very good. It is not American Chinese food where everything is in brown sauce. It is not Cantonese, Shanghai food,It serves authentic Szechuan (Hot) food.

      1. re: cheereeo

        I had to comment again since we went back today during lunch. Clearly, they weren't ready for so many to be off for Martin Luther King Day. The place was jammin' on Monday by Noon with only two servers, and it appeared two chefs. I wanted to remind folks who aren't used to authentic style Chinese restaurants that it is quite normal for them to bring out food as it is made--so you may end up with one entree and have to wait for another. While I agree that this can be a nuisance, it is always what I have experienced at different authentic chinese places. I saw many non-Asians today getting annoyed: when one patron got his entree, he said in a snotty huff, "FINALLY!" and a woman at another table actually commented to the hostess, "We won't be back." I felt badly--the hostess even apologized to us for the long wait explaining that they weren't expecting it to be so busy on a Monday, which we really didn't notice. $6 lunch special includes soup, egg or spring roll, rice and entree--can't be beat, especially for their quality. And an update to my earlier post; it appears they now have apple juice for kids!

        1. re: cheereeo

          Went last night and was thoroughly delighted!!! I did however, resist the urge to try new things as I ordered some familiar things, so as to compare their foods more easily to other restaurants. I got the Kung Pao prawns, my wife the orange beef, egg rolls, and pork dumplings. Everything was FANTASTIC...except for the pork dumplings. A little bland--especially for a szechuan rest. But, I give them my highest praises on the rest of the meal. Now, I'm going to be going back to taste some of the more exotic items on their menu!!! Good stuff.

          1. re: stormshadow

            I don't think I'm up for pig ear and pork stomach!!!

            I checked out their menu online. Can someone tell me what HOT POT is?

            I think I'll be there for LUNCH, as dinner prices are too expensive for my unemployed self.

            FYI, to out of towners, Linens N Things is closing, so if you're using that as a marker...

            1. re: Bette

              Think of hot pot as the meat and vegetables you'd normally get in a stir fry, but is instead braised in a ceramic pot--and is brought to the table.

              Sounds like you prefer American-Chinese food :)

              1. re: stormshadow

                I'm willing to experiment, but stomach, kidneys, ears?? NO WAY!!

                Thanks for the info on Hot Pot.

                1. re: Bette

                  Weenie! Think weeniers. I believe they have all those things inside; just ground up.

                2. re: stormshadow

                  actually hot pot is kinda like a savory fondue except the base is a broth and not cheese. so you choose whichever soup base you'd like and order what kind of meat/veggies you'd like. they bring out the meat/veggies on platters and you cook the meat/veggies in the broth. i havent had hot pot at this new place but asian hot pot in general is always a fun, interactive, and delicious meal.

                  btw, stomach or tripe is delicious in hot pot. the tripe is a good carrier or flavors. ive never had pork ears in hot pot but ive had them braised -- very good.

                  1. re: sprinklez

                    When eating my hot pot fish leftovers today, my 5" diameter bowl had a quarter of an inch of oil on top. This is after the restaurant meal and them packaging it to-go for me. Is this normal? Why so much (red), oil?

                    1. re: Scargod

                      its probably the palm oil with the peppercorn flowers.... i think ma la, which is ubiquitous in szechuan cooking.... but i'm not sure

                      1. re: kubasd

                        SO reminded me that she specifically heard the owner say that the calamari was cooked in Wesson oil (soy bean oil). I guess the "hot oil" could be almost anything, but it did not congeal in the fridge; a good thing....

        2. NI HAO! I love this place! :) Went for the second time today. Because it was Saturday, no lunch specials, but we each had hot and sour soup (delicious), then shared an order of Szechuan dumplings in hot chili oil (WOW!) and chicken and black bean sauce. I actually said "immensely outstanding!" while we were eating...and that is about all I said (which is rare) because I was so focused on enjoying the food. My only recommendation would be to keep eating spicy if you start that way. We probably did the black bean dish a disservice since our taste buds were so fired up from all the garlic/chiles/pepper in the other two dishes we had. Even still, the chicken in black bean sauce was really good.

          I had my eye on an appetizer that a couple near us had--very thinly sliced meat of some sort...sliced so thin it was almost transparent like prosciutto. I finally asked--it was the pig ear! I have to say when I first read about it here, I wasn't interested, but having seen it in person...I WANT THAT NEXT TIME! I told the other diners I had lunch envy. ;)

          And if you're not from Milford (I'm not), you can make a day of your trip now that the weather's getting nicer. Lao Sze Chuan is just a short ride from Silver Sands State Park. We walked to the island today after lunch--what fun!
          http://www.ct.gov/DEP/cwp/view.asp?A=...

          I can't think of a Chinese restaurant in CT better than this one. What a treat!

          P.S. I found this place because of reading about it here on Chowhound--THANK YOU to everyone who recommended it!

          -----
          Lao Sze Chuan Chinese Restaurant
          1585 Boston Post Rd, Milford, CT 06460

          1. Like kattyeyes, I heard about Lao Sze Chuan on Chowhound.
            First of all, they do not sell any alcoholic beverage but beer. This disappointed SO. Perhaps all they have is Tsingtao beer, since that was all they offered us!
            The place is starkly plain an unimaginative. The lights are bright. I don't think there is but one plant and no art or wall treatments. This makes for a very plain and austere setting. The staff is readily available since they all stand around in one area, near the register. The food makes up for these oddities...
            We ordered fried pork dumplings. Not sure if these were made on-premises. Fried is a misnomer. They are sauteed and browned, with a very fine mixture inside. They were OK. The waitress was barely decent with English so we were unsure whether our appetizer was being worked on as we figured out our entrees. When I ordered my sole I had trouble understanding exactly what I was getting. Later the owner confirmed that I had ordered vegetables in a hot broth with sole fish pieces on top.; their "hot" dish. SO ordered a stir-fried chicken nuggets with chiles dish. All it had with it was chiles and a few chopped jalapenos that had been fried with the battered chicken. It was good and not that hot, but became boring since it was a fairly plain dish. My fish was delicious, in a spicy broth with just a few bok choy like vegetables. This was called Szechaun Hot pot Sauce with vegetables.
            We ran into friends so we sat together and shared food. Their (cold), Ox tongue with tripe was good. Their stir-fried Chinese broccoli with garlic (and oyster sauce?), was delicious. I did not taste any oyster sauce...
            I/we ate some of their "baby" calamari which was tasty and of good quality, but greasy. They had some kind of transluscent 1/4" square noodle dish which had a spicy peanutty savory dressing. They were like big square worms. They were OK; the dressing was really tasty!. I can't figure out what the dish was. One had some kind of dessert broth which looked a lot like egg whites in chicken broth. He called it "scrambled brains soup". He didn't share!
            We liked the food. With no wine or ambiance you go there strictly for the great food.

            We were told that they can have hiccups in service and food if the owner is not present. She is an attractive, about thirty-five YO, Chinese woman. Since the friends were regulars, we were well taken care of and her English is flawless. She is a great person to have help you if you are inexperienced! The menu is large and somewhat intimidating. The food is a good value. We did not think the "hot" dishes were that hot; closer to medium. There is usually "heat" available if you eat the chiles. With three beers (but no dessert), our meal was $50. I'd like to go back and try more of their food. This meal was a cut above...

             
             
             
             
            5 Replies
            1. re: Scargod

              Hey, Scargod:
              I was kinda wondering why both you and stormshadow found the dumplings to be bland while I found ours to be so spicy and flavorful. I just took a look at the takeout menu. We had the Szechuan dumplings in red chili sauce. I think both of you must have ordered the steamed or fried dumplings. If you are heat/spice seekers, try the Szechuan ones the next time. They're generously sauced with red chili oil and garlic--I loved 'em! And I was pleasantly on fire (flushed cheeks and neck) between that and the H&S soup!

              1. re: kattyeyes

                I had food hot enough, but it didn't make me sweat or need to blow my nose. So I didn't consider it at all too hot.
                The dumplings (or pot stickers), wrappers were a bit chewy; I forgot to mention that. I have had others, where the pork inside was discernible as pork ad tasted like pork, whereas this was a smooth, dark mixture that didn't stand out as anything in particular.
                I just had the sole leftovers, in a soft flour tortilla, for lunch. Yummy! I'm ready to go back...

                1. re: Scargod

                  OK, now, LSC leftovers in a tortilla take fusion to a new level, wouldn't you say?!

                  The dumplings you're describing are v. different from what we had. The Szechuan ones were not at all chewy. I could go for more of them right about now. That and a plate of the pig ear and some more soup!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Thank you, CHounders--what an excellent place! Tried it about a week ago and I am already looking for excuses to go back to Milford. I had the Szechuan dumplings on your regard Katty and I didn't find them too hot, until about the 4th one when that red chili oil had thoroughally coated the back of my throat, then the heat started to kick in--not too bad though, could've been hotter. I also had the orange chicken which was excellent (ordered orange beef, but I'm not gonna complain). My friend ordered the Chicken with peas, carrots and pine nuts--it was like eating the inside of a pot pie. She also had the thai-style noodles, which were very good. Great food and reasonable prices!

              2. re: Scargod

                The square noodles were probably 绿豆涼粉 (mung bean starch) noodles, often called "green bean jelly" in translation.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liangfen

                The Chinese call mung beans "green beans" while American string beans are 四季豆 or literally "four season beans". You might also encounter long beans, which are 豇豆 in Chinese and usually minced.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigna_un...

              3. Here's another authentic one: FORMOSA "FUSION" RESTAURANT 132 Middletown Ave, (Montowese Ave to 103) in North Haven. Don't let the upscale look and "Fusion" in the name discourage. Just go in and ask for the "Traditional" menu. Yes, it is one of those two in one restos; upscale CT suburban AND authentic Szechuan. When the menu starts off with the fried intestines, you know. The chef is from Cheng Du.
                I had their chive & shrimp dumplings, 4 for $4 they were better than the ones in my favorite dim sum places. I also had Ma Po Tofu and it was classic velveted soft tofu, ground pork & scallions served with a good dose of chili oil and sprinkle of very fresh tasting Szechuan pepper/salt. Next time I will be tempted to try their Tong Po Pork (braised fresh bacon). I got out of there for less than $12 with a Tsingtau!

                11 Replies
                1. re: Chefmyron

                  Sounds great and that's slightly closer to home, too. Now it's on my ever-growing list of CH-endorsed places to eat. :) Thanks!

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Have you checked out my map? http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&...
                    Alphabetically listed, they also show up readily if you do a Google Map search of "user content" only (under search options).

                    1. re: Scargod

                      Thanks--I just saved it as a favorite.

                  2. re: Chefmyron

                    Chefmyron, I appreciate your suggestion of Formosa Fusion and that you alerted us to the fact that there is a "traditional/Chinese" menu available. It was like going to a club and knowing the secret handshake--that in itself was pretty cool.

                    We did order from the traditional menu tonight and, in fact, tried the chive and shrimp dumplings as you suggested. Neither of us had had Chinese chive dumpings before. They are small, wrapped discs that appear green as the dumpling wrapper is so thin and tightly wrapped around the fillings. The shrimp inside were tiny baby shrimp--you could easily miss the fact there were shrimp present as the dumpling is loaded with Chinese chives. Nonetheless, they were tasty and it was interesting to try something new.

                    For me, Formosa is not on a par with Lao Sze Chuan, but not due to a lack of authenticity. I just didn't care for it as much. Is it better than the average Chinese place? Definitely. Was service an issue? Not at all. I just must say every dish we had there was better at Lao Sze Chuan, which, for me is now the shining star of Chinese cuisine in the state of Connecticut.

                    We started with vegetarian hot and sour soup. For the past 20+ years, my barometer of how good a Chinese restaurant will be is usually accurately based on how good their hot and sour soup is. It is not that their soup was bad--it's just that I've had better at (in order of preference) LSC in Milford, Samurai in Old Saybrook and Clinton's Taste of China. Formosa's hot and sour had an excessive tang/sweetness, which I'm guessing was due to more vinegar or sherry (or both) than in other recipes. It was good--I've just had others that were more to my liking. We also had Kung Pao Chicken *from the Chinese menu* (apparently they serve it two different ways). What was different about this preparation was chunks of something like a parsnip...or so the man who appeared to be the owner told us. It was white and in small chunks as water chestnuts usually are, and it had a similar texture, but a sweetness that was almost gingery. The same man (owner?) explained he did not think there was an English name for what it was, but that it was like a Chinese parsnip and that it could also be eaten as a fruit--and it sounded phonetically like sa-god (?). It was spicy, flavorful and we ate it all happily. But at first bite, I thought, oh, bummer, this isn't as good as Lao Sze Chuan. I was really hoping it would be, as Milford is a haul from my house. But I would rather make the special trip, as it really is worth it for the food.

                    Last comment. Ever really want something sweet to end your meal--especially after you've had something spicy and want to clear that taste from your mouth? That was me tonight. I really would have loved a fried banana or even better, the spring roll/wonton wrappers with fried banana inside, but that wasn't on the menu, so I opted for the dark chocolate cake "with mango reduction." Sadly, this was a joke--mango reduction translated to chunks of mango (not fresh) in a sauce alongside a poorly-executed chocolate cake with subpar supermarket-tasting canned frosting. We ate it, anyway, and it did the palate cleansing trick, but boy, was that a sad waste of $7.

                    I'm always glad to try someplace new, but my thoughts on best Chinese in this neck of the woods, in order of preference, remain as follows:
                    1 with a bullet: Lao Sze Chuan, Milford
                    2. Samurai, Old Saybrook
                    3. Taste of China, Clinton

                    1. re: kattyeyes

                      Now I am tempted to try this place with the secret menu!
                      Not Chinese, but have you tried The terrace? http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5198...

                      1. re: Scargod

                        Welcome home! I haven't heard of The Terrace, but I love Thai and will keep it on my radar--thanks!

                        If you like the secret menu joint better than LSC, let me know. I will keep driving to Milford if I'm heading in that direction--for me, it's just that good and worth the extra miles for the payoff.

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          Thanks. We should meet up at The Terrace! Check out our trip photos. I've still got over half of it to post.

                          1. re: Scargod

                            Sounds fun. Hit me offline when you want to set something up.

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              Hopefully noone here was victimized by the creep who owns The Terrace. He just got busted for .. Well, you can see at http://www.courant.com/community/hamd...

                              1. re: ratbuddy

                                Saw that on the morning news and was grateful I a) never used the facilities there and b) only went once. Creepy indeed!

                                1. re: ratbuddy

                                  OMG! Saw this this AM too. creepy is right!!!

                    2. Went there tonight (3/14/09) based on the recommendations of others on this board. And boy am I glad I did. This place is the best Chinese I've had in a long time.

                      We didn't get anything crazy like pork stomach. We got Orange Beef, Cumin Beef, Kung Pao Chicken, crispy chicken with chilis, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, General Chao's, and Chicken with Broccoli. Everything is kinda spicy, but every dish tasted different. Just know that the food was delicious and the service was great. The waitress spoke English well and explained any questions we had about the menu. We got about 7 entrees, plus 2 fried rice (pork and Young Chow) and dumplings, no sodas and the bill came to $111 without the tip. There were seven of us.

                      This is easily our new favorite Chinese restaurant in CT and quickly makes our top 5 in all of Milford.

                      Thank you fellow chowhounders!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: johnpops1

                        That's great to hear! And glad to have you joining more in the fray...

                        "The waitress spoke English well" I didn't mean to imply that it was a serious obstacle, or that other servers are at all challenged. It just took a while, with a little back and forth dialog, to understand each other on the one issue. After that, and another question, I did not feel I could go into any in-depth discussions regarding the menu, with her specifically.
                        The owner spoke perfect English and was very helpful and informative. My comments shouldn't give anyone pause in going there!

                      2. Just had lunch there today. I can only say this: it might be authentic but holy sh** did they OD on the MSG. I am sitting here going through MSG after-effects and they are NOT pleasant.

                        Surprising as this place is rated v highly and is supposed to be 1 of the best "Chinese" in the lower CT area. I can only hope that the kitchen was also having a day off. 1 large party there enjoying themselves and a few lone tables.

                        Will give this another try...but with trepidation.

                        1. This restaurant has been (unknown to them) named a finalist in a contest for top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the US. The contest is run by a industry magazine for Chinese and Asian restaurants.
                          It was nominated by their suppliers.
                          I have been chosen to dine there (undercover) and submit a report and photos.

                          I used to doubt the credibility of these Industry magazine based 'Best 100" contests, but now that the magazine has come to a foodie from outside the industry and is paying for the report, and the restauarnt does not even know they have nominated, I have uped my estimate of the contest and restaurant.

                          I drive by this restaurant every week, but have never dined there, I look forward tp the experience.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: bagelman01

                            Interesting inside info! And how exciting for LSC--I love this place!

                            1. re: bagelman01

                              So, bagelman01, inquiring minds wanna know...I WANNA KNOW! What did you think?

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                I'm not free to post an actual menu specific report. BUT>>the food was fabulous. The dishes were imaginative and spiced nicely. No chile overkill. Sevice was swift and attentive. Prices reasonable, the dining room was comfortable and not overcrowded. I have returned twice with my wife to dine and we have enjoyed every dish we tried.

                                Note; I am not usually a fan of Szechuan cuisine due to the over spicing in many restaurants, but this place is exceptional.

                                1. re: bagelman01

                                  Terrific! I hope they make the Top 100 and that you can let us know if they do. They deserve it. Wonder if they're open today...I'm overdue for a visit.

                                  1. re: kattyeyes

                                    Don't know if they are open today, hope so. We just came home from seeing two movies, and will be going out for Chinese tonight (just not sure where).........A perfect Jewish Xmas

                                  2. re: bagelman01

                                    They (their parent restaurant, anyway) won!
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679180
                                    Great news and thanks again to cheereeo!

                                    1. re: kattyeyes

                                      Katty,
                                      If you follow the links to the actual Top 100 lists, you will find that the Milford Restaurant did not make the overall Top 100 list, BUT they did make the Top 100 in the LOCAL FAVORITES list.

                                      I had this information December 20th, but as one who was asked to eat and judge I was not allowed to reveal it.

                                      I can say that I did eat in and judge 20 restaurants and 2 were in the national top 10 (numbers 9 and 10).