Sichuan Gourmet (Billerica) a little help?
made the trip down 3A yesterday with the Kid and while we liked the place and could see that it has potential for us i need a little direction with regards to ordering.
first, we got the Dan Dan noodles which we liked A LOT but i was wondering if this dish is traditionally made with vermicelli and not a more lo-mein like noodle.
we also did the Old Sichuan Chicken and while it was OK i was not too impressed with the frying. it also had a prominent 5 spice flavor and the spiciness was really not there.
another odd dish was the Minced Pork with Sichuan Long Green Bean. after we made the order someone came out to tell us that the long beans were pickled and 'very sour,' no biggie, we like sour, bring it on. when it arrived the long beans had been chopped so small as to make eating with chopsticks a slightly frustrating affair and it had no real taste other than pickles.
and lastly we got the Pork with Chinese Eggplant. now while the sauce was decent with a bit of heat i found the pieces of eggplant too big. granted the skin was scored so that when you bit down you didn't get all the skin in the first bite but really, these were big pieces. the pork was pretty good though.
i did notice that when we left we were the only caucasians in the place and that most people ordering were not using any type of menu, just chatting with the servers and being brought food. is there some secret code?
any help will be appreciated and if you can point us in the direction of the most authentic Sichuan dishes here we'd really love that.
If you want hotter than hell, try the fish dish that is the only 3 pepper dish on the menu. Comes out in a giant soup bowl w/ sichuan peppercorns floating all over the top. Then eat the spicy eggplant dish and it'll taste sweet :-)
Dan dan noodles depend on who's making it. It can be done w/ white or yellow noodles (I prefer the yellow noodles myself).
Also try the sizzling rice dishes. While not really spicy, it tastes good.
And yes, this sichuan gourmet is frequented by chinese more than the other sichuan dishes in the area...mostly because the chef isn't afraid of laying on the spices (unlike the sichuan gourmet in woburn).
If your son can survive the bowl of fish hell, I'd be impressed ;-)
lol...he's gotta try the fish stew from hell then. It's the only 3 chili item on the menu so you can't miss it ;-)
Definitely get the spicy eggplant dish to go w/ it. You'll be amazed what other flavors you can taste from it afterwards...sorta sweet and eggplant tasting instead of just spicy before you eat the fish stew.
The pork with eggplant is on their perpetual "specials" menu sheet, and is one of my favorites -- the spicy sauce (more of a tongue tingling than a hot sensation) and the sweetness of the eggplant contrast each other perfectly. I usually have them substitute chicken for the pork however.
the cumin dry beef is a huge love of mine. i wish i could find a place in the city that did that (since i don't have a car and the burbs might as well be nairobi for me). that's something i get every single time i go there.
i like dry beef in general, but man ... being a cumin fan, that really kicks it up quite nicely.
the other thing i really like there is (might not be the exact name) the braised chicken w/ napa cabbage. i'm able to find that (under varying names & meats) at local places though (e.g. Zoes)
I like the chicken with spicy chili sauce (2 peppers). The chicken rests on bok choy and if you have any leftovers the next day, the chilis have turned the bok choy into instant kimchi.
My favorites are the five flavor beef (not spicy at all, but thin slices of tendon with lots of flavor); the bamboo shoots (either the wonder sauce or the spicy version - great side dish), ma po tofu (super spicy), and the long wonton soup, which I get the large or 20 wonton size so I can slurp to my hearts content. Also love the dan-dan noodles. Don't go Tues night - the chef is off and the chicken soup (actually, everything) suffers. Weekends are very busy, but also seems to be the best food - maybe because of the high turnover.
i ate at the framingham location on a monthly basis for the last 4 years. most chinese restaurants keep 2 menus while one's more authentic chinese, the other tend to be americanized. this place combines the 2 so i guess the best thing to do is avoid everything that seems familiar.
as far as the dish you ordered, i can only decipher a few as translations between chinese and english are never perfect. dandan noodle comes usually in white noodle, but i don't see why it can't be done in other ways. the minced pork and long bean is one of those classic chinese peasant dishes from the past that spark sporadic interests even among chinese. personally i like it. i think the beans are marinated/preserved in vinegar before use, though i am not sure. the acidity is what makes the dish and the strong flavor "goes down well" with plain rice.
this is what i would usually order when i eat there. do remember that i am describing the entries here and because i usually order in chinese, i have no idea what they name the dishes in english.
for appetizers, the cold noodles are great; so is the beef with tendons.
tea smoked duck is good, though it may be a little dry. if you and your family don't mind eating some amount of pork fat (like bacon), the twice cooked pork is pretty good. i like the bamboo shoots with ribs. there's also an entry on the weekend menu that featured pork bellies sandwiched between slices of taro root then steamed to silky perfection.
the "stew from hell" dishes are not bad if you haven't had it before. you get to choose between pork, beef or fish. though they are not americanized, there's some distance between this and the real thing.
another dish they have from time to time features boneless fish pieces cooked in a heavily spiced broth. very fragrant.
the one problem they have is that they really don't have too many good veggie dishes. so i suppose you can order like a chinese and ask them what veggies they have that day and what's the reccomended method of preparation.
good luck eating.