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Jan 17, 2008 03:38 PM

1st visit to Szechuan 99

After treking to the Edmonds Ranch 99, myself, my husband and the pups were very hungry. The fact is, even if you nibble at the table of every single sample lady in the place, you will still be hungry at the end, especially if one pup is a growing and permenantly famished boy.

As we walked out the door, we spotted a flyer for Szechuan 99. The name rang a bell as a place I had heard of from this board so we headed on over.

Coming from so cal and the riches of the san gabriel valley, our chinese food standards are high and that includes our standards for szechuan. In the 3 months since arriving in Seattle, we have found 2 places serving Chinese that we liked--the Xi'an restaurant on Lake City and Mike's in the ID. So we approached Szechuan 99 with a great deal of hopefulness but a bit of trepidation. We were not disappointed.

In approaching a brand new restaurant, there are two approaches: ordering a few items cautiously or throwing caution to the wind and ordering way way too much food [even if one of the eaters is a bottomless pit]. We always go for the more is better approach.

We started with 3 cold special dishes--firm tofu with peanuts, shredded potato cold dish and hot spicy beef slice. Everything was very tasty, so tasty that there was nothing to bring home.

Our main courses included fish with tofu [listed as a special], Xin Jian Cumin lamb, twice cooked pork [listed as a special that night], sauteed spinach, 99 tofu and hand shaved noodles with pork. When originally persuing the menu, we noticed that the Chinese version of the specials had more stuff listed than the English side. Humph. But the waitress was happy to translate and tell us what the unnamed items were.

Everything was delicious. I was particularly fond of the twice cooked pork which seemed to include the thick cut rice noodles. My husband thought the dish was delicious but perhaps the noodles were a way of using less meat. I think the noodles might make the dish more appealing to American tastes which are less fond of fatty meat. I also really like the fish with tofu--the sauce was very flavorful and the fish was fresh and light.

My husband's favorite was the lamb and the 99 tofu. The smell of the lamb brought back memories of food stands in Beijing. If only the taste of american lamb lived up to the smell! But this is probably a personal preference and no fault of Szechuan 99. The lamb was tender and cuminy and very tasty.

In the 99 tofu, the tofu is cut in cubes and deep fried and then [i think] stir fried with dry fried green beens and chilis. Its a very tasty dish but like all fried dishes, is not nearly as good the next day. So if you order it, be sure to eat it all up.

For a green veggie, we had the spinach which was nicely prepared. Even the younger pup ate her share which is saying alot since she seems to think that the color green when applied to food means there is something wrong with the item.

The last dish to arrive were the hand shaved noodles with pork. These can be made with chicken, beef or veggie if you prefer. I first had hand shaved noodles in China--they are a taste memory for me. This version lived up to my memory.

Spice wise, of the dishes we ordered only the noodles and the greens should not, and were not, spicy. Everything else was a good amount of heat and definitely contained the delightful szechuan peppercorn. We didn't feel that things were "dumbed down" for us.

As you might imagine, we carried home a lot of leftovers which were greatly enjoyed the next morning as breakfast. The waitress very kindly offered to pack up some rice to go with our food but we declined--restaurant rice is unnecessary in a home that owns a neuro fuzzy rice cooker.

The one annoying thing is that Szechuan 99 is a bit of a drive for us but when I think about it, not that much longer than a drive from our old house to the San Gabriel valley and well worth the trip. Now if someone could just explain to me why the heck they are located in Lynnwood?????

Szechuan 99
6124 200th st SW
Lynwood, WA 98036
phone 425-774-9622

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  1. Well, living in Lynnwood myself, I think people here are entitled to good authentic Chinese food too. After having lived in Canada, Hong Kong, and then Northern California, I had despaired in finding Chinese food that's up to snuff. Fortunately, we have Szechuan 99 now, and I'm rejoicing that we don't have to drive all the way to Vancouver to get decent Chinese food.
    We went last week for the first time, and I agree, the hand shaved noodles are, to borrow a word from Will Ferrell, "scrumtrellescent". Tender-chewey, and just blazing with "wok-hei". We also had the Cumin lamb, and i had to say it was even better than China Village in Berkeley, CA. The soft tofu dishes are delicious, and if you have any rice-bins among your dining companions, these are the dishes to order.
    I can't wait to try all the authentic dishes they have on offer!

    14 Replies
    1. re: doramicat

      not meant as an offense to Lynnwood. Just as a completely selfish and lazy person, I think they need to be closer to me, not you! Why do you get delivery of Szechuan 99 and I get NADA?

      Still, I confess that I'm curious about the choice of Lynnwood---is there a large Chinese population there or??????

      1. re: jenn

        When Zen Garden first opened (they're next to Mill Creek Town Center, close enough to Lynnwood), I saw quite a large crowd of Chinese-speaking patrons. When I worked downtown and took the bus, there's always a lot of Chinese-speaking (and of course Korean-speaking) people getting on the bus. So they're definitely hiding somewhere around the Sno/King line.

        1. re: jenn

          It's true, Lynnwood seems to have a lot more Koreans and Vietnamese (and thus some awesome Korean and Vietnamese restaurants) but yeah, I think there are Chinese people hidden here and there amongst them. Maybe the Chef lives in Lynnwood/Edmonds? I can't wait to eat there again!
          Also, you're right, HungWeiLo, Zen Garden does have a lot of Chinese clientele, especially on weekends for dim sum. I know this thread is about Szechuan 99, but i have to say, i was pleasantly surprised with Zen Garden. I think their Dim Sum si-foo (master) is pretty good. the Haw-gao are well turned out with lots of shrimp and thin skins. Some of the rice rolls (cheung-fun) are not as good though, the fillings a tad too much corn starch, but then he takes some good chances on different fillings, like mixed mushrooms, or pea shoots with char-sui, so you're not stuck with the plain old stand bys. oh, and their chicken and salted fish fried rice is pretty good too. I took my dad there (who used to own a Dim Sum restaurant in Calgary) and he said it was good, and we went there several times when my parents were visiting.

          1. re: doramicat

            Hom Yue Fan - Salted Fish Fried Rice!
            I haven't had that in over 20 years and I don't see it on the menu too often, at least at the places I go to.

            Another restaurant to add to my to-try list. :-)

            1. re: dave_c

              Hom Yue chow fan, and also the chicken/tofu hotpot with Hom Yue is one of my favorites. (Guess I'm old-timey that way). I think they have Hom Yue Chow fan at Purple Dot Cafe in the ID. Not bad there. My complaint is that there's never enough Hom Yue though.

            2. re: doramicat

              I'll have to look at Zen Garden again. We felt that their quality has deteriorated so much (about 6 months ago when they had some business-side upheavals) that we have actually written them off. Maybe I'll convince my wife to try it again.

              Where's a good Vietnamese place around there? I've tried Pho Han on 220th and thought it was not too bad - but service was SLOW...

              1. re: HungWeiLo

                One of our favorite Pho places is Pho Da Kao: 617 128th St SW (Lynnwood). Close to the I-5 ramp and exits.

                1. re: doramicat

                  Tried it before, but didn't like it.

                  Fortunately, there are 2 Than Brothers within a 10-mile radius.

                  1. re: doramicat

                    Also on 128th St, across the street from the Everett Home Depot is a Vietnamese place called Pasteur. Tried it today and was pretty impressed. It's a good sign when they give fish sauce instead of peanut sauce for your goi cuon. I ordered a bun bo hue and was impressed by the quality. They were packed even at 2pm on a Super Bowl Sunday.

                    1. re: HungWeiLo

                      Another place to add to my list!
                      For fresh spring rolls, I also like the fish sauce mixture over the hoisin sauce with chopped peanuts. The fish sauce mixture seems lighter and more flavorful over the sweet goopiness of the latter.

                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                        We've tried Pasteur, and I'd take fish sauce over sweet goopy peanut sauce any day. We tried some of their other dishes, like a rice soup with seafood. It was delicious, but a tad heavy on the MSG for my taste.

                    2. re: HungWeiLo

                      Went to Zen Garden again last week, as well as Jade Garden for the first time this weekend. Zen Garden has definitely improved immensely since I last visited. They must have sorted out their management issues. Although I think Jade Garden has an edge over Zen Garden. Zen Garden's dimsum tasted just a bit on the bland side and a bit too "sanitized".

                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                        Note that the praise for their dimsum is just that - only for dimsum.

                        Seeing that the dimsum had improved, we were looking forward to trying dinner there. So we went tonight. While the food is acceptable (tolerable, not mindblowing, and definitely on the overpriced side - 3 non-seafood dishes for close to $50), the service was just not quite there. It was Saturday night, but we were told that there were problems in the kitchen which would require a lengthy wait on our part. Not a problem, since we weren't too hungry. When the first dishes finally came, we had to ask for our rice. We were a party of 3, and astonishingly they brought only one bowl of rice after a long time (yes, we spoke Chinese to the waitstaff). Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Were we supposed to share this single bowl of rice with all this food? It was quite some time later before they brought another 2 bowls of rice and pairs of chopsticks after repeated requests.

                        They've been advertising around the Asian grocery stores in the area, so you would think they'd be more in-tune to the expectations of the Asian dining crowd (especially in this price range). We had a good laugh that a seemingly upmarket Asian restaurant needs to have their Asian clientele ask them repeatedly for rice. I didn't see many Asians eating there on Saturday night, and I think this negligence in service (and the not-so-stellar food quality) is exactly why. It's really disappointing that their service and food quality varies so much throughout the year that it's difficult to go back to give them another chance. I think I'll stick with Szechwan 99 when I'm dining in the north end for consistently good food. Service level may sometimes be questionable there, but at least you can always expect good food there.

                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                          Zen Garden - We were there two weekends ago, and the dim-sum was alright, but the service was terrible. It took forever to flag down wait-staff to order extra fried rice and noodles, and then it did seem to take even longer for said dishes to arrive. For a Saturday afternoon, you'd think they'd have more staff available for dim-sum. That said, you never know if there's a no-show or something else going on.
                          I agree that the inconsistencies at Zen Garden are not worth the price and risk that you're not going to get a good meal. Szechuan 99 has been more consistent. We've been going there on Tuesday nights after working out at the gym (great way to get back all those calories) and it seemed that the food is not as good as it is on the weekends. Could they have a different chef at the beginning of the week?

                2. Glad you liked Szechuan 99. It's probably my/and my wife's favorite Chinese restaurant at this time. When chef Huang was at Szechuan Beanflower that was our fave.

                  A couple of my favorites are the Seafood Delight. Not a spicy dish. It's one of those mild dishes with a perfect sauce and seafood that is cooked just right. The squid in the dish is tender!

                  The Szechuan 99 Beef is amazingly good. It's kind of like the bean curd with sliced beef but served over a big bowl of napa cabbage instead of tofu.

                  Szechuan rice cakes are great too. I'm afraid if they were closer I'd have eat there once a week.

                  1. I would say again that this is also one of my most exciting CH discoveries of late.

                    1. did you see prawns with chili sauce on the menu or something similar?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ericlutzker

                        I suspect "Lover's Prawn" might be the ticket.

                      2. I usually associate Lynnwood more with Korean than Chinese food, but I am excited that Szechuan 99 has gotten this recent attention here. There are a handful of other ethnic restaurants on my list up there (e.g. the Cambodian bakery spot Kiriom (sp?)), and a few I spotted in Mill Creek as well.

                        HWL- I think you wrote a post comparing 99 to Bamboo Garden that has somehow dissappeared. I also like Bamboo Garden and was proud to have played a role in having its chinese menu reinstated with an English version through discussions on this board. Can you give more details on 99 on how its menu compares to BG?

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: equinoise

                          Along those same lines, does 99 have crab?

                          1. re: equinoise

                            Slightly o/t, but want to add my endorsement for Kirirom for Cambodian food in Lynnwood. Fresh and delicious! I spent a week in Cambodia in March and loved the food there -- everything from street fare to fine dining. Kirirom does a really good job and is also a good value.

                            Have been sadly underwhelmed by all the Chinese food I've tried in Seattle and environs in the nearly four years I've lived here. I make it a point to satisfy my itch for good Szechuan on visits to Vancouver and San Fran. Really excited to try Szechuan 99. Thanks for the tip!

                            1. re: ThreeGreenBeens

                              I've heard good things about this place too. It's on my list. If I talk my wife into it, we're backpacking overland from Bangkok to Angkor Wat in March or April (2 more months!). It'd be nice to be introduced to Cambodian cuisine before actually going there.

                              1. re: ThreeGreenBeens

                                Tried Kirirom last week. Very nice. Dabbled in a seafood noodle soup, some Chinese donuts, and a stew. Thanks for the rec!