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May 28, 2008 11:53 AM

Twice cooked pork - Sichaun Garden rules

When I was in China, I remember watching a tv show about a famous Sichaun chef who claimed that twice cooked pork is the dish by which one should judge a restaurant. He elaborated on the dish - it should be spicy but not excessive, crispy but moist, etc.

Lately I've been trying the dish whenever appropriate. I had it recently at Sichuan Garden, Qingdao, and Chili Garden. I have to say that Sichuan Garden is by far the most superior version, and that in general, the restaurant seems to put out the best food.

SG's version is the only one with the proper crisp on the fat - all other have been too mushy. SG's peppers also had good kick, whereas the Chili Garden version peppers were heatless albeit smoky.

I have to admit, I don't see the appeal of Qingdao - I had their twice cooked pork, dumplings and zhongqing chicken and all of it was sub-par to SG, Zoe's, Wang's, etc. Chili Garden seems like a more decent option, but not up to the Chowhound hype.

Anyone else have thoughts on where to find the best twice cooked pork?

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  1. Yes the double cooked Pork at SG is incredible, I get it for lunch alot of the time. I have not tried the Double Cooked Pork anywhere else in Boston, but have had it at quite a few of the Sichuan places in NYC and Toronto when I lived in each city and SG's version matches us very well.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Matt H

      Try it at Goumet Dumpling House, in Chinatown.

      1. re: wittlejosh

        The Double Cooked Pork at Fuloon in Malden was the best I have had.
        They use a great belly cut of pork that seems braised but then crisp on the edges. giving you the crispy / moist part of the equation. The heat is spot on hot, but not sorching peppers and a really great overall flavor

    2. are you referring to the Sichuan Garden in Brookline?

      If so, I'd love to hear about other favorite dishes from Chowhounders. Sichuan is my favorite of the Chinese 'varietals'. thanks!

      4 Replies
      1. re: lemiller610

        I had dinner there last week and for some reason the food was just terrible. The hot and sour soup was gloopy, scallion pancakes were as thick as a mattress, Dan Dan noodles were so overcooked, tangerine chicken was all dark chewy meat, the green beans and rice were good. I have had good meals there but I think that they have different cooks on different days because my experiences have been inconsistent.

        1. re: macadamianut

          Weird, right? Last lunch there we ordered exactly the same favorites as ever, and the meal was just meh. Gloopy, heavy, not particularly flavorful. Made me sad since it used to be one of my favorites in town.

          That being said, my favorites include:
          wenjun prawns
          beef with napa cabbage
          mini juicy steamed buns
          braised pork foot

          1. re: macadamianut

            SG is very inconsistent overall, sometimes they are spot on and other times way off.

            The Double cooked pork though has always been nothing but delicious and the one dish they have never gone wrong on in my personal visits.

            1. re: Matt H

              Based on this thread, Barmy and I ate at Sichuan Garden last night, and enjoyed quite a good meal. We had the twice cooked pork (actually called "double cooked bacon with spicy capsicum" on the menu), mapo tofu, and minced pork with long beans, a dish we both remeber fondly from The Meal That Saved Our Marriage in San Francisco. The waiter warned us, "That's very sour; you might not like it," but we reassured him that we believed we would, and we did. (BTW, while the long beans, minced nearly as fine as the pork, are pickled, which renders them a truly unattractive dark olive green, they were piquant rather than "very sour.") The mapo tofu contrasted tender, pleasingly bland cubes of tofu with its spicy sauce, and the double cooked bacon - well, how can you complain about stir-fried bacon with spicy capsicum? I was a bit surprised not to find the white cabbage that I'm used to in Americanized versions of this dish - the only vegetable in it besides plentiful slivers of spicy but not blindingly hot green pepper (longhorns?) was a few slivers of celery. Super-tasty, though.

              Overall I think the spicing might have been toned down a bit for us but all of our dishes were plenty spicy; the rice was also very good. Service, however, was confused - I swear we were helped at one point or another by every staff member in the restaurant except the kitchen workers - and the lights failed in our half of the restaurant near the end of the meal, after which we had a terrible time getting anyone's attention to pack up our leftovers and bring us the check. Between the long wait for our check and a ridiculous wait for the 66 bus, it took us nearly 90 minutes to get home after we finished eating, which took a bit of the glow off the evening for me. (I was carrying a VERY heavy bag and my shoulder was killing me, or I'd have proposed walking.) However, it's great to know that there's such good Sechuan food so close to home.

        2. Qingdao is not even vaguely close to Sichuan Province (one is on the Pacific/Yellow Sea coast, the other is buried deep in the mainland, cheek by jowl with the Tibetan plateau). The fact that Qingdao Garden does some passable Sichuan style cookery speaks to the versatility of the chef, but going there seeking good Sichuan eats does not play to the place's strengths, which are more along the lines of northern Chinese cookery (good luck finding another restaurant that offers serious strengths in northern cookery, apart from FuLoon perhaps). Their Peking ravioli, however, leaves, Zoe's and SG in the dust (many adore Wang's, I avoid it on the strength of colossal inconvenience of access and a near-comically awful meal that I had there once; I'd rate MuLan as the only serious competition).

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dr.Jimbob

            I very much agree with Dr. Jimbob, except that Wang's, in addition to Fuloon, are the only serious contenders to Qingdao for Northern Style food. I very much like Qingdao, but I'd also rate it third compared to Wang's and Fuloon for Northern Style food. Fuloon's menu ranges strong and deep in Lu, Yue, and Chuan styles, but I think both Wang's and Qingdao have some terrific, specific Sichuan offerings. I'm sorry you had a bad meal at Wang's --- but I can only suggest that you return some day.