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Sichuan Palace - Chelmsford

This is the new Sichuan place that opened up earlier this year in the strip mall on Summer Street. The food and service were excellent, especially for a very crowded Saturday night. In fact, we had to sit at the bar or wait, so we decided to sit at the bar - which worked out just fine. The line was out the door by the time we left.

We ate apps of spicy shredded tripe and pan-fried dumplings. Both were excellent. The tripe was tender, flavorful and sichuan peppercorn spicy (but not too spicy). The dumplings were not pre-made/frozen. I ate the noodle soup with shredded pork and pickled vegetables. The noodles could have been home made, there were uneven pieces and they tasted fresh. But the best part was the broth, which was very flavorful, with a nice round mouthfeel - outstanding umami, with a chicken base and pork, some oil on top. I hope this isn't another case of a Chinese restaurant opening with the first-run chicken soup, planning to downgrade later when the clientele is well established, which I believe was the case with Sichuan Gourmet (I was told that this is SOP for Chinese restaurants).

My sons ate the Sauteed beef with cumin, and a spicy beef and tofu dish. Both were... spicy. And good.

They share some dishes with the Sichuan Gourmet and Sichuan Garden. But there are a lot of different dishes here, or it seems that way, perhaps because they aren't afraid of publishing the offal dishes on the English menu.

Over all, a very good first impression. With a menu full of items like Boiled Pork Blood, Intestines, Fish Filet and Tripe (all one dish with 3 peppers), what's not to like? Don't worry - they also have General Tso's...

Their site:
http://www.sichuanpalace.net/

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Sichuan Palace
7 Summer Street, Chelmsford, MA 01824

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  1. I was there for the first time today, for takeout. Coming from a background where I never had anything with chili pepper till I was out of college, I have a low spice threshhold - so although the Yu Shiang Eggplant and Sauteed Pork with Sweet Bean Sauce were 1-pepper dishes, I asked that they be a little less spicy than that. Having been unable to eat the 1-pepper level dishes from Sichuan Gourmet, once I saw that the menu had similar authentic dishes, I erred on the side of caution. Good thing - I would not have wanted either dish to be hotter. I noticed that garlic greens were used with the pork, rather than the more commonly-available scallions, which spoke well for authenticity. But this was a rathery salt dish, without any sweetness compared to the eggplant; I've had the latter from many different places, none of which were noticeably sweet. I liked it but don't know if this version is unusual. Both came in typical 6x9" plastic containers, which were filled a bit skimpily. With brown rice on hand at home, I did not order anything else. In fairness to them, I'm happier with Americanized Chinese than authentic, so I wouldn't go out of my way to return soon anyway. Fans of the real deal could have a totally different assessment.

    1. I went a few weeks ago for the 1st time. Got the dried fried chicken sith chili peppers, the wontons in spicy oil and the fish fillets with tofu in Sichuan sauce. Also scallion pancakes, rice and a bowl of hot&sour soup.

      The wontons we liked better at sichuan gourmet, we found these ones were sort of in a watery sauce. The dried chicken was decent, lots of dried peppers with it. The tofu/fish dish had an odd flavor but was ok. Hot and sour soup was very good. Will give it another try for the menu variety but so far we like our standby of S.G. better.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hargau

        Went again this weekend. We started with the homemade dumplings in spicy oil- sauce was watery and not spicy to out tastes, dumplings a bit too doughy. Then a beef noodle soup- This had a good flavor and a rich broth. Very fatty beef but i think thats perhaps authentic? Then a dried beef with veggie dish- This dish was a spicy dish with thin bamboo shoots, asparagus and other veggies with thin pieces of dried beef, beef jerky consistancy. A bit tough to chew but a flavorfull and interesting dish. Then water boiled pork. The pork was coated with some sort of flour or something then boiled, served with a cabbage underneath and a very spicy sauce. Very large portion. Also some scallion pancakes- these were a bit underdone. Overall a great meal.

        1. re: hargau

          I went for lunch the other day. I kinda liked the dumplings in spicy broth, almost a soup, with hot oil.
          I spoke briefly with the owner, she used to be a partner in Red Pepper in Framingham (search the board), and took her three chefs from there, one is a partner I gather.
          While they face tough competition from nearby Sichuan Gourmet, I think it's worth a try, and hope they succeed. It's also nice that there's a Chinese Grocery in the same strip mall with the restaurant.

        1. re: KWagle

          Turns out its all new staff. Management, waitresses, cooks, everyone. Menu is slightly different but mostly the same. Preperation is different though. Less spicy. No sichuan pepper corns. Less use of hot oil. More generic chinese than sichuan i think now.

          1. re: hargau

            A new website seems to have appeared.

            http://www.chuanbawangrestaurant.com/...

            And what seems like a new menu offering Sichuan and Taiwanese food.

            1. re: KWagle

              We have basically given up on the place. While the menu sounds promising the execution is not.

              1. re: hargau

                Have you tried it recently?? I'm pretty sure there is pretty recent (months) chef change. I met a couple friends their a couple of weeks ago and they thought it was of sichuan gourmet, top garden (when it was good) quality, but not much numbing sensation. I really enjoyed the house made tea smoked duck.

                1. re: lc02139

                  Yes i tried it about a month ago. I didnt find it of that quality at all. I didnt try the duck but what i did try i was not impressed with. We both were very disappointed.

                  1. re: hargau

                    I stopped by on the way to Gene's; I talked to someone at the counter who said they were a new restaurant as of a few months ago (their Web site says Dec 9th) and the menu is clearly different from the menu I saw there two years ago. and picked up a menu. The menu at least is serious (as Steve would say) and there are a couple of things I'm interested in trying, particularly the house special twice cooked pork with crispy rice cakes.

                    1. re: KWagle

                      funny you should mention that.. That was one of the dishes we tried. We expected the "crispy rice cakes" to be the white disc rice cakes you typically get in "rice cake" dishes.. When we got it the "rice cakes" were more like bits of those flat "noodles" they sometimes give you in a bowl at places when you sit down.. Hard to describe really. like small chips. Not at all what we expected. I even thought it was the wrong dish and had to ask. The pork was kinda like raw fatty bacon. Most of the dish got thrown out. Maybe we got a bad batch, id love to hear your experience!

                      We found the seasoning on all the "sichuan" dishes to simply be red oil on everything. Very oily and no complexity like you would find at Sichuan Gourmet or Garden, etc.. Just oil straight up out of a bottle. Another dish we got was the "bawang dry hot chicken" this was like popcorn chicken from kfc (minus the 11 herbs and spices) with that same oil poured over it.. No seasoning otherwise and just a greasy mess. Not dry at all and not at all like what you would get at other places.

                      1. re: hargau

                        I was actually expecting the flat cakes until I re-read the menu. And the chicken was something else I noticed and while I might enjoy it, it certainly doesn't sound like "dry hot chicken." Thanks for the warnings. Now I can just go straight to Gene's (which I highly recommend you try if you haven't been there already.)

                        1. re: KWagle

                          I was expecting rice cakes like this http://userealbutter.com/recipe_photo...
                          They were not, they were more like tortilla chip pcs.

                          I have not tried Gene's yet. Its on my list!

                          1. re: hargau

                            Wait, you were expecting the thick chewy noodle? (The picture doesn't come up.) I was assuming you meant the discs of puffed rice. I expected puffed rice from reading the menu (I've never heard of chewy rice cake used in TCP) but as you know from your visits to Top Garden, flat crispy things are sometimes included in TCP, and that's what I actually like best. Sichuan Pavilion in Rockville (MD) does an outstanding version of this dish; the flat crispy things absorb the pork grease that makes good TCP so delicious and that you would otherwise have to eat with a spoon. It's SO good that I avoid the place for fear of becoming addicted and running my bank account dry.

                            1. re: KWagle

                              Yea i was expecting the chewy noodle rice cakes. I had never had the thin crisp things before.

                              1. re: hargau

                                I don't know what those flat things are made from, but they sure are an amazing addition to TCP and probably to any oily Chinese dish. I wonder if you can buy them in bags at the market.

                                1. re: KWagle

                                  give Sichuan Palace a try then and let me know what you think. Maybe you will like it!

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    No, I think I'll take your warning to heart! Thanks. :-/

        2. I've eaten there a few times, since it is in town. The cumin lamb/beef is still pretty good, the beef and tendon and Sichuan dried beef appetizers are very good, and the dan dan mein is better than it used to be. The Sichuan green beans are incredible. The braised fish filets and the "sizzling" dishes are pretty good, too, although I do agree that there is precious little "ma" here to complement the "la".

          8 Replies
          1. re: Dinsdale45

            Have you been there recently? The change of ownership is only a few months old, I think.

            1. re: KWagle

              Well, I went maybe a week ago because I heard it was the chef from Top Garden and that was the best Sichuan I've had around here. I ordered a few of the same dishes, mostly apps, and they came out looking the same, but didn't quite reach the summit as before at Top Garden. The server told me the chef lived much closer to Sichuan Palace than Top Garden, so he switched.

              I'm kind of on the fence, but would probably try it again. I think it is the same chef, but I never met him, so I can't verify it for certain.

              One thing is the menu is really hard to grok-- if you are used to bad transliterations as some of us are, or even whipping out iPads like KWagle. All the dishes, even the authentic ones, have super generic names with no clue as to what it really is. Plus the menu isn't really clearly divided into real Chinese and American-Chinese. It's quite a long jumble of stuff.

              1. re: tatsu

                Having been there for lunch a number of times I'm a bit disappointed. Hot and Sour soup is bland and the dishes just OK. I stated elsewhere that the chef is the good one from Top Garden but after speaking to the owner again, this chef left Top Garden towards the end of last year so he's not the one that built up Top gardens reputation.

                http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....

                 
                1. re: Ferrari328

                  Ah that makes a lot of sense. We'll find that guy! They can't get away from us, :)

                    1. re: Dave MP

                      Lunch Special Fried Duck Sichuan Style, handwritten on the wall just outside the dining room. Read all about it in my annoying link ;-)

                2. re: KWagle

                  I've been there 5-6 times in 2012.

                  1. re: Dinsdale45

                    I agree with your take on the duck, Ferrari, though as a lunch special for 8 plus bucks, a nice serving of duck, and pretty good flavor. Had the Ma Po Tofu lunch special again today. Good spice, nice texture to the tofu which didn't break up when picked up with chopsticks. Gotta say it's a pretty good version. I much prefer Sichuan Gourmet for everything else, but I almost never get Ma Po tofu there anymore, and the SP version may be my regular lunch in the area, when I don't want garlic breath all afternoon from Gene's noodles.

              2. Wanted some duck today so I went to Sichuan Palace in Chelmsford for their $8.50 duck lunch special. Not such a good idea. Hot and Sour Soup was so thick that it could be eaten with a fork. Duck was very salty and the part under the lemon was fried to a crisp and the skin was very fuzzy as can be seen in the picture. Rice was way overcooked and mushy. You now get soup and appetizer with lunch and the chicken wing was OK with a nice crisp coating. When I left the sign was taken down for the duck lunch special.

                http://thedailylunch-woburn.blogspot....