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Grand Sichuan House, Faith is Restored !

s
Sated Dec 25, 2008 03:59 PM

Christmas Day in Bay Ridge !

I dislike the addage that a Jewish Christmas is identified as a day of Chinese food and a movie, though by fluke, that was our day.

Bolt, a sadly obvious and stereotype reinforced, tale of a lost television star dog was course one. Thank G-D for my blackberry ( ive never said that before )and a few trips with my kids to the bathroom, or I would have lost my mind. Though towards the end of the film, I was focused on my coming trip to Grand Sichuan and was able to ignore the Hollywood self congratulation that was the smirk and pointless Bolt.

The trip by car form Park Slope to Bay Ridge is an easy 20 minute drive, and in the heart of Bay Ridge emerges Grand Sichuan House ( 5th Avenue and 87th Street), a small, plain storefront with seating for 40, and basic decor.

My wife and I began with steamed pork soup dumplings and Hot Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles. The dumplings were a perfect ten, soft and flavorful pork was held by a delicious and textured dumpling casing. The bites were moist and sweet and well flavored. 8 to an order, over a light bed of cabbage, pure heaven. The noodles were bathed in a delicious hot and rich sauce; spaghetti noodles were rightly soft and not overdone and they together held the sauce just right. The tastes are unique and rightly spiced. Chili oil and cumin were the dominant new flavors.

My kids enjoyed greaseless lo mien and spring rolls. The vegetables were crunchy and flavored, with delicious chicken pieces highlighting each bite. The spring roles were average and well fried, crunchy and vegetarian.

Bring on the dancers.

We then continued with two total gems, shredded duck with spring ginger and pea shoots with garlic. The duck was brilliant and the antithesis of the hanging fat laden duck that I still crave and always find unsatisfying from a Mott Street window. This duck was well cooked and skinless, rich pieces combined with brightly julienned vegetables in a rich and defined ginger garlic sauce that was light and aromatic. The duck was tender and was accented by duck skin that had been separately fried and combined in the dish as a light crackling. We combined the duck with the pea shoots which were bright and perfectly steamed. Abundant large garlic slices were the right accent to this crunchy side. More textured and less heavy than spinach, the shoots were crunchy and fresh. The perfect complement.

As my kids loved the duck, we needed one more dish to keep the pea shoots company and chose the spicy beef, which was similarly served with sliced veggies in a rich and alarming brown sauce. The beef like the duck was tender and perfectly cooked. The meat is spicy, and did well by a rice or veggie backdrop. It was my kind of hot, and likely a bit too much fire for my wife who kept singing about the duck as I continue into round three of pea shoots and duck and beef.

My family moved to Brooklyn in 04' from the Upper West Side, and in that time, I have had ZERO edible Chinese meals, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, P. Slope have no options beyond grease laden, gloopy egg rolls and General Tsos. This lone trip restored my belief in the world's most populous country's export of choice in my eyes.
It has been trendy and fair to proclaim Chinese food dead in New York, I now beg to differ. Run to Grand Sichuan House.

  1. prunefeet Dec 26, 2008 12:13 PM

    Glad you found it and enjoyed it so much. Try the shredded duck with string beans...really good.

    1. Bob Martinez Dec 26, 2008 12:40 PM

      Since you enjoyed your meal you'll probably also enjoy this long thread -
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/461890

      2 Replies
      1. re: Bob Martinez
        prunefeet Dec 26, 2008 01:33 PM

        Bob, aren't you the one who turned me on to the duck and string bean dish? I should be giving you credit.. It was either you or Peter Cherches, I think...

        1. re: prunefeet
          Bob Martinez Dec 27, 2008 07:07 AM

          I'm the one. There's 2 duck dishes but I think the one with string beans is the best.

      2. missmasala Dec 26, 2008 05:43 PM

        yes, as a carroll gardens resident, we find ourselves going up to grand sichuan to get a chinese fix. Last week had the best meal ever from them. haven't tried the duck with string beans yet, but am addicted to the mapo dofu there. also, the people running the place are v. nice, and it's super kid-friendly. my kids love the dan dan noodles (tho as of today my son likes the version at the roosevelt food court better--spicier) and the wontons in spicy oil. we also always order the pea shoots and a chicken dish that has chicken, potatoes, and scallions but that i can never remember the name of. I keep wanting to try new things but can never get past my usual dishes because i like them so much. will have to go with more people.
        If a place like this would open in the carroll gardens park slope area, i would be in heaven.

        3 Replies
        1. re: missmasala
          h
          hhhippo Dec 27, 2008 12:25 AM

          I think the chicken dish you mean is the Guizhou Spicy Chicken (as opposed to the Chongqing Spicy Chicken). The Guizhou dish is the one with scallions and potatoes. Really delicious.

          1. re: missmasala
            Polecat Dec 27, 2008 05:50 AM

            Miss M,
            Unless they've tried it already, your little ones might dig the dessert that mine did. Not sure of the name, but they're little round balls, something like mochi, served up hot in a bowl of (not overly) sweet sauce, which tasted something like japanese anko jelly. Heck, I liked the stuff too. The waitstaff suggested it to us to begin with, so, if you ask about it, they're likely to do the rest. I too really liked my lone visit to GSH, and am looking to return asap.
            P.

            1. re: Polecat
              r
              ropa vieja Dec 28, 2008 06:19 PM

              I recently drove by what appears to be Brooklyn's other authentic Sichuan place, called Bamboo Pavillion, on 18th ave and about 70th street. Has anyone been here? The menu definitely looks like the real deal.

          2. b
            bklynfoodiefamily Jan 10, 2009 04:27 PM

            Went with high hopes and expectations having been at Joe's Shanghai the weekend before. Sadly, the dumplings were virtually soupless. The Shredded Beef with Hot Green Pepper just "good". Brooklyn Chinese Food is a sad state of affairs. Is there any hope? We're getting desparate and would prefer to stay in borough.

            6 Replies
            1. re: bklynfoodiefamily
              prunefeet Jan 11, 2009 02:27 PM

              As other have said, soup dumplings are a shanghai specialty, best ordered at a Shanghai restaurant. However, if the shredded beef in hot green pepper was not that great maybe it was an off night. So far each time I have been there everything has been very good and very fresh. Don't give up on it yet. Maybe next time try more sichuan choices and see if you still don't like it. I hope you do!

              1. re: bklynfoodiefamily
                Bob Martinez Jan 12, 2009 08:08 AM

                Soup dumplings aren't a Szechuan specialty so it might not be fair to judge a restaurant on a dish that isn't part of their core cuisine. It works the other way too - if I went to Joes's Shanghai I wouldn't order the Chongquing chicken.

                Grand Sichuan House has been open for over a year and if anything I think they're getting even better. We were there last Friday night and saw they've added a number of new dishes to the menu. I had the stir fried chicken with spicy capiscum (S-18 on the menu) and thought it was one of the best things I've ever had it a Szechuan restaurant. (Wu Liang Ye has a similar dish but this is *much* better.) The initial presentation is like their Chonquing chicken - it's served with a heaping pile of red peppers but that's where the resemblance ends. The chicken is cut into larger pieces but they're still bite size. There are also ribbons of green pepper which add just a touch of sweetness. This dish is wonderfully balanced; the flavors play off each other. The chili peppers bring their heat and they use black pepper as well. The outside of the chicken is slightly dry while the inside remains moist. This dish doesn't use Szechuan pepper corns so you don't get that characteristic buzz on the tongue but it's perfect all on it's own. This is an outstanding dish.

                The rest of our meal - dan dan noodles (for our Szechuan peppercorn fix,) Chengdu dumplings (better than ever), dried string beans with minced pork (delicious but a little saltier than I'd like,) and the cumin beef dish that people have raved about since GSH opened.

                During the meal we had mentioned to the server how much we were enjoying the meal and at the end of the evening the chef/owner came out to say hello. He was genuinely happy with our reactions.

                Over the last year GSH has been written up in multiple newspapers. It's nice to see that instead of resting on their laurels they're getting even better.

                1. re: Bob Martinez
                  missmasala Jan 12, 2009 11:20 AM

                  i agree that they are even better than they were. our last meal there was outstanding. will try to hit it up again this week, as i am craving their mapo dofu.

                  1. re: missmasala
                    Bob Martinez Jan 12, 2009 12:15 PM

                    Check the menu for the handwritten entries. They've added dishes. The chicken with spicy capiscum that I had on Friday was a new entree - an absolute winner. I'll bet there's more gems waiting to be discovered.

                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                      missmasala Jan 18, 2009 07:06 PM

                      Went last night and managed to try 2 new dishes. (new for us) saw the new handwritten dishes, but was too curious about the duck with stringbeans and the cumin beef, so we ordered those.

                      all i can say is, thanks Bob M and Prunefeet!

                      The duck was amazing--it tastes smoked--do they use tea-smoked duck for this dish? Also, whoever mans the wok gives the whole dish a nice sear. It was just delicious.

                      The cumin beef was also outstanding, but in a different way. I've had the cumin lamb from the sichuan place on st. marks, but this was much better. For me, it was almost like crack--at first slightly offputting, but then somehow totally and completely addictive. It also had the distinction of finally being hot hot hot--i was coughing after my first bite. In the past, i didn't think sichuan was as hot as, say, thai or korean food, even the water-cooked dishes, but this dish has a heat on the back end that gets you in the throat. crazy but somehow delectable.
                      anyway, thanks for the tips--esp for the duck as it wasn't on the menu i got and i would never have thought to order it. this is what i love about chowhound--always getting the important details not just on the place, but also on what to order.
                      I have to say, i love this restaurant. they are so friendly and i think the food is better than ever. If my SO and i haven't been in a week, we find ourselves jonesing for it.

                      1. re: missmasala
                        Bob Martinez Jan 19, 2009 05:34 AM

                        Yes, that duck dish is really outstanding. I'm glad you tried it. The first time I went to GSH a fried ordered it and we couldn't get over how great it was. On a subsequent visit I figured I'd branch out so I ordered the Shredded Duck w. Spring Ginger. It sounded like something I'd like even more than the first dish. While it's very good I've decided that the duck with green beans is the winner.

                        My girlfriend is absolutely addicted to the cumin beef dish. She orders it every time we go. I've tried to get her to order other things but she says she'll only do that if we start going more frequently. I think I'm going to take her up on that.

              2. b
                bruklinboy Jan 21, 2009 03:24 AM

                yes grand sichuan is excellent
                there are many restaurants in bay ridge worth the "easy 20 min drive" ( I love new comers to NY/Brooklyn that make it sound like they went on a trek to go anywhere in the 5 boros)
                Sorry for the snark, couldnt help myself
                Like I said Grand Sichuan is excellent, and I have to admit, didnt even know about it til I read about it here last year
                There are many excellent food choices here in Bay Ridge, you should come down here to visit us natives more often and try them out

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