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Feb 24, 2009 06:49 AM

Sichuan in Chinatown?

My parents are going to be in town, and I want to take them for some good Sichuan food. My first thought is Szechuan Gourmet, but if possible, I'd like to take them somewhere in Chinatown if for no other reason than that Chinatown itself is a whole experience. Any suggestions?

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  1. I'd stick with Szechuan Gourmet and steer clear of the Sichuan place on Canal, near the Mahayana Temple.

    4 Replies
    1. re: scoopG

      agreed grand sichuan in chinatown is pretty bad

      have not tried famous sichuan yet

      1. re: Lau

        i enjoyed grand szechuan by manhattan bridge. Only had the hot pots , the very spicy and the not spicy , had several meats, fish and vegetables, including dumplings. everything was good. the spicy was very spicy. I was with about 12 people so we got to taste it all. The broth wasnt bad, and i think a vegetable anywhere else isnt going to be better. the meat was ok. and the seafood was fresh. Maybe hot pots are the wrong thing to judge a place by.

        1. re: foodwhisperer

          well that place somewhat specializes in hot pot, their broth is ok, but their ingredients are pretty subpar even for hot pot places which usually dont give you the highest quality ingredients

          their food is not good

          1. re: foodwhisperer

            I thought that their hotpot was wayyy overpriced. Easily 2x the price of others, such as Quickly, and charging for dipping sauces is just taking the mickey. Definitely not worth a visit.

      2. I was underwhelmed after one takeout appetizer from Famous Sichuan, which opened last summer on Pell Street. Since this rave, I've been tempted to go back ...

        Here's another mention, where someone says the place is run by alumni of Spicy & Tasty in Flushing ...

        Famous Sichuan
        10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

        1. What about Grand Sichuan on St. Mark's? I haven't been to the other locations so I can't compare, but I found the food there delicious... and St. Mark's itself can be an experience too.

          21 Replies
          1. re: baobao

            i like GS on St Marks, but their dishes can vary pretty heavily on quality, some are quite good while others are bad

            i particularly like the wontons in red oil, dan dan noodles and their cumin beef...there is also this hunan preserved beef with pickled vegetables i like

            1. re: Lau

              I know their menu really well, since it's my standby takeout and delivery place. Which Sichuan and Hunan dishes do you find bad? I find some of them very oily and therefore rough on my stomach, but I can't remember anything that I found actually bad.

              1. re: Pan

                well their menu has changed quite a bit over time, but when ive ventured outside stuff that i know is good or that the waiter (who i know pretty well since he used to work at the hell's kitchen branch and i used to go there alot) has recommended then ive had mixed results...ive ordered too many dishes to remember exactly what they were

                i also i should clarify that rather than bad, i'd substitute with "pretty mediocre" with the one exception being hong shao niu rou which was horrible (although its not really a sichuan dish, so ill give them a pass)

                also i like this place, i think its the best GS, so its not like i dont like it

                1. re: Lau

                  Lau, my Mandarin is pretty rudimentary, but I know "niu rou" is beef and "hong" is red, so I'm gathering you're talking about "Red Cooking Beef." I agree here. I've been underwhelmed with their "red cooking" dishes and don't order them. I didn't find them horrible, but I'm not sure I've had any really great red cooking dishes anywhere else.

                  The menu certainly has changed a lot, and I miss some of the discontinued dishes, like the steamed turnip with cut spicy pepper; sliced sweet potato sauteed with ginger and scallion; and sweet and sour cold lotus root dish, which was made with goji berries (the red berries whose Chinese name slips my mind).

                  My favorite standby dish is the Fish with Sour Cabbage in a Little Hot Wok, but I often order Gung Bao Chicken, because they include a good bit of vegetables in it, so it becomes a balanced meal by itself, and the dish is inexpensive (the fish is pricey). I think the Gung Bao Chicken may have deteriorated somewhat; I still consider it good, but it strikes me that the texture of the chicken and general taste of the dish used to be more consistently tasty. Another dish I like to order, when I get a separate vegetable dish, is the Sweet and Sour Lotus Root.

                  The bottom line is that I'm still really happy to have the place in my neighborhood. The East Village was close to a wasteland for Chinese food until Grand Sichuan came to the neighborhood. Though I'm also within the delivery area of Congee Village, I don't think they always delivered (or at least I didn't know they did for x-number of years).

                  1. re: Pan

                    oh dont get me wrong, i think the place is great for the EV and im glad its there (i wouldnt be eating there semi regularly if i didnt like it), i just think it can be streaky depending on what dish you order. The only place in the city that i think is better is szechuan gourmet, which i think is the king of sichuan in manhattan.

                    the fish with sour cabbage in a little hot wok is pretty decent although the version at the defunct hell's kitchen was light years better (i used to very consistently order it there). I havent tried the kung pao chicken there although none of their chicken dishes are up to the "freshly killed chicken" at the defunct hell's kitchen branch although they're not bad by any means.

                    i'm not sure if its the red cooked dishes in english, but you right that is the rough translation

                    i live pretty close to congee village, but the last few meals i had there were disappointing so i haven't been back recently

                    1. re: Lau

                      GS St. Marks was my 1+ times per week delivery place too, when i lived on 4th Ave...since i got back to NYC from Asia a few months ago and live in a different part of town, i've been back there a couple times and also to GS Chelsea a couple times...while both were at least very good, the Chelsea branch was definitely better (and is one of my fav restaurants in Manhattan)

                      the last time i went to GS Chelsea, i ordered the Gui Zhou/Ah Zhou spicy chicken and specified, as i always do, "real Sichuan style, very spicy, no sugar"...the waitress told me that at GS Chelsea they never add sugar and i didn't need to worry...not so at GS St.Marks: while they'll always cook things as requested, their standard Gui Zhou spicy chicken caters a bit to Western palates...

                      Argh, now i am craving ma-la-something!

                      1. re: Simon

                        you know i had that problem with the chelsea one when ive been there (i dont really go there very often now) although the waiter knows me at GS st marks so i never have any issues when i go there

                        u should really go to xiao la jiao in flushing (or spicy & tasty), but XLJ is the most authentic place ive been to ny

                        1. re: Lau

                          maybe the GS Chelsea waitress was just trying to show Sichuan street-cred when she said they didn't use sugar at all...heh...

                          i went to Spicy and Tasty once about a year and a half ago and loved it...but it's hard for me to get to Flushing, since if i'm on the 7-train, the temptation to get off in Woodside for Thai food is usually too great to resist...

                          1. re: Simon

                            kill the 7 train and just take the LIRR, i would rarely go out to flushing if i had to take the 7...LIRR gets you there in 15 mins, very quick and easy plus you know when the train is coming

                        2. re: Simon

                          My experience is like yours, Simon: The Chelsea branch is better than the St Marks branch. And like Lau, I find Szechuan Gourmet the best Sichuan restaurant in Manhattan by a considerable margin and also agree that the ~50th St. branch of Grand Sichuan was the best branch.

                        3. re: Lau

                          i seem to get better food at Allen st congee village than the one on bowery. Most of the food is so so ,,, but the singapore mai fun is pretty good, and some of the congee is good, perhaps a little thicker than i like.

                          1. re: foodwhisperer

                            there are much better congee places than congee village...try new wing huang on lafayette, any of the big wong's, ny noodletown...they all have much better congee. congee village doesn't even serve you tiao, blasphemy

                            if you're going for more family style food i'd recommend amazing 66 or cantoon garden any day over congee village

                            not trashing the place b/c they do have some decent dishes, but there are better restaurants

                            1. re: Lau

                              i like the congee at XO Kitchen (Hester St branch) too...esp the dried scallop and ginkgo nut version, and the preserved egg one...

                              1. re: Lau

                                I've had some great meals at Congee Village, but I did have an odd experience within the past couple of months with Five Spice Duck that tasted strongly of cod liver oil, and based on the one meal I've had so far at Cantoon Garden, it definitely seems better than Congee Village so far. On the other hand, I wasn't very impressed with two meals at Amazing 66 and gave up on them.

                                1. re: Pan

                                  cantoon garden is far superior

                                  amazing 66 suffers from the age old problem of having a menu that has way too many things on it. not everything i've had at amazing 66 is good, for example i thought the butterfish that people raved about is nothing special at all. the thing they do well at amazing 66 is casseroles, the reason is that people don't seem to be able to get these right they are usually either too gloppy, too salty or use crap ingredients. Personally, my favorite cantonese food is none of these, the sauce should be light, not overly starched, not too salty and should rely on fresh ingredients. I had a fried tofu with seafood in a clay pot casserole that is excellent. Hence this is also why Imperial Palace is my favorite restaurant in NY. And Amazing 66 does a good job on these casseroles. The other thing is that they do a good whole chicken, which is another cantonese dish i love.

                                  1. re: Lau

                                    Thanks for your clarification. Their casseroles are more expensive than Cantoon Garden's, generally, aren't they?

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      yes they are more expense, but alot of their casseroles are also huge...cantoon garden's are large, but not the same size as amazing 66. For example, the pork belly one was enough for 3 people (its quite good btw if u like fatty pork like i do)

                                      they are also different types of restaurants. Cantoon Garden is a cantonese seafood restaurant end of the day although their food generally is good. Amazing 66 is more of a general cantonese restaurant

                                    2. re: Lau


                                      I agree with you on Amazing 66. It's above average in Manhattan Chinatown but the food is not what I called "amazing". I am also not particularly impressed by the butterfish. Even the chicken with preserved vegetables was too dry IMO (flavorwise it was ok) But then I have had much worse Cantonese food in Chinatown, so if I have to recommend a place, it will make the list.

                                      In fact, I found the casserole at Oriental Garden to be pretty good, but I hate their dinner service and their dim sum at lunch sucks too.

                                      As for congee, both Congee Village and XO present the more contemporary style of congee - one type of rice, higher water to rice ratio, lots of choices for ingredients and a lot of MSG. They also only use one type of congee "base" for all types of congee. At more tradtional places like Big Wong, they will mix different types of rice for congee to enhance the "rice" flavor, and they use different congee base (e.g. plain congee is not the same as the congee base used for congee with seafood/meat). For dim sum I like contemporary type like Dim Sum Go Go, but for congee I go with the traditional.

                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                        i like the congee at XO, in fact i like XO as a restaurant if you know what you're ordering (zha mantou w/ condensed milk, cheese pork chop rice casserole, congee, zha liang...very HK type food), but maybe its just been the few times ive tried to order it, but i've never thought the congee at either congee village or bowery congee is very good...could just be my taste though.

                                        That said i always hit new wing huang when i really want congee, i guess im a traditionalist at heart plus thats what i grew up eating. I cant get away from a good bowl with pork, pidan and a you tiao

                                        ive been meaning to go back to oriental garden b/c some people rave about dinner. I agree i think they have some of the worst dim sum in manhattan....i literally walked out of there last time without eating most of the food and went to DSGG b/c it was so bad.

                                        kobetobiko - btw sounds like we have similar tastes, u should hit canton gourmet in flushing if you haven't....their garlic chicken and garlic crab are excellent...its also generally quite good (its the other cantonese restaurant in flushing that i like quite a bit besides IP)

                                        1. re: Lau

                                          Funny, just had congee at XO a couple weeks back and thought it was so much better than Congee Bowery... they got my order wrong but I could care less. What were those little nuts/legumes they sprinkle on top?

                                        2. re: kobetobiko

                                          wow, the roast chicken w/ preserved veggies has never been dry when i've ordered it...if anything, it's been *slightly* undercooked/wet a couple times...but personally, i'm still on a high over Amazing 66 since discovering it (via here) a couple months ago...the chicken w/ preserved veggies and the oyster casserole are my standbys...

                                          but i'm organizing a group dinner for there next week so i'll get to try a bit more of the menu and weigh in on it more extensively then...

                    2. I was at F.S. yesterday on Pell and won't go back. Had the Chengdu pork and an eggplant dish and told them to crank the heat to no avail. Nice interior but the place was empty... no wonder.

                      1. Grand Sichuan is awful. Way overpriced and food is not great. In addition, it's pretty divey. Take your money elsewhere.