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Apr 8, 2009 05:48 AM

Thank you, Sietsema

Re: the rave in the Village Voice of Bamboo Pavilion as the city's finest Sichuan.
This place was discovered on these boards in 2007 by Gnosh and touted by me ever since, falling on deaf ears. At least it was finally picked up by the VV and the place will get the respect it deserves.

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    1. I have to wonder if I can lay claim to discovering this place on these boards. This one, from March 2007, also fell on deaf ears...

      4 Replies
      1. re: PAL

        Yes, I think you were first. Thank you. Keep us posted on your new discoveries.

        1. re: Barry Strugatz

          what are you liking at Bamboo Pavillion?

          1. re: jen kalb

            I especially like the twice cooked braised fish filets.

      2. In writing of the liver dish, Sietsema gives us the quote of the year, "...careful cleansing has reduced the taste of urine to near-zero."

        In other words, I'm there.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Polecat

          kidney. I couldnt imagine urine flavored liver.

          I really dont much trust Sietsema's actual food taste or care much for some of his verbal antics (like the above) or the tea smoked duck whose " dense flesh tastes as smoky as a trash fire in a roadside waste can" ? That simply doesnt sound appetizing. But he does seem to get around.

          1. re: jen kalb

            kidney, yes, kidney. my bad.

            and, yeah, you're right. some of those descriptions hardly get my appetite going either. i've agreed with him at times, and at other times not. but, i have to admit, i'm a sucker for the wordplay.

            1. re: Polecat

              Over the years Sietsema has steered me to a number of great places. He's also encouraged me to go to places that I thought were only OK. His problem is that he's a romantic - he falls in love and it clouds his judgment.

              "I've just met the prettiest girl in the world!!!"

              Well, she's cute enough but "prettiest" might be an overstatement. You've got to take his reviews with a grain of salt.

              1. re: Bob Martinez

                I like the romantic aspect, the enthusiasm. If it clouds his judgement, so be it - I'll gladly take that grain of salt. My overall experiences re being in line with his opinion pretty much mirror yours - but I always look forward to his reviews, not just for the insight but for the overall entertainment value.

                In the case of this particular review, what I'd take issue with is not so much his declaring Bamboo Pavillion as being NYC's best Sichuan - perhaps it is. But it seems like he's relegating some Flushing venues, places that he's heaped praise on in the past, to serving up food that's merely spicy and more one-dimensional. If anything, much of the food I've had at Spicy and Tasty and other places meets that very same criteria - not just spicy but also balanced.

                1. re: Polecat

                  Exactly. It's not like those other places have slipped. I'm willing to believe that there's a good Szechuan option in Bensonhurst but I'm really skeptical of his decision to call it "the best." In my experience all of the leading restaurants are quite good and each has particular dishes where they excel. Szechuan Gourmet's pork belly with chili leeks is outstanding; the duck with green beans at Grand Sichuan House is a wonderful dish. The trick is to find those dishes and order them. I've never been at any of the leading Szechuan restaurants in the 5 boroughs and thought that *every* dish was better than the similar offerings at the other places. They each have their special strengths and do the rest of the dishes well.

                  Lets look on the bright side. At least Sietsema didn't pull the Xiao La Jiao trick and call Bamboo Pavilion by it's Chinese name. As I said years back, unless you speak Chinese anybody looking for a sign that said "Xiao La Jiao" would never find the place since the only English words outside the place said "Little Pepper."

                2. re: Bob Martinez

                  I'd call Sietsema's excitement "inspired", and I'd take with a grain of salt some other reviews that are entirely too methodical.

                  1. re: apossibleworld

                    I don't want an excitable critic or one who is so jaded that they underrate perfectly good restaurants. I want an *accurate* critic.

                    Sietsema is like one of those ovens that runs 15 degrees too hot. If you know that you can make an adjustment otherwise you're going to overcook a lot of food.

                    In the next week or so I'm going to try to get out to Bamboo Pavilion to see how close he came this time.

          2. No, thank you, Barry. After your earlier posts we had intended to go to BP but hadn't gotten around to it yet. We were quite disappointed on our three trips to Grand Sichuan House (and only went back because of the raves here). We went to Bamboo Pavilion last night and were very pleased. The dishes were nicely spiced, although at the lower end of the heat scale. I'm sure that if we had asked, they would have turned it up a bit for us. The meal started with complementary snacks (as in amuses bouche or banchan) including a wonderful garlic sauced bamboo shoots. The wet dishes, Dan Dan Noodles and the Chengdu Spicy Fish Fillet , were almost soup-like although all the ingredients stood up well. The meat in the dry dish, however, the Geleshan Spicy Chicken was a bit too dry. I don't think we'll order this one in the future, but there are enough other choices to try, including, as we discovered too late, some interesting looking specials a Rolodex like device with picture cards on the table. The decor is very simple, but pleasant . Service was extremely friendly, with no language issues at all. It is somewhat more expensive than what is listed on the on-line third party menu. Still, our meal, with tax and tip with the two entrées, Dan Dan noodles and two beers was under $50. Highly recommended. As a bonus, after the meal, you can cross the street and have a dessert pastry at Villabate (we resisted).

            Note that despite the Village Voice article which was also linked to by lots of local blogs, the place was empty. One other couple (Chinese) and a single takeout order while we were there. They deserve better.

            1. Bamboo Pavillion is amazing! Tonight I had the shredded pork with bean curd and celery. I think I'm going to chance the house special frog net time! Seems like I'm not the only one...
              I wrote a post on BP too.
              Hope to meet some of you hounds there soon!