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Jul 18, 2009 10:38 PM

Metro Cafe in Sunset

Our family made its third visit to Metro Café in Sunset Park last night (8th Avenue and 61st, I think).

Certainly it's the best Szechuan we’ve had in Brooklyn, but even more, I think it ranks with Grand Sichuan and even Spicy & Tasty.

The place is unassuming, brightly lit, and small (with the Food Channel on a widescreen TV – clever subliminal encouragement to over-order). Standouts include chong qing chicken – on the menu here as Dried Sauteed Chicken with Three Peppers, tremendous. The mesmerizing waves of spice are perfectly done, without the sour aftertaste this dish sometimes gives. Also we’ve had several orders of homemade Shanghai noodles, nicely done sautéed string beans and Chinese broccoli, and chopped pork with corn, a very soothing stew. Last night we tried Kung Pao shrimp, which was subtle and very spicy (and better than the same dish with chicken).

The owners and staff are very nice, too.

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  1. Thanks for the review. With all the competition in the immediate area the more info the better

    5 Replies
    1. re: Tay

      Sorry, I'm late on this. Metro Cafe is a gem, especially for those of us who can get to Sunset Park readily. Their Japanese snacks - some Yakitori and some fried Izakaya type stuff - is passable and good to have on hand for younger kids. Their rice plates, like pork chop with meat sauce, are pretty darn good. But the sixteen or so Sichuan specialties are terrific. I simply recommend trying each one over a few visits. Not every one might be as spectacular as those comparable you might find at Little Pepper or Spicy and Tasty, but I think Metro can give them a run for the money. And since I've gotten lazy over the last couple of years, I have less opportunity to get to Queens. So, in that regard, I'll only give a direct comparison to Bamboo Pavillion. Frankly, like the Queens places, we consider BP to be frequently remarkable. Metro Cafe can't compete with their variety, presentation or heat. BUT, I'll split hairs and contradict what Tay wrote: their is no competition in the immediate area since MC is Sunset Park's only Sichuan! Therefore, we're lucky it's so good, so close, so informal and easy to deal with logistically. Unlike BP, you can be in and out for takeout or a fast rice plate, or sit down longer for a full spread. The staff is a bit inexperienced but quite enthusiastic and the husband/wife owners (chef and manager respectively) are lovely and VERY happy to see you.

      1. re: noisejoke

        How would you compare Metro Cafe to Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge?

        1. re: noisejoke

          bty I picked up takeout at Bamboo Pavillion the other wee - not at all the way I prefer to experience ttheirfood but it was very very good.

          by the way they have a dry fried fish on their flip menu that is stunning in flavor (the fish is hardly identifiable as such, its taken apart and represented, and by the way its full of annoying little bones but its still really worth it., We have barely skimmed the surface on their menu thus far, but every time we find something special.

          Easy enuf to spend the 10 minute wait shopping at Cristoforo Columbo bakery next door, the veg market on the corner and enjoying an ice at Villabate across the street.

          1. re: jen kalb

            Jen - We too think BP is awesome, and dense with offerings! Stupid that we haven't been to Villabate yet. Thanks!

            Bob - I can't compare to GSH since I've never been. But the thing about Metro is that though it's a great addition, it can't replace anything. Some of their dishes, particularly the chicken mentioned above, the savory shrimp, and the beef dishes are great and quite possibly different than other places'. (Oh, I totally dig the cold tongue too - so far the clear winner among the few cold app. plates.)

            An aspect that makes it exceptional however, is that it's vibe is more like some combination of sabu sabu, dumpling, rice plate joint. They skew faster and younger than the other places. Young people at tables spend less time than families at weekend dinner or dim sum, likely coming before or after they go out. There are stacks of napkins, no round tables and no table cloths. And of course there's the huge TV (though Lucky 8 has a tv, too!). They're open until at least 11pm!

            AND so far MC is the only Sichuan in Sunset that I know of! We've been very happy to add them to our weekly trawl of places for snacking and more, along with Yunnan Flavor, Kai Feng Fu, Ba Xuyen, and Lanzhou Hand Pull. I know you know the drill!

            1. re: jen kalb

              Went to Bamboo Pavilion recently for the first time and had astonishing noodles in red oil. My friend's pick--I thought I was indifferent--but they were truly memorable. I'm no expert in this dish, but I think about those noodles almost daily.

              Everything else was very pleasing too, especially the tea-smoked duck.

        2. Ordered from here the other night - fried pork dumplings and Kung Pao shrimp. I immediately kicked myself for the dumplings -- fried food + delivery = soggy -- only not! The food came in under 25 minutes (I do only live a couple blocks away), the dumplings had a crispy exterior and a very tasty filling and the shrimp was VERY spicy with a pleasant charred taste. I inhaled the dumplings and ate the shrimp over several meals -- my mouth needed a chance to cool down.

          Thanks for the recommendation! It's great to have a place that matches quality Chinese food with delivery in the neighborhood.

          1 Reply
          1. re: EricaJo

            The cold pig's ear definitely travels and is splendidly chewy and rich. I'm sure the spectacular double cooked pork (oh, those charred and slippery leeks) will do the trip, too!

          2. We went to Metro Cafe last week after reading these overwhelmingly positive chowhound reviews. We were very skeptical when we first arrived because the restaurant was completely EMPTY (at 8:30pm on a Saturday night), the decor is not much to speak of, and the menu was not that big. We decided to stick it out, and I am SO GLAD that we did.

            The food was delicious! And the staff was very friendly and helpful. The Crispy Tofu was especially good -- our favorite order of the night. We also liked the Dried Sauteed Chicken with Three Peppers. The food is very spicy in the absolutely right way -- flavorful, and intense yet manageable.

            I will definitely go back here and recommend it to others!