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SZECHUAN, oh Schezuan wherefore art thou!!!!

pearlD Aug 9, 2009 01:55 PM

Now that we have lost our regular Chinese restaurant with the late and somewhat lamented Peter's closing recently...we are on the 'search' for a 'downtown' Szechuan where we can go at the last minute BUT also looking for an 'uptown' place for the times when we want to go with 3 or 4 other couples for a grand dinner out...Suggestions please....

  1. a
    affableeater Sep 22, 2009 01:40 PM

    I think the best authentic Szechuan food in Toronto (sometimes called new style sichuan food or 新派四川菜) is the place mentioned in this post http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501869. It has since changed it's name and is now called "Hot Party" or something along those lines, but it is still the same chef and in the same location. It's in the same plaza as the Szechuan Legend at 3280 Midland Avenue, but in the Northern end of the plaza.

    I've been to other sichuan restaurants in the city (including all those recommended in the replies to this post), but I always end up going back to this place.

    IMHO the food is very authentic and reminds me of the food I used to eat in Sichuan restaurants when i lived in China and on various trips. To the uninitiated the food can be a bit greasy, but it is deliciously spicy and numbing. The decor is very run of the mill Chinese restaurant.

    1. j
      jdavis2ca Sep 22, 2009 10:52 AM

      Do any of these Szechuan restaurants listed have crispy rice soup, or crispy rice dish? (Rice that has been deeped fried and then poured with sauce to make a crackling sound).

      I have tried Hot Spicy Spicy and saw fried rice on the menu, wasnt sure if that is what im looking for. Champion House on Dundas used to serve this dish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jdavis2ca
        Teep Sep 22, 2009 11:18 AM

        No, not fried rice, that means stir fried. It's probably called sizzling rice or puffed rice. Mandarin name is "guo ba".

        BTW this puffed rice is sold in packages, you can probably heat it up in the oven and do the same treatment at home.

      2. munchieHK Sep 22, 2009 07:46 AM

        If you want totally authentic szechuan, try Chinese Beef & Lamb House on Sheppard. This is a muslim chinese restaurant, definitely not for tourists. They specialise in Uighur cuisine, largely lamb as the name suggests, but there is a fair representation of genuine szechuan dishes as well and when I say genuine, I mean brain bending. Service is good, menu is fascinating and it is thoroughly worth a try.

        3 Replies
        1. re: munchieHK
          sweetie Sep 22, 2009 10:14 AM

          That is where this months chow meet is planned for.

          1. re: munchieHK
            erly Sep 22, 2009 02:11 PM

            Chinese Beef & Lamb House is nothing like the Szechuan food that I have been accustomed to .(never been to Szechuan).
            It is not as refined, but it was cheap and fun.
            I would never think of returning.

            1. re: erly
              munchieHK Sep 22, 2009 03:32 PM

              I have been to Sichuan province several times and I can promise you that this is as close to the street food there as you are likely to find. Most 'Szechuan' places in the West are just spicy chop suey joints. They bear no relation to the real thing.

          2. b
            babinni Sep 21, 2009 02:18 PM

            yes I too need a Schezuan reco for Thurs night with Girlfriends,
            We miss Chung King at Spadina/Eg from years ago. Its gone, Hunan palace, ....whaaa. .
            Now where?
            Anywhere from Chinatown up to the 401, W of Yonge st. Need our crispy beef....reasonable , in a casual atmosphere...thanks

            1 Reply
            1. re: babinni
              embee Sep 21, 2009 08:00 PM

              From Chinatown to the 401, west of Yonge? I don't think so.

              There's Spadina Garden on Dundas west of Bay. They have the menu, but the food is nothing special. The other is Szechuan Szechuan in First Canadian Place, but their crispy beef is so sweet that it tastes candied.

              Chung King is in a mall just north of Pacific Mall in Markham - I can't remember the name they use there. Nice people, nice place, good menu, but I get the "white guy treatment" there every time.

              Paul's Deep Sea Shantung...whaaa-whaaa....

            2. m
              ms. cornbread Aug 9, 2009 07:59 PM

              I have also been wondering where the best Szechuan is in Chinatown, since going to the burbs isn't often an option for me. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

              2 Replies
              1. re: ms. cornbread
                juno Aug 10, 2009 03:07 PM

                The resto alluded to, by JonasBrand above, is Hot Spicy Spicy, in an all-Asian plaza on the northeast corner of Leslie and Finch, which has spruced up its menu recently. Be forewarned, though: some of its dishes are very, very hot, so the timid need not apply. It does a quite creditable hot and sour soup, which to me is an essential for a decent Szechuan dinner. The place is now much more consistent, and accessible to non-Asians, than it used to be. Good service, standard prices, some dishes well-executed, some less so (though still respectably done). If you've got a car but live downtown, it should be reasonably easy to get to by driving up Leslie or the Bayview Extension.

                Less easy to get to might be Szechuan Gourmet, on a plaza on the south side of Steeles Ave. W., just west of Bathurst St. Perhaps less authentic than Hot Spicy Spicy, but insanely popular with the local Jewish population. I stopped going because there was usually a wait for a table, and when you do at last get a table, you're invariably cheek-by-jowl with nearby tables. Also quite noisy. Best to go after 8:30 p.m., when things seem to thin out and quiet down. But the staff seems to handle everyone with aplomb. And the food's good. If you're still mourning Peter's closing, be aware that some of the dishes are quite similar to Peter's. But if you're downtown, it'll take a lot of effort up Bathurst St. to get there.

                1. re: juno
                  pearlD Aug 10, 2009 04:30 PM

                  JUNO....many thanks for the comprehensive post, "Hot, Spicy Spicy" sounds like a winner...To eat 'up north' at 8:30 p.m. is certainly not something we're up for(nor the cheek by jowl tables!)...I'm not actually 'mourning' Peter's..it just became something like "I'm too lazy to cook tonight, let's go to Peter's..a comfort not a destination".
                  Will certainly check out your first suggestion...........am still looking for downtown as well..We did try Xam Yu (? on Spadina) ordered Cantonese for a change and really enjoyed the 'Shrimp with Candied Walnuts" and an amazing 'Mango Chicken'...terrific for non spicy fare...

              2. JonasBrand Aug 9, 2009 03:34 PM

                Szechuan Legend is the best I've found.

                Szechuan Legend
                3280 Midland Ave, Toronto, ON M1V, CA

                7 Replies
                1. re: JonasBrand
                  childofthestorm Aug 9, 2009 05:52 PM


                  1. re: childofthestorm
                    Bigtigger Aug 9, 2009 06:01 PM

                    Szechuan Szechuan in 1st Canadian Place (I think) is an upscale place which will, very obligingly, send a waiter down to the street with your order so you can swoop by and pick it up in an area where parking is expensive and inconvenient. Good food.

                    1. re: Bigtigger
                      Teep Aug 10, 2009 08:00 AM

                      They are North American Szechuan, not very authentic.

                  2. re: JonasBrand
                    szw Aug 9, 2009 07:39 PM

                    I found szechuan legend's quality going downhill but I've been there for dimsum more than I have for dinner. The last few times their dan dan mein was tasteless but the first 2 times I had it, it was great.

                    Szechuan Legend has 2 more locations, I find the Richmond Hill one was pretty good. My favourite szechuan is behind Fantasy Eatery in scarborough. I don't know the name of the restaurant, just a hole in the wall directly behind Fantasy.

                    1. re: szw
                      JonasBrand Aug 9, 2009 08:22 PM

                      While the first visit was the best of the bunch, several subsequent trips have been quite good... I heard the head chef is now with hot hot spicy spicy, or something along those lines... yet to try, but will report when I do.

                      1. re: JonasBrand
                        chillihigh Aug 9, 2009 09:22 PM

                        what about sichuan garden on spadina in chinatown? They do a really good Kung Pao chicken

                        1. re: chillihigh
                          Tatai Sep 21, 2009 08:23 PM

                          I've had some very good meals at Sichuan Garden on Spadina. This is definitely the only authentic Sichuan restaurant in downtown Toronto.

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