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Flushing Sichuan

Jim Leff Sep 12, 2009 06:50 AM

Can anyone either round up for me the consensus opinion re: the state of the art of Sichuan restaurants in Flushing, or else point me to a good recent thread doing so? E.g. is Sichuan Dynasty still great?

I used to know this like the back of my hand, but I've neglected Flushing for several years.

  1. MOREKASHA Sep 12, 2009 09:07 AM

    For me it's still Spicy & Tasty, then Little Pepper. Havent like or loved Szechuan Gourmet @ all. But, there's so much going on in Flushing these days. Oh, to still live on the Q17

    1. el jefe Sep 12, 2009 09:55 AM

      As for "real" restaurants, I'm not sure there's any consensus between Spicy and Tasty or Little Pepper. Chendu Eats in the basement mall gets lots of votes too. Szechuan Gourmet gets mentioned much less frequently but I've rarely heard a bad word about it.
      If you wait a while, Spicy and Tasty will win easily as Little Pepper has a long planned move to College Point in the works.
      Where is Sichuan Dynasty?

      1. Bob Martinez Sep 12, 2009 01:20 PM

        I was at Spicy & Tasty last week after a day session at the US Open. It's as good as ever.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bob Martinez
          Jim Leff Sep 12, 2009 10:28 PM

          Sichuan Dynasty was at 135-32 40th Road, but may have closed a couple years ago. I'm figuring Golden Monkey is closed, as well. I feel like Rip Van Chowhound.

          1. re: Jim Leff
            Bob Martinez Sep 13, 2009 08:20 AM

            I honestly think there's never been a better time to eat Szechuan food in New York. S&T and Little Pepper are still at the top of their game. There have been hundreds of posts about great places in the various Flushing malls. In Manhattan Szechuan Gourmet sets the gold standard, followed closely by Wu Liang Ye and various branches of the GSI mini chain. And finally, wonder of wonders, there's outstanding Szechuan food in Brooklyn - Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge.

            I know others will chime in with even more places. You've got some great meals in your future.

        2. Jim Leff Sep 13, 2009 11:43 AM

          Just noticed Brian S' thread about Chengdu Heaven http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/451804
          ...which, if I understand correctly, is in the same food stall area as the place with the really good northern lamb noodles. Still there? still good?

          11 Replies
          1. re: Jim Leff
            ow77 Sep 13, 2009 12:56 PM

            Chengdu Heaven is still there. I had Dan Dan noodles two weeks ago and it was great. Also had the cumin lamb burger at the Xi'an stand and it was mediocre at best.

            1. re: ow77
              diprey Sep 14, 2009 06:50 PM

              Still torn between Xiao La Jiao and Chengdu Tien Fu: both are absolutely top notch. Also, Spicy & Tasty is very much respected (and they have the widest selection by far). I wouls also consider Gourmet Sichuan @37 St, especially for their whole fish.
              All in all, Flushing has the best Sichuan food. I would go as far as claim that XLJ and CTF are possibly the best Sichuan places on the whole Eastern US seaboard.

              1. re: diprey
                Jack Barber Sep 16, 2009 09:36 AM

                I actually think Flushing might be better for Sichuan than anywhere in the US. LA obvs more awesome for Chinese and Asian in general, but I'm not sure for szechuan...

              2. re: ow77
                bigjeff Sep 14, 2009 09:59 PM

                try the lamb face salad at the xi'an stand, paired with an order of his liang-pi; the first is way rich and the second will counteract it.

                1. re: bigjeff
                  ZenFoodist Sep 16, 2009 05:35 AM

                  I second the liang pi suggestion; it's my favorite dish in downtown Flushing.

                  Spicy and Tasty, in my humble opionon, is a notch above Little Pepper. We eat there at least once a week.

                  1. re: ZenFoodist
                    Jack Barber Sep 16, 2009 09:34 AM

                    S&T might be better overall but the cumin lamb at LP is pretty tremendous and (IMO) must be sampled. Also like the qong king chicken or however you spell it @ LP.

                    1. re: Jack Barber
                      MOREKASHA Sep 16, 2009 09:55 AM

                      Is the cumin lamb anythign like the lamd @ the old Waterfront International???

                      1. re: MOREKASHA
                        Jack Barber Sep 16, 2009 10:23 AM

                        Not sure -- but I will testify to its quality.

                        10x better than szechuan gourmet (which I otherwise am v positive about), the only other rendition I've had.

                        Here's a photo, from www.goodiesfirst.com:

                        1. re: MOREKASHA
                          Joe MacBu Sep 16, 2009 10:40 AM

                          The flavor is similar to that at WI, but the texture is different. I recall WI's version to be crispy and dry. LP's is moist and tender with onions and cilantro.
                          LP's cumin lamb is the best combination of those two ingredients I've had in the city.

                          1. re: Joe MacBu
                            CalJack Sep 16, 2009 12:19 PM

                            I couldn't agree more - Little Pepper's cumin lamb sets the standard for that dish as I know it. I've found that Metro Cafe in Sunset Park offers a similarly moist, cilantro-laden take on cumin lamb.

                    2. re: bigjeff
                      diprey Sep 22, 2009 06:10 PM

                      wow, thanks for a great idea. will try!

                2. h
                  houston Sep 16, 2009 07:47 PM

                  Not trying to be the guy who disagrees to disagree, but went to S&T today for the first time and HATED it. We went around 5:00 (nobody else in the restaurant). We ordered the wontons in chili oil, shredded pork with dried bean curd and double cooked pork. First, no spice at all in any of the dishes (realize the dried bean curd was intentional). We went all over Flushing today and all agree that S&T was really bad. Seriously like LI strip mall bad. Could it be just an off hour and their "real" chefs weren't around? Anyone experience anything like this here?

                  16 Replies
                  1. re: houston
                    MOREKASHA Sep 17, 2009 06:23 AM

                    s**T, Never had this problem. The wotnons aren't blow your taste buds through the roof spicy or ma la. But...if new, I'd suggest asking for spicy and for ma la on the appropiate dishes. The twice cooked pork is not a spicy dish as far as I've had it. Net time, go to the front counter and get some of the dishes that are redish, (chilli oil) also the cold chilly noodles, and look for dishes o nthe menu that mention chilli or printed in red or have starts next to them ( I dont have the menu with me, but i believe they list what's spicy) on th emenu....

                    1. re: MOREKASHA
                      Jim Leff Sep 17, 2009 06:26 AM

                      I've been reading thru a lot of the recent threads, and get the feeling there may have been a recent decline at S&T.

                      1. re: Jim Leff
                        Polecat Sep 17, 2009 07:57 AM

                        I have experienced this restaurant over time, a visit here, a visit there, over the past few years, dating back to their previous location. There has been no decline whatsoever.

                        1. re: Polecat
                          Bob Martinez Sep 17, 2009 09:22 AM

                          As I said earlier, I visited S&T a couple of weeks ago after a day at the US Open. Recently I've been eating at other Szechuan places a lot more than S&T because I haven't been getting out to Flushing that much. I was interested to see how they'd hold up. The short answer - they're still at the top of their game.

                          We had:

                          Dumplings in Red Chili Sauce
                          Dan Dan Noodles
                          Shredded Dry Beef w. Spicy Sauce
                          Sauteed Broccoli w. Dry Pepper
                          Enhanced Pork

                          The shredded beef was a new dish for me, the others were all old favorites. All were full of crisp balanced flavor and suitably spicy.

                          Pictures of all the dishes are here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/64756738...

                          You'll note the generous portion of whole red peppers and red pepper flakes. There was also plenty of buzzy zip in the noodles from Szechuan pepper corns.

                          When I used to go more frequently I was known to the staff. Since I now only get over there 3 or 4 times a year that's not the case. Having said that, I never have any problem getting the food suitably spiced and I don't have to do anything special. I don't speak Mandarin, I don't have any secret signs that I flash to the chef, I don't show them my passport which proves that I've made 178 trips to Chengdu Province.

                          I just smile and ask for the food to be spicy. They take me at my word. Maybe I look like I mean it but I suspect virtually anyone who looks comfortable ordering these dishes can get the same.

                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                            houston Sep 17, 2009 02:06 PM

                            Pictures look great and way better than anything we had. The problem wasn't necessarily the spice level (although it could have been spicier). The food just wasn't good. None of it. Honestly. Anyway, I will chalk it up to an off moment and hopefully try again with better success another day.

                            1. re: houston
                              Lau Sep 17, 2009 02:58 PM

                              yeah i think its pretty solid, I'd give it another shot before you write them off

                              btw did you happen to go at an off hour or something? Could that the regular chef was off or something?

                            2. re: Bob Martinez
                              janie Sep 17, 2009 04:23 PM

                              what's inside the dumplings?

                              1. re: janie
                                Lau Sep 17, 2009 05:23 PM


                              2. re: Bob Martinez
                                phantomdoc Sep 21, 2009 07:42 AM

                                Great pictures Bob. Are you supposed to eat all the peppers mixed in with the other ingredients? It seems a bit excessive.

                                1. re: phantomdoc
                                  Bob Martinez Sep 21, 2009 08:59 AM

                                  They impart plenty of spiciness to the dish but I don't eat the whole peppers. There are smaller diced bits that I do eat.

                        2. re: houston
                          ZenFoodist Sep 17, 2009 06:33 AM

                          I am there once a week. Usually on Wednesdays or Fridays. And I have never experienced anything even remotely like this. I go later though. Closer to 7:00pm. Sorry you had such a sub par experience, LI Strip Mall Bad, is Very Bad when it comes to Chinese food. Perhaps it was because you were a first-timer and they dumbed the food down for you thinking you could not handle the incendiary-ness ( is that a word?) ? WhenI walk in they know I want it HOT. VERY hot.

                          1. re: houston
                            burton Sep 17, 2009 09:18 AM

                            It's funny how your post jogged memories of several visits to S&T a few months back. Having had exceptional meals there in past years (including numerous items from the front case) I was dumbfounded to find the food utterly unremarkable - one note, generic, even bland. Maybe giving clear specifications with each order might help but that had never been necessary in the past and caught me unawares. Frankly it's a bit much to have to remember which preparation instructions to supply with each dish on pain of receiving a mediocre meal. For this reason I've shied away from S&T in recent months. Glad others have had more success and managed to avoid these issues. For now I'm happy with Little Pepper and the Chengdu stall mentioned above.

                            1. re: houston
                              Mandu Sep 17, 2009 03:44 PM

                              I think you ordered wrong. I've been eating there for years (at least once a month, sometimes more often) and other than one bad incident involving a fish on New Year's Eve I've never had a problem. Never. That said I know what I like and nothing you ordered is anything that I order there -- not their specialties.
                              I always order a selection of the following: to start, either the cucumbers or the bamboo shoot, though I sometimes have ordered the wasabi clams if I'm there with a group. Then I order the mild spicy chicken or whatever it's called, always specify that I want it with the bone-in. Then either kung pao shrimp (called something else on the menu) or the pickled turnip shrimp, the hollow vegetable or watercress, the dry cooked bitter melon, the fish in the spicy sauce that's on the last page of the menu, and sometimes, if I want something mild, the little shrimp with the tofu dish -- very gentle, but a nice counter balance. The lamb dishes I do like better at Little Pepper. But I would say that Spicy and Tasty is my favorite restaurant in all of NYC (I live nearby so that helps), judged by the place I back to again and again and introduce to friends.

                              1. re: Mandu
                                Bob Martinez Sep 17, 2009 07:10 PM

                                "I think you ordered wrong."

                                He ordered *differently* from you but he didn't order "wrong." I've had almost every one of those dishes multiple times and they've always been outstanding. You're also incorrect about those dishes "not being their specialities."

                                Wontons in chili oil? A mainstream Szecuan staple. Ditto double cooked pork and the shredded pork with dried bean curd. (This was a dish that the first incarnation of S&T had on their menu listed as "hot." It became a mild dish when they moved to their new venue. I've always asked that they make it hot, as before, and they oblige me. The dish has always been great. I've had it dozens of times over the years.)

                                By all means keep ordering the dishes that you like. Obviously it works well for you. I only wanted to correct the idea that the dishes that Houston ordered were some kind of lame stuff that isn't truly Szechuan.

                                1. re: Bob Martinez
                                  MOREKASHA Sep 18, 2009 04:41 AM

                                  Bob, Thanks for the tips. Now I have to order the twice cooked pork like you do.

                                  1. re: MOREKASHA
                                    Bob Martinez Sep 18, 2009 06:19 AM

                                    MK, while I've had their twice cooked pork it was awhile ago. The Enhanced Pork, a similar dish, is the one I order frequently. (It's similar to the double cooked pork with chili leeks served at Szechuan Gourmet on 39th St. in Manhattan.) I also highly recommend the shredded pork with dry bean curd. The pork is mixed with slivers of celery. (Not a lot, just enough to flavor the dish) The dried bean curd has a great texture, like the best al dente pasta, and it also has absorbed the full flavor of the sauce. Ask for it to be made spicy (the way it was prepared at their first location.)

                                    At one point I was hitting S&T 2 or 3 times a month and I was more inclined to eat my way through the menu. Now I go less frequently and the temptation is to always order my favorites. I'm doing my best to fight that bit of laziness. On my last visit I ordered a new dish for me, the shredded dry beef with spicy sauce, and thought it was terrific.

                                    Honestly, I've never had a bad dish at S&T. They range from the merely good all the way to excellent.

                            2. Jim Leff Sep 18, 2009 05:54 PM

                              Little Pepper was awesome last night. The cumin lamb was very good, though not as good as at this place in Framingham, MA: http://www.chow.com/tour/1533
                              ....but the braised sliced fish in spicy broth was just awesome, and the dan dan noodles weren't just great, but had that great addictive quality where you find yourself returning again and again to the dish, even when full. This is cuz there were lots of fine points in order...noodle texture being a biggie. Place was empty, whereas Spicy and Tasty was full up. The latter's a lot more shiny; Little Pepper definitely feels like "your father's sichuan restaurant".

                              I see the old Golden Monkey location, just up the block in a cellar location, is still in biz, but I haven't heard anyone mention it. It's called "Golden Sichuan".

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Jim Leff
                                Jack Barber Sep 19, 2009 01:10 PM

                                I'll take your word on the Framingham MA cumin lamb. Maybe the photo doesn't do it justice but the Little Pepper version is much more up my alley than that one appears to be...

                                1. re: Jack Barber
                                  Jim Leff Sep 21, 2009 08:13 AM

                                  Cool! Are you synesthetic?

                                  1. re: Jim Leff
                                    Jack Barber Sep 21, 2009 08:33 AM


                                    Doesn't look the same dish is all.

                                    Now I have somewhere to go eat in Framingham MA thouugh -- which has been a semiannual problem for me the past few years.

                                    1. re: Jack Barber
                                      Jim Leff Sep 21, 2009 12:42 PM

                                      I make special trips to Framingham just to eat. See more tips around that same page.

                                2. re: Jim Leff
                                  kenito799 Sep 21, 2009 11:55 AM

                                  We liked Little Pepper especially for the cold tendon-tripe dish called "husband wife lung slice". Also they have rabbit.

                                  But we keep returning to Sichuan Gourmet (37th Road) over there or S&T (have only been once but didn't think it was a s good as SG). The fried cumin beef is just awesome. They keep things very nice and spicy. Cold apps are so good--don't miss the bamboo shoots, and the pickled veg dishes.

                                  1. re: Jim Leff
                                    Jim Leff Sep 24, 2009 05:37 PM

                                    I tried Golden Sichuan. See http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/654778

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