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Nov 4, 2009 11:09 AM

SEA: Szechuan Chef- 7 stars- Bamboo Garden

I've been coming to SEA at least once a year for the past eight years. I am in love w/ the sichuanese crab found at first 7 stars-- then I traveled to Bellevue and Szechuan Chef.

On these boards, I've learned that the owners of SC have left and there is a downhill alert (or is there?). I'm not sure if I trust going back to 7 stars (a really bad meal after the SC people left to open SC). If I were to order the following dishes: sichuanese crab, boiling fish, chonqing chicken, where should I go? I would go to all three and make my own decision... but, since I'm usually in time for only a few meals, I don't have the time to do my own needed benchmarking.

Thank you in advance!

Szechuan Chef
15015 Main St, Bellevue, WA 98007

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  1. As of when I last ate at Bamboo Garden two months ago I can highly recommend it. However, I did not have the crab, the swimming fire fish is great though. A packed restaurant usually speaks for itself as well.

    1. I'd skip SC. The food is nothing like it was under the original owners and was actually awful the last time I was there.

      1. Bamboo Garden hands down. I used to visit 7 Stars weekly, and liked Szechuan Chef when I could get over there, but BG tops them both no contest. Better ambiance and service, too! At BG "boiling fish" is Swimming Fire Fish, and it's outstanding. Add sizzling rice squares to your list, too. Actually, there's whole thread with recommendations so I'll stop.

        Szechuan Chef
        15015 Main St, Bellevue, WA 98007

        13 Replies
        1. re: christy319

          OK. I give. I guess my question is "Which?"
          The point of the one on Roy street evades me - oh wait, I've probably answered my own question. Still, are you referring to Bellevue?

          1. re: mrnelso

            As you know (you posted on this place in July 2007), Bamboo Garden on Roy Street is a vegetarian restaurant. The Bamboo Garden that is the subject of this thread on Szechuan cuisine is the Bamboo Garden in Bellevue.

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              Since the one on Roy persists in naming its dishes after meats, ambiguity persists...

              1. re: mrnelso

                It's too bad they have the same name. The vegetarian one on Roy has the distinction of serving me the worst dish I've ever had in a restaurant. That was years ago but I have no desire to ever go back.

                1. re: mrnelso

                  Its not something special to them---buddhist Chinese places in China name their veggie dishes the same as the meat ones too.

            2. re: christy319

              A question about Bamboo Garden. We tried it a few weeks ago after giving up of SC and were surprised to find it empty. Also, while we ordered off the "on the wild side" section of the menu the food had no heat. Did we need to specify that we wanted it spicy? The write ups have been so uniformly positive we are wondering what went wrong.

              1. re: FoodDee

                We go Saturdays and Sundays and it's always full, but I don't know how business is weekdays. "Wild side" doesn't mean spicy--there are plenty of dishes on that side that aren't. They've just segregated their more unusual (to American palates) dishes there. But if you did order something that should have been, it is possible they made it unspicy for you. They used to caution us when we'd order Swimming Fire Fish and the crab, and we'd have to assure them that yes spicy was okay. It is downtown Bellevue after all. What did you get?

                1. re: christy319

                  I don't remember everything but do remember having Szechuan Style Dumplings, Hot and Sour Soup, and Ma Po Tofu (with Pork). No spice on any of them - I'll try again and remeber to reassure them that I want spicy.

                  1. re: FoodDee

                    Sometimes I request "extra ma la" and that seems to do the trick. The simming fire fish is always pretty hot as a default.

                    If spice is what you want, I'd suggest also trying the newer Sichuan place named, appropriately, "Spiced".

                    1. re: equinoise

                      Re: Spiced - Unfortunately, they just closed down for failing health inspections. Rumours are abound that competing Chinese restaurants "narc"ed them out because they took a big chunk of eastside Chinese clientele for as long as they've been open.

                      They have the distinction of having a cold meats bar where you can fill a bowl with your favorite Sichuan cold meats for $5-$6. Their swimming fire fish (or whatever their equivalent was) was very well done. I hope they sort out their mess and reopen again. It's definitely a top contender against Bamboo Garden.

                      1. re: HungWeiLo

                        As I understood it they've been reopened for a week or two now.

                        1. re: HungWeiLo

                          Wow, hardball tactics! I really like both of them alot. Spiced definitely has more robust chili seasoning as a default, and the cold appetizer bar is great. But I think BG actually has more sichuan items ultimately, and Spiced lists, for example, 6-7 different meats prepared the same way.

                        2. re: equinoise

                          Thankis for that post, equinoise. I hadn't heard of Spiced and it sounds like i need to try it.

                2. Any word if the original owners of SC and 7Star will be opening another restaurant?

                  1. I heartily recommend Spiced in Bellevue across from Crossroads Shopping Center. But only if you want no-holds-barred, hot numbing Szechuan and don't mind feeling a little out of your element.

                    I know Chinese food pretty well, and in the years of eating at Sichuanese, Seven Stars Peppers, Bamboo Garden etc I even thought I had a good grip on Szechuan. But this place really threw me for a loop with dishes I'd never seen, and the ones that I have seen pull no punches. I ordered a boiled beef with a "2 peppers" heat rating (3 max) and I was sweating after about 5 min. Oh, and the cold bar is a steal - 3 items for $5.99 has been my lunch more than once. Wonderful cured meats, like pork tongue, chicken gizzards, beef tendon, etc. I'd ask for a guided tour if you're interested.

                    Staff often doesn't speak English, but the head guy and 1-2 staff can usually help with questions. If you ask your server will generally bring one of them over to help. Otherwise, I will often order by eyesight, what I see others having.

                    Crossroads Shopping Center
                    15600 NE 8th St, Bellevue, WA 98008