Sichuan Bistro near Cincinnati, Best Pot Stickers On Earth? ^L^
Hello again ChowHound readers,
I ventured north to the Mason area, to drag a friend who likes traditional Chinese food, up to the Sichuan Bistro ( http://www.sichuanbistro.com/ 7888 Mason-Montgomery Road, Mason, OH 45040-9316 513-770-3123).
Make sure you get the orange 'real chinese food" menu, as well as the white American Chinese menu and the newer green Malaysian Food menu! *L* The orange menu has all kinds of "interesting" items! ^L^ Lots of "Pig's Ear" items, whole fish and so forth.
We (or should I say "I" since my friend can't eat spicy food) started with orders of Hot and Sour Soup, Pot Stickers, Cold Sesame Noodles and Dumplings in Red Oil.
The Hot and Sour Soup wasn't very traditional (in my experience) or enjoyable, as they made it 'hot' by grinding in *lots* of black pepper. AAANNNT! The 'hot' of Hot and Sour Soup should come from vinegar, not tons of black pepper. All the black pepper does is irritate your lips, not make you sweat. -L-
The Cold Sesame Noodles were excellent however, light and totally non-sticky, with a nice sesame flavor and swimming in Red Oil! ^L^ Yum!
And the Dumplings in Red Oil were good, although not outstandingly good. Very large and 'plump" with filling, cooked perfectly, and again literally swimming in Red Oil, but the filling was lackluster. I give them a B+ or A-.
Which seemed odd, because the Pot Stickers were (in my experience) The Best Pot Stickers On Earth! @L@ Oh the filling was SO good! Savory, complex, juicy, with flavors of pork, onion and garlic. I would go back here just for the Pot Stickers, praying they will be as good as these were! ^L^ And they were very large, with fairly thin rice flour wrappers (for their size) and *stuffed* full of the delicious filling! And cooked perfectly too, steamed warm and pan fried on one third of their outside so it was almost crisp and blackened. Again, the best Pot Stickers I have EVER had! As this is a traditional Chinese restaurant the may have been packed with MSG, but hey if they give me Alzheimer’s, I won't remember that, but I don't think I could ever forget their flavor! ^L^
Wow, I am really 'talking' too much! Sorry! For our entrees, I ordered one of my favorites, Ma Po Tofu "extra spicy" and my friend ordered some beef curry dish off the Malaysian menu. (What? Come to a "traditional Chinese restaurant", and order Malaysian food?)
I won't even comment on my friend's beef curry dish, I tried it and it was okay, although I think the rice that came with it was better than the beef. ^L^
And my "extra spicy" Ma Po Tofu was *very* spicy (be careful at this place folks), which I love, and very simple, that way I like it. They do put ground pork in their Ma Po Tofu, unless you tell them not to, so be aware! Unfortunately the chile paste is one of those very salty kinds of chile paste, so if they put enough in to make it dangerously spicy, it is also extremely salty. -L- I enjoyed the spiciness, but I think I consumed several full GRAMS of salt by the time I was done. ºLº Ahh, the sacrifices we make sometimes! ^L^
No dessert, and I only drank water (and lots of it!) while my friend had a uninspiring glass of the house red wine. He has a 'thing' about Chinese women however, having spent lots of time in southern China, and he was in heaven!!
Oh, and I think he shares my opinion about the Pot Stickers! ^L^ I took pity on his inability to enjoy really spicy food, so after I tried a couple of the Pot Stickers, I offered to let him eat the four that were left. As I remember it, I looked down at my plate for a moment, and when I next looked up, "POOF!", they were gone! @L@
If you like Chinese food, I recommend the Sichuan Bistro! Not everything is great, but they do have The Best Pot Stickers On Earth! =L=
Woohoo! They accommodated my request! ^L^
I had to go up north to buy some living room furniture, for a visit from my parents. ºLº As a reward I stopped at the Sichuan Bistro for dinner.
I asked if they could serve me "Warm Sesame Noodles" instead of cold, in a bowl, and bring an order of the Sate Chicken at the same time. "Okay!" said my waitress/Inquisitor! She and I had discussed mixing these appetizers the last time I was there, so she understood my goal. ^L^
They brought the warm sesame noodles, still wading in a pool of red oil, in an ideally over-sized bowl, with an order of the Sate Chicken, with extra sauce! Perfect! I pulled all the tender chicken off the sticks and broke it up into the bowl , then poured the Sate sauce over it all and stirred! What great flavors, the sesame noodles, the grilled chicken bits, the spicy/sweet Sate sauce with chunks of peanuts, and the red oil! (Sichuan / Malaysian Dan-Dan Noodles!) ^L^
Of course I also had an order or Pot Stickers, and since they seemed accommodating I asked for them more fried on the bottom. They were much better!
I wasn't as original or creative for my entree, I order the Chongqing Mala Chicken (unbreaded) again, and was reward with a very large heap of thinly sliced, lightly wokked chicken breast, that was incredibly tender and delicious, covered in various spices, over a bed of shredded lettuce. Wow, it was SO good!!
What a meal! A very worthy celebration for my investment in my parents comfort! ^L^ I usually cook all my meals myself, so I feel a little guilty for going out so often - but only a little!! ^L^ Woohoo!!
I know I shouldn't post about every meal I have at the Sichuan Bistro, so I have tried to cut back on my postings, even though I eat there a lot now (like once a week on average!).
But I have a new favorite entree, so I thought I would mention it, the Fish Fillets with Sichuan Sauce! Lots of VERY tender fish fillets with a wonderfully spicy red sauce. The fish is so tender, and the sauce is nice and spicy, but also 'deep' and complex.
So my "top three" at this point, all off the Chinese menu, are Twice Cooked Pork (Bacon), Chongqing Mala Chicken (now on their new menus, btw), and Fish Fillets with Sichuan Sauce.
And of course, The Best Pot Stickers on Earth! ^L^ I cut them each in half with a knife (you have to ask for one), and turn them filling upward. Then I spoon some of their standard dipping sauce into each half, then a dollop of their Chile Oil (which you have to ask for). Finally I eat them with the big serving spoon, so I get all the sauce that leaked out on to the plate!! Woohoo!
Well, I had to back last night, since I only got to eat two of the Pot Stickers the night before!
And of course the Pot Stickers last night were not quite as good! -L- The filling was just as good but they were obviously prepared in a rushed manner, perhaps because they were the only appetizer I ordered. They were barely fried, just an area of light tan spots, and a few were misshapen from careless handling. But still delicious, just not the perfection of the previous night.
I also tried the Pork Meatball Soup and found it good! I was dehydrated after mowing my lawn and need a big bowl of hot liquid anyway, but I liked the lettuce and pork meatballs with a light grind of black pepper for bite.
I was having trouble deciding on my entree, then I spotted one of my favorites, Twice Cooked Pork, on the 'real' Chinese menu. Hmmm, I wondered what the difference would be? ^L^ When I ordered it, the waitress/Drill Instructor ^L^ asked if I really wanted it Chinese style, "with Pork Belly?" ºLº "Yes, yes!!" was my quick reply!
And sure enough, when the dish came it was mounds of thinly sliced pork belly (or what Americans would call bacon!) with black beans, green peppers, some green onion shoots and perhaps a few strips of cabbage or lettuce. It was luxurious! I'm sure most folks would have found it "too greasy", but come on, what can you expect when you wok up half a pound of bacon!?! ^L^ I loved it, and slowly savored each, soft, rich forkful, spearing a piece of perfectly woked green pepper with each load of succulent pork belly. -L- Mmmmm...
Oh, I almost forgot, I saw a fellow get a plate of "chicken on a stick" with some kind of peanut sauce, so I ask for some of that too. The waitress/Prison Guard said, "Oh, Chicken Saté?" and I agreed. ^L^ The chicken was nicely cooked, just a bit crispy on the outside, but not dry, and the Saté sauce was what you would expect, a semi-spicy, slightly sweet peanut sauce, chunky style! I liked it very much, but I started dreaming of their cold Sesame noodles, with a small bowl of the Saté sauce poured over it!! Hmmm, I’ll see what I can do about that next time! ^L^
I really like this place, there are SO many things to try! I do wish I could translate all the 'specials' they hang on the wall too! ^L^
Thanks for getting me to go back there!
That's awesome that you went back so soon Thomas. You're write ups are giving me a fierce craving for Sichuan.
We usually get the soup to mix up the spicy dishes with something a little more soothing.
Glad you liked the twice cooked pork. I love that dish, but my mom always insists on ordering the Americanized version, which is good, but c'mon...it lacks delicious pork belly.
Check out the Chongqing chicken next time and give their vegetable dishes a chance. I definitely think you would enjoy it.
Woohoo! Went back again Friday night, had a crazy week at work and filing taxes, so I needed a special meal. ^L^
For appetizers I had Pot Stickers (Duh! See title of thread!) and a concoction I dreamed up last time I was there: an order of Cold Sesame Noodles mixed with an order of Chicken Saté! Get the chicken off the sticks, and put the chicken and the Saté sauce in the Sesame Noddles. Stir and enjoy! ^L^ It was great, a lot like the 'peanut' style Dan-dan Noddles I long for! If I can get them to make 'warm' sesame noodles to use for this mix, I may have a new favorite food! *L*
For my entree, I asked for your recommendation, Chongqing Mala Chicken. It is not on the menu, so the waitress/Assassin asked I wanted the chicken "breaded or stir-fry". (?) I chose stir-fry and I am glad I did! ^L^ A goodly mound of very thinly sliced chicken breast, just lightly wok-ed (so tender and juicy!) and with a lip-tazering mix of jalapeno peppers and other spices! Wow, it was amazingly good!
And Chief, what was the spice or ingredient that 'tazered' my lips?!? ºLº I've eaten plenty of jalapeno peppers and other hot spices before, but something in this dish had my lips tingling like electricity! ^L^ I loved it but it bordered on the weird/scary! ^L^
That was it for that trip! Man, I love this place!! -L-
P.S. I wonder if Chongqing is where the brand name "Chung King" came from? ^L^
Thomas, glad you went back again, keep giving them business!. The dish is called chongqing chicken for the city in Sichuan where it comes from. I think it's actually on the menu as dry fried chicken...it seemed like the waitress knew what you're talking about though, but the traditional one is breaded (either way the "ma la" sauce is the same). Not sure about the Chung King connection, it seems reasonable though right?
The buzzing you're getting comes from the Sichuan peppercorn which is known for it's numbing taste. The buzzing lets you know you're getting authentic, fresh ground spice and flavor...it's a really great sensation, but can taste metallic if you eat too much.
I actually have been writing about cooking through this awesome Sichuan cookbook. I made the type of dan dan noodles you were craving... they were outstanding and really easy to make: http://bit.ly/cnSOwE
On a recommendation from a friend at work, I went to the "China Gourmet" tonight (on Erie Ave?). What a waste of time and money, at least for my tastes. Very 'midwestern' Chinese food.
I had a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup, and it was fine. Nice and vinegary, not lots of black pepper like "some" places! ^L^
But the Pot Stickers were tiny! Not small, tiny! And the pork version was filled with something like Jimmy Dean Sausage, and the Shrimp version some chopped up shrimp meat, but they both way too salty, and served with dipping sauces that were even more salty! Yikes! About four or five of these "pan fried dumplings" (!) would equal one Pot Sticker at Sichuan Bistro, in size, and they were NOT tasty.
The menu was quite limited and full of bland american food, about the only dish I like that the offered was Kung Pao Chicken, and while they did spice it up for me, it was a big plate of gloppy, sickly sweet, super salty sauce, with very little chicken, lots of water chestnuts and so forth. I almost didn't eat it, it was so gross! ^L^
Oh well, lesson learned! ^L^ I even thought of heading up to the Sichuan Bistro, to get the taste out of my mouth! ^L^ Or maybe Izzy's for a Double Ruben! ^L^ (I drove right by the one on Beechmont on the way home!)
Chine Gourmet on Erie Ave - NOT recommended! -L-
China Gourmet has some of the worst, overpriced food I've ever encountered, with unfriendly, pretentious service to match. A much better choice in the Hyde Park area is Oriental Wok in the Regency on Madison Rd. at Dana Ave. It's Americanized, but excellent quality, reasonably priced, and the atmosphere is pleasant.
Glad you liked it!
I haven't tried their potstickers, only the Chengdu dumplings, but I liked those a lot. I'll definitely check the potstickers out next time.
I've never been much of a hot and sour soup fan. We usually get the pork meatball and pickled vegetable soup, which is a nice dish to balance out all the other spicy stuff.
WTF? There was no Malaysian menu when I was there less than a month ago. Maybe they got a Malaysian chef or something? Seems like they're not content being the only Sichuan restaurant in town.