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Apr 21, 2010 12:09 PM

Anyone Know Timetable for Chef Changs ---> Sichuan Gourmet Changeover?

New signage is in place when I drove by, but I couldn't see inside.

Anyone know when Sichuan Gourmet will be open for business?

Sichuan Gourmet
502 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821

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  1. I spoke with them in Framingham at the beginning of March and they said 2-3 May/June maybe? Can't wait!!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Science Chick

      The Brookline owner said they were waiting for the inspection to be scheduled - that was 3 weeks ago so I expect to be dining there sooner than June!

      1. re: C. Hamster

        went to the billerica location last week, at that point they said maybe as soon as two weeks, if all went smoothly.

      2. On the way home from an excellent meal at 川王府 (Chilli Garden) in Medford, we discovered 老四川 had opened TODAY! Hurrah.

        2 Replies
        1. re: KWagle

          Too bad they are opening during the water emergency! I'll wait til its well over to stop by!

          1. re: Science Chick

            I'm tempted to hit them for lunch, but I think Ill wait, too

            Thanks for the update

        2. As someone who has to rent a zipcar to drive to Framingham for my SG fix every few weeks, I was thrilled they were coming to Brookline. Now, it's early and I'll try anything a 2nd and even a 3rd time, but as first forays go, tonight was a real disappointment. They're using mostly Billerica recipes, it seems, which aren't as good as those in Framingham, and the chef is not on the same plane. The pickled veg's were more salt than delightful fresh piquancy, w one carrot chunk too large for a human mouth. The Gin Gu dry fish filets are made w celery rather than fresh bamboo shoots and have an odd filmy coating (like egg batter on french toast) that is almost sweet. In fact, the baby bok choy w (raw tasting) garlic and the (too softly textured) chicken w (overcooked) napa cabbage and (hot but not flavorful) chili sauce also hinted of sugar, rather than the multilayered rich, smoky chili flavors that make the best of the Framingham dishes so addictive. These were 3 of my top 6 dishes, and when asked I told both the hostess and the waitress what I missed in them. The decor is too sterile right now, but that can be fixed with a few lightly draped sheers or beads or interesting mobiles hanging from the window type openings. Some walled booths would be nice, too, rather than long banquettes. Service was fast and pleasant. Bar is the nicest of the 3, but needs cozying. The owners need to decide if they're going to cater to the college crowd, or try to draw the knowing Asian palate and the sophisticated foodie crowd. I fervently hope it's the latter, or it's back to Framingham for me. (As an aside, has anyone noticed a drop in quality even in Framingham? e.g., cornstarch added to chili sauces to the point of making them into a thick paste; smaller, skinny chicken wings; less smoky wonder sauce/oil on the bamboo shoots? has there been a change in ownership or chefs in the last 6 months or so?)

          3 Replies
          1. re: fdpshn

            Having been to both Framingham and Billerica dozens of times each i am always dissapointed by Framingham, so i find it interesting that you prefer Framingham. We always feel the quality and flavors in Framingham are much lower and they cook more for the common rt9 traffic masses in Framingham. Even when asked to make dishes extra extra spicy in Framingham, we find that they are not as spicy as Billerica when we say nothing. We also note they use tons of the green cayenne peppers in framingham where in Billerica they hardly use any. Also the dry fish fillet is actually called Xiang La and is the one served in the low sided silver/metal dish. It always has been over celery and has a dry thin batter on it. There is one called Jin Gu (their only 3 star dish) and it is in a large white bowl with alot of broth and served over brocoli. I have not had any with the fresh bamboo.

            1. re: hargau

              ditto Billerica Sichuan Gourmet
              It's the only Sichuan place around here where I don't have to tell the chef to stop cooking like a girl and make the food spicy like it should be.
              The best Sichuan food is spicy (and not just hot, but lots of different flavors). Without the complexity, it's not nearly as interesting...

              p.s., for Troy below, give the spicy stuff a try...ordering the Americanized stuff is like going to an Sicilian Italian place that specializes in seafood/pasta and ordering steak ;-)

              Sichuan Gourmet
              502 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821

              1. re: hargau

                The one with fresh bamboo is "Gan Gou" or 干锅 if you prefer. It's on the specials menu at Framingham and IMO well worth a trip out just for that. The manager translated it for me as "dry wok". It's my favorite dish, both satisfyingly hot and crunchy with huajiao.

                They don't have it on the menu at Brookline yet; I'm not sure they have it at Billerica--their web page lists "GinGu" which is probably the same dish as Brookline's "Jin Gu". According to the manager at Brookline, it's not the same as the "gan gou." We had the Xiang La at Brookline instead, it's good, but the gan gou is righteously awesome.

                I went to the Billerica location once, and was disappointed in both the menu selections and the cooking compared to Framingham, where the manager recognizes us and makes our food both 加辣 and 加麻, extra hot *and* extra numbing. (Despite what Todd Kliman would like you to believe, "ma la/麻辣" refers to a combination of peppery-hot and huajiao-numbing; there's no more a "ma la peppercorn" than there is a sweet and sour sugar.) I do think it's worth the time to convince the Framingham staff that you like your food highly flavorful--they generally manage to come through for us. My friend uses the word "fantastic" to describe them, and I think he's right on target.

                As for green Cayenne peppers, which I suspect are actually long-horn (goat-horn) peppers... what exactly is wrong with using a lot of those? They're amazingly hot and even more flavorful--you'll gobble them down only to discover hours later how hot they really were. :D

            2. Apologies for coming off as a neophyte, but as somone who for 25 years ate nothing from Chef Changs but their beef with broccoli and their peking ravioli (the best of those respective dishes I've had in New England -- broccoli was always fresh, they used good beef, etc) I'm wondering if anyone has tried the boring "American" dishes here.

              I'll be going either way, but want to know where to set my expectations.

              6 Replies
              1. re: TroyOLeary

                I had crab rangoons last time I went to the one in Framingham - they did 'em up right.

                1. re: TroyOLeary

                  we've taken friends who don't like spicy to SG in Billerica and absolutely loved the crab rangoon - said was the best, also for non spicy (when I need a break from the heat) the scallion pancakes are awesome. I haven't been in a couple weeks - I need my fix soon!!!! Been wanting to get a garlic shrimp dish (non spicy) but I always gravitate to my favs: chili wontons, dan dan noodles, xiang la fish.

                  1. re: TroyOLeary

                    Don't worry - you won't be alone. We live a block away and expect to see half the neighborhood there Friday after work when we pick-up the egg rolls and vegetable delight. or beef broccoli. Can't wait to try the non-spicy side of the menu and perhaps some new stuff too.

                    1. re: Berheenia

                      I think you will be dissapointed. They really are not known for americanized chinese food. There are non-spicy sichuan items on the menu that i would recommend.
                      Meatballs with Veggies Sichuan style
                      Tea smoke duck
                      Steamed jumbo shrimp with garlic
                      Fresh whole fish with scallion
                      fresh bamboo with sesame oil
                      any of the 1 pepper dishes are not really too spicy...

                      1. re: hargau

                        Good to know. I'm hoping to ease my husband out of his comfort zone although we may be stuck with the egg rolls.

                    2. re: TroyOLeary

                      I wouldn't be too concerned. My usual DCs at the Billerica location prefer their Chinese food Americanized. The dishes they've ordered were pretty good (not as good as the chicken with cayenne or the cumin lamb from the Sichuan menu, but pretty good), and the scallion pancakes are good.