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Translated: Ranking of Sichuan Restaurant in Manhattan by People from Sichuan

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A friend of mine forwarded me the link and asked me to translate it into English. The original post is:
You have to read chinese If you want to know more details. I really want to do a full translation when I have time. Maybe someone here can help out too.

1. Legend (88 7th Ave(between 15th&16th
)2. Grand Sichuan (2nd Ave & 55th, 56th St)
3. Szechuan Gourmet (21 W 39TH ST )
4. Ollie's 42nd (42nd st & 9th Ave)
5. Lan Sheng (60 WEST 39 STREET )
6. Grand Sichuan, St. Marks (19 ST MARKS PLACE )
7. Wu Liang Ye (48 St & 5th Ave)
8. Wa Jeal (1588 2 AVENUE)
9. Famous Sichuan (10 PELL STREET )
10. Pearl's (732 7 AVENUE)

Wu Liang Ye
36 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036

Famous Sichuan
10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

Szechuan Gourmet
244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

Wa Jeal
1588 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10028

Lan Sheng
60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

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  1. I have been to Sichuan Province more that 12 times and Grand Sichuan on 2nd is the real deal and delicious-although the service is hit or miss and they have raised the prices. I crave the burn!
    Perhaps I will have to give legend a try as I have never been there.

    1. Thanks. I chuckled at the comments for Wu Liang Ye. 狗眼看人低

      Wu Liang Ye
      36 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036

      1 Reply
      1. re: changy

        Care to translate or summarize some? Edit: Never mind; I read your summary below.

      2. It's nice to see Ollie's on this list, and at a respectable position too. Not to say that Ollie's is the bestest of the best, but I think it's underrated on Chowhound.

        4 Replies
        1. re: CatoUWS

          Agreed, and I've never even heard of Ollie's! I should try it soon.

          1. re: CatoUWS

            Since when is Ollie's a Sichuan restaurant?

            1. re: harrison

              Since '07, and only the 42nd St. location ... http://www.chow.com/digest/2282/surpr...

              411 W 42nd St, New York, NY 10036

              1. re: squid kun

                Wow - never knew. Only sampled the UWS wonton/egg roll/general tso's branch

          2. How's the Google translation? Is it any good, even if clunky - as usual with 'mechanical' translation?

            7 Replies
            1. re: huiray

              Hmm not really. Here's a summary, note that I am not familiar with the name of the dishes in english, so some of them might be a little literal.

              1. Legend (88 7th Ave(between 15th&16th) - Extensive menu. Authentic food. Popular dishes are fish cooked in pickled cabbage and hot oil and spicy/pepper chicken. Variety of small bites. Serves hotpot. Must have head chef cook, sous chef tends to oversalt. 5 stars
              2. Grand Sichuan (2nd Ave & 55th, 56th St) - Pretty good with the spiciness and numbness. Popular dish: Fish cooked in hot oil. 4 stars
              3. Szechuan Gourmet (21 W 39TH ST) - A few good dishes. Ok food. 3 stars
              4. Ollie's 42nd (42nd st & 9th Ave) - Interesting decor, pretty authentic, declining quality. 3 stars
              5. Lan Sheng (60 WEST 39 STREET ) - Chef used to work at szechuan gourment, similar taste. 3 star
              6. Grand Sichuan, St. Marks (19 ST MARKS PLACE ) - The food is very inconsistent between stores. Good for take out at best. 2 stars
              7. Wu Liang Ye (48 St & 5th Ave) - Average taste. Targeted towards westerners. Nothing special. Dirty. Mostly negative comments from forum posters. 1 Star

              The rest are average, not very memorable.

              Wu Liang Ye
              36 W 48th St, New York, NY 10036

              Szechuan Gourmet
              244 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019

              Lan Sheng
              60 W 39th St, New York, NY 10018

              1. re: changy

                Surprised Szechuan Chalet isn't on the list.

                Szechuan Chalet
                1395 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10021

                1. re: gutsofsteel

                  +1 - I ate there last week and the ma po tofu and the dumplings were stand-outs. It's a better room than any of the others too. Not so grimy.

                  1. re: Scotty100

                    There's an extensive discussion on Szechuan food going on in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/751101

                  2. re: gutsofsteel

                    According to my sichuan friends, those ones on 2nd avenue, from 85th street to 23rd street, are almost all adapted more or less to american taste. The only exception probably is the Grand Sichuan on 55th street due to its large chinese client base. It doesn't mean those are not good. It is just if you are looking for "authentic" Sichuan food, you might not get what you would have got in Sichuan.

                  3. re: changy

                    Thanks for the summary

                    1. re: changy

                      Here is what I read in the Chinese report cited by the OP:

                      (Please note that I have switched the order, based on Biohazard’s apportioned quality stars. So Wa Jeal (two stars) is now #7 and Wu Liang Ye with (one star) drops to the eighth spot!)

                      1.) Legend: Five Stars. Great décor, good bar with a complete menu. Authentic Sichuan here with many Chengdu appetizers. Best dishes are their hotpot and fish cooked in pickled vegetables.

                      2.) Grand Sichuan (2nd & 55th) : Four Stars. Ma-la flavor not bad here. Has been open for many years. Their signature dish is Fish Cooked in Oil.

                      3.) Szechuan Gourmet: Three Stars. Several good dishes here done home-style. Good location, steady business but poor service.

                      4.) Ollie’s (42nd & 9th): Three Stars. Very orthodox. Used to be an old family favorite but high kitchen turnover has led to a decline in quality.

                      5.) Lan Sheng: Three Stars.

                      6.) Grand Sichuan, St. Mark’s: Two Stars.

                      7.) Wa Jeal: Two Stars. Don’t remember the location cause a friend drove me. Home-style flavor is not too bad. Not a good place to meet folks but better for take-out.

                      8.) Wu Liang Ye: One Star. Ordinary. This place’s flavor is for foreigners and is nothing special.

                      9.) Famous Sichuan: One Star. Too little time spent here but it is nothing special.

                      10.) Pearls: One Star. Twice cooked Pork is OK; their Ma Po Dofu is dreadful. Nothing really distinguishing here.

                  4. I am not sure why these Sichuan restaurants are even ranked. There are no actual food reviews going on in the link provided by the OP. In at least four of the ten (Szechuan Gourmet, Lan Sheng, Grand Sichuan St. Mark's, and Famous Sichuan) absolutely no dishes are even tasted or reported about! So how they can be ranked is beyond me. Also, no explanation is offered for how the stars are apportioned by the "reviewer" Biohazard.

                    1. just because someone comes from somewhere doesn't mean they know what good food from that locale is like. I have lots of friends from the barbecue belt, but some of them don't really have an idea of what "good" barbecue is versus bad. to widen the scope even further, just because someone is from america doesn't mean they know what a good burger is like--they might (and probably would) prefer a fast food burger to something like the black label burger. so this list is pretty much invalid in my eyes, and completely arbitrary.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: IrnScrabbleChf52

                        yah it seems somewhat arbitrary, the grand sichuan on 2nd ave is pretty bad from the few times i went there...

                      2. Any "best of chinese" list with Ollies on 42nd street makes me snicker and chuckle

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: AubWah

                          How come? I've been there a few times. It's not like the other Ollie's Noodle Shops - it's a mostly Szechuan restaurant, and I think a pretty good one. Perhaps you haven't been to it.

                          1. re: small h

                            i have a feeling it caters to the chinese consulate which is only like a block away, i always notice everytime ive had to go to the chinese consulate for a visa.

                            1. re: small h

                              Ive never eaten their food but my gf got delivery once and said it was slop. What really bothers me about the list is the dis respect for Famous Sichuan

                              Famous Sichuan
                              10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                              1. re: AubWah

                                I think it depends a lot on what you order. I had one slop-quality meal at Wa Jeal, but that doesn't mean I've written the place off. I'll just try again. At Ollie's, I've been very happy with the spicy mung bean noodles (so happy that I learned to make them at home). I also like the braised buffalo carp with hot bean sauce, the potatoes with hot pepper, and the seafood and asparagus bisque, which is probably not Szechuan, but is good nonetheless.

                              2. re: small h

                                small h, is Ollie's a fully fledged Sichuan spot or have they just added a few Sichuan dishes? How would you compare Ollie's then to Szechuan Gourmet?

                                1. re: scoopG

                                  It's not a full-fledged Sichuan spot, but there are many Sichuan dishes on the regular menu and more that are specials. The first time I noticed them was at least four or five years ago, so the addition of Sichuan dishes isn't recent. Note that I haven't eaten there in about a year, so my info may be out of date - it could've gotten better or worse since then. And I've never been to Szechuan Gourmet, so I couldn't say which is better.

                                  I think Ollie's has an edge over Wu Liang Ye and Wa Jeal and Grand Sichuan St. Mark's, but I didn't do a dish-to-dish comparison. And I don't eat meat, so I'm probably not eating things that most diners would use as yardsticks at a Sichuan restaurant.

                                  1. re: small h

                                    I think Szechuan Gourmet currently is the gold standard for Sichuan in Manhattan. I've eaten at Lan Sheng, Wu Liang Ye and two "not on the list" (Mapo Dofu on the east side and Old Sichuan.) I've actually heard negative things about Wa Jeal and Szechuan Chalet so that makes me hesitant to put them into play with other more steady options available. I can where see not eating meat will certainly make your Sichuan dining experience different!

                                    1. re: scoopG

                                      Yes, a sauce that probably tastes awesome on pork will completely obliterate shrimp. I will make it a point to get over to Szechuan Gourmet one day soon - I know how soon the tide can turn in Chinese restaurants.

                            2. From what i read so far, this list underwent several versions by different people to include reader's replies literally. It is interesting to compare the reaction to the list between here and on the chinese site. It generated many replies on both. On Chinese website the readers were posting their own opinions, which were included in later versions. There are no serious disputes on the ranking at all. They seemed either largely agree with it or not care about it.
                              According to my Sichuan friends, Ollies, Grand Sichuan and Famous Sichuan are all acceptable places for authentic Sichuan food. The only problem with Famous Sichuan is actually its location. Chinatown is dominated by Cantonese and Fujianese, who generally dislike spicy food. It looks like Sichuan people don't associate Chinatown with authentic Sichuan food so they just rarely go down there as the post mentioned. The newly-opened Old Sichuan may face the same problem.

                              Famous Sichuan
                              10 Pell St, New York, NY 10013

                              Old Sichuan
                              65 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: ny2beijing

                                agree that cantonese people generally don't like spicy food, but funny enough sichuan food is probably one of the more popular chinese foods in HK, id probably say in order of popularity it would go 1) cantonese 2) chiu chow 3) shanghainese 4) sichuan

                                1. re: Lau

                                  If Sichuan restaurant can gain popularity in Chinatown, it would mark a major change in neighborhood taste. Looking at what has happened in Beijing and Hong Kong, one would think this is only a matter of time. But can Chinatown change as fast as China? :)

                                  1. re: ny2beijing

                                    well i agree with you, i highly doubt that the taste of ctown locals is changing anytime soon, old cantonese and toison people and poor fujian immigrants seem like an unlikely source of revenue and unlikely to change their taste

                                2. re: ny2beijing

                                  I do not see many Chinese replies on that website. Once again, they are merely lists with zero or very minute actual food reviews, which of course is what Chowhound is all about.

                                  1. re: scoopG

                                    This post included 21 replies from readers on its earlier version. And there are more replies on its newer versions. I don't want to say the number proves its accuracy. We all know this is just a personal preference thing. Just since we are discussing one type of ethnic food, it should be relevent to be aware of basic ethnic difference, even the sample pool is very small. For example, I believe most of my sichuan friends couldn't care less about how Sheng Jian Bao is in a restaurant, some of them don't even know what it is. But shanghai friends would think it's a critical factor to judge a restaurant.

                                3. There have been a bunch of responses about the restaurants further down the list, but I just want to point out (and I know that I'm the one who has been raving about Legend for a while now) that the number one spot on the list, Legend, is an amazing restaurant, relatively recently opened, and that despite some variation in the food (I was interested to read about the sous chef in the translation), the menu is huge, extremely authentic, and the quality is really really high. The dishes apparently mentioned on the Chinese website, the fish cooked with hot oil, cabbage, and tofu, and at least a couple of the spicy chicken dishes are the kinds of food you dream about (if you're prone to Sichuan peppercorn dreams, that is)--this is extremely serious cooking, and up till a couple of nights ago, I hadn't even realized that they do hotpot--but news about Legend is clearly out on some kind of Sichuan network, because the place is increasingly crowded. I can't speak to the origins of the original post, but Legend is certainly a serious contender for best in Manhattan.