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Real (and fake) Authentic Sichuan Food in Park Slope!!

SamScaff Dec 2, 2011 07:17 AM

Tofu on 7th (between 3rd and 4th st) now has an authentic Sichuan menu. I've tried several entrees and they are excellent and definitely authentic.

Szechuan Garden (on 7th between 16th and Windsor) is new and claims to have authentic Sichuan food... but really doesnt. They even have a nice website (szechuangarden7ave.com) and a big paragraph talking about true Sichuan cuisine on their menu but the food is actually just americanized crap. No sichuan peppercorn used and everything is sweet. Very unfortunate.

Tofu on 7th
226 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Szechuan Garden
463 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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  1. missmasala RE: SamScaff Dec 2, 2011 07:44 AM

    Wow, this sounds very exciting. What dishes have you tried? How do they compare to other brooklyn places (grand sichuan, bamboo pavilion, or whatever it's called now) or the manhattan or queens places?

    6 Replies
    1. re: missmasala
      SamScaff RE: missmasala Dec 2, 2011 01:59 PM

      Well I havent been to the other Sichuan restaurants in Brooklyn (besides Metro Cafe in Sunset Park) but I have been to a number of the good ones in manhattan and queens.

      The Sichuan potion of the menu at Tofu has a 'chef's special' section with several 'styles' of dishes, and their corresponding heat-level (from 1-10), such as Dry Pot Style (10), Hot Sauce Style (7), Double Cooked Style (5), Hot Pepper Style (4), Kung Pao Style (3), and Cumin Style (2). They each have different proteins you can have with them, like pork,chicken,shrimp, fish, lamb, etc. Now they have chinese characters next to each dish but I cant read them so I'm not sure what these styles, such as "dry pot style" might correspond to on another sichuan menu. However, I have tried the Double Cooked pork, it was similar to other places, with slight variation. But properly served with garlic shoots/leeks. The Dry Pot Style chicken was certainly a 10/10 for heat... great flavor as well (Spicy, tingly, and spiced), and included leeks and baby bamboo shoots (the long, thin kind). That was part of the problem with Szechuan Garden.. the twice cooked pork had no chili-bean paste in it, but was just sweet and had chili flakes in it and the typical (and unappealing) american chinese food combo of cabbage/carrot/snowpea for the veggies.. Just not authentic (or appetizing...at all).

      At Tofu I also got the "hot pepper style" with 'chinese bacon.' Confusingly, this would appear on a normal sichuan menu (in english) as Cured Pork with Garlic Shoots/leeks http://www.flickr.com/photos/roboppy/... However, this version also had hot green peppers (hence the hot pepper style, i guess). The homemade bacon was excellent.. but this dish isnt for everyone. Its salty, smoky, fatty and leek-y (and delicious)...

      The cumin lamb was slightly different than i've had at other places but still delicious.

      The appetizers I probably wouldnt order again. The cold cucumber dish and "spicy noodle with minced" (which i assumed to be Dan Dan Noodles) were not up to par at all. While these two classics werent good, I didnt try other classics like 'beef and tripe in chili oil,' ''wonton in chili sauce,' beef tendon in chili oil' or 'five spiced beef.' These might be good.

      Then there are 23 'House Specialties" including Whole Bass in Hot Bean Sauce, Tea Smoked Duck, Szechuan Pepper Prawns, Chong Qing Chicken. Of these I've only tried the Chong Qing...not exactly as I've had it at other places,, but decent. Also they have of course Mapo Tofu, Pea Shoots with Garlic, and string beans with ground meat... Havent tried these yet.

      All in all there are slight variations compared to other places, but you can tell the chef knows what he's doing (as opposed to Szechuan Garden)... I hope you all enjoy as much as I have..

      1. re: SamScaff
        missmasala RE: SamScaff Dec 4, 2011 02:01 PM

        Wow, thanks for the long and detailed reply. It sounds like they have some good things, tho bad dan dan noodles will be a problem. But will definitely be checking this place out soon!

        1. re: SamScaff
          Barry Strugatz RE: SamScaff Dec 5, 2011 03:03 PM

          Great find! Had the three pepper chicken as a lunch special at Tofu. It's the real deal.
          Can't wait to try the twice cooked fish. Finally good Sichuan in PS.

          1. re: Barry Strugatz
            famdoc RE: Barry Strugatz Dec 5, 2011 04:02 PM

            This is truly great news and a testament to the power of fellow hounds. Reps to SamScaff for the original notice. Is a Chowhound meet-up in the cards?

          2. re: SamScaff
            logicchop2 RE: SamScaff Dec 6, 2011 01:52 PM

            Having been sadly disappointed by the new Szechuan Garden, I was excited to learn about Tofu on 7th (although the name didn't sound promising.. Tofu?). So far, Tofu is easily the best chinese food I've had in the neighborhood. The Dry Pot Style Chicken and Chong Qing Chicken are both excellent (and excellently hot). Even the chicken dumplings are OK (which, if you are familiar with other chinese food in the neighborhood, counts as an accolade). Wonderful find! Thanks for the reporting!

            1. re: SamScaff
              Miss Needle RE: SamScaff Jan 4, 2012 04:43 PM

              I agree with you about the lamb -- different, but still good.

              I really dig their wontons in chili oil -- not as sweet as most Szechuan places in the city (which in my mind is a good thing).

          3. Miss Needle RE: SamScaff Dec 2, 2011 12:58 PM

            Too bad about Szechuan Garden. I saw the menu and it looked promising. But the news about Tofu sounds interesting. Like missmasala, I'd also be curious to how it compares to other Szechuan restaurants around the city.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle
              cazique RE: Miss Needle Dec 2, 2011 01:56 PM

              ... as well as if they deliver to Cobble Hill, as the last Szechuan Garden (on Smith) couldn't survive, no matter how many chengdu wontons we ordered.

              1. re: cazique
                SamScaff RE: cazique Dec 2, 2011 02:14 PM

                I know Tofu delivers to Windsor Terrace, so they might deliver to Cobble Hill.. I can confirm that they deliver via car..

            2. famdoc RE: SamScaff Dec 5, 2011 10:30 AM

              Interesting. I had walked by Tofu on Saturday and noticed the new signage, indicating "Szechaun Food" Tofu has gone through so many transformations through the year and is often empty or nearly empty. From time to time, I have some of their imitation meat dishes, but prefer Dao Palate, in general, for such items. The place is not very clean (yet somehow managed to get only 20 violation points) and does ten times as much delivery business as eat in business. Yet, this new menu intrigues me and I resolve to give it a try.

              1. t
                tex.s.toast RE: SamScaff Dec 5, 2011 01:45 PM

                Is there a copy of this (Tofu's) new menu online anywhere? cursory googling suggests they dont have a website and the menupages link doesnt seem to be current. if they do grubhub/seamless i couldnt find it either.

                9 Replies
                1. re: tex.s.toast
                  Fiver RE: tex.s.toast Dec 6, 2011 01:21 PM

                  I also just tried Tofu for the first time. A coworker recommended it, but I never felt moved to give it a try (it looks a little dubious from the outside) until I saw their new signage advertising Szechuan food. We had their chonqing chicken and ma pa tofu, and my husband's head was covered in beads of sweat. It was the real thing, numbing spiciness and everything. My dad is from Chengdu and I talked to the waitress a little bit who told me that the cook is from Sichuan. You're right though, their current menu is different from the one online.

                  I had been so excited to try Szechuan Garden, even ordered it when my parents were in town. It was tasty in it's own way, but authentic Szechuan food it was not...

                  1. re: tex.s.toast
                    SamScaff RE: tex.s.toast Dec 7, 2011 02:24 PM

                    Looks like they are now on grubhub with their new menu...FYI.

                    1. re: SamScaff
                      famdoc RE: SamScaff Dec 8, 2011 07:21 AM

                      Menu on grubhub;


                      1. re: famdoc
                        Bob Martinez RE: famdoc Dec 8, 2011 07:44 AM

                        I'm not seeing too many Sichuan items on that menu.

                        1. re: Bob Martinez
                          famdoc RE: Bob Martinez Dec 8, 2011 07:46 AM

                          Not too many, but they're there. I'm going to go, armed with Sam Scaff's insight, and do the twice-baked fish, among other things.

                          1. re: famdoc
                            Bob Martinez RE: famdoc Dec 8, 2011 10:17 AM

                            Considering how awful Sichuan food is in the Slope I'd be grateful for anything. Currently I drive out to Grand Sichuan House in Bay Ridge to get my Sichuan fix. They're terrific but it would be nice to have a good choice in the neighborhood, even if it's limited.

                            1. re: Bob Martinez
                              famdoc RE: Bob Martinez Dec 8, 2011 07:19 PM

                              First visit to the new Tofu on Seventh this evening. Dan-dan noodles, twice cooked fish and ma-po tofu. The noodles were fairly non-descript, but the ma-po tofu spicy (5 on a scale of 10), generous and tasty. Highlight of meal was the twice cooked fish, a generous serving of flounder filets which were pan-fried then spiced (also a 5 on a spiciness scale of 10) and served with thinly sliced leeks. A few take-out customers saw our dishes, inquired and said they'd try the new menu next time. Photos attached. Ma-po tofu on left, twice-cooked fish on right.

                          2. re: Bob Martinez
                            SamScaff RE: Bob Martinez Dec 9, 2011 08:37 AM

                            There are actually quite a few sichuan dishes on the menu... They have two different menus (one is the vegetarian-themed menu that they used to have) and they are combined on grubhub. Plus as I mentioned above, certain dishes do not clearly have sichuan names, but are still authentic. For instance, 'stir-fried string beans' is actually the sichuan dish of dry-fried string beans with minced pork. Very tasty.

                            I tried the kung pao chicken recently. The sauce was phenomenal. Anyone expecting americanized kung pao is in for a surprise. A delicious surprise!

                            1. re: Bob Martinez
                              Pulpio RE: Bob Martinez Dec 9, 2011 10:59 AM

                              I tried the three-pepper chicken lunch special. The chicken was nicely spiced, if somewhat on the greasy side, and delicious. It came with white rice and a forgettable container of won ton soup for $7, including tax. Not a huge bargain but the closest thing to the real deal this side of Metro Cafe in Sunset Park. I'll be back.

                              Metro Cafe
                              4924 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

                      2. m
                        michelley RE: SamScaff Dec 9, 2011 04:19 PM

                        We went for lunch today. We had the triple pepper chicken which was well spiced with 3 different peppers, and the bean curd fish fillet, which had a slightly sweet sauce with ginger, scallion, sichuan peppercorns and hot peppers. 3 broccoli florets on the side, we really liked it. The hot and sour soup was good, made better with a couple of drops of the hot oil on every table. Though not traditional, we got fried rice which had a lot of vegetables in it including zucchini. The only sort of odd negative thing was that the waitress asked if we wanted more tea, which we had finished, and refilled the pot with hot water, but not a new tea bag, so we had a pot of basically hot water.
                        We're still full 5 hours later. We'll be back.

                        Tofu on 7th
                        226 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: michelley
                          famdoc RE: michelley Dec 9, 2011 06:02 PM

                          The waitress there is a bit spacey. We've always noticed that.

                          1. re: famdoc
                            Miss Needle RE: famdoc Jan 4, 2012 04:41 PM

                            Spacey is a very positive way to look at it. My choice would be to use the word apathetic. As it's the only decent Szechuan place in the hood I'll be back.

                        2. missmasala RE: SamScaff Dec 11, 2011 01:57 PM

                          Went with the family for lunch today. We got: mapo tofu, sauteed pea leaves, double-cooked pork, shrimp in black bean sauce, scallion pancakes, and dan dan noodles. The waitress tried to tell us we were ordering too much, but we assured her that we like leftovers.
                          Let me just say, I am very happy to have this place within delivery range. Is it as good as the good queens or manhattan places? No. Is it as good as grand sichuan in bay ridge? No. (tho, truth be told, the last meal I had at grand sichian was awful.) However, it is good and the people are very friendly. The mapo tofu was very good--spicy, though without a ton of tingly peppercorn goodness. The double-cooked pork was good as well, tho this is not my fave dish. Didn't love the shrimp in black bean sauce, but that's not one of my favorite dishes in general. Pea leaves were excellent--nicely sauteed and not greasy or soggy. As already reported, the dan dan noodles were not great, but surprisingly, the scallion pancake was, well-fried with nice flaky layers.
                          This place is definitely a boon for those in the area who want some sichuan but don't want to go very far, or who want it delivered. I'm looking forward to exploring more of the menu.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: missmasala
                            michelley RE: missmasala Dec 11, 2011 04:29 PM

                            The last time we went to Grand Sichuan House in November it wasn't so great. I wonder if they have a new chef. Spicy Bampa is always great, cheaper than anywhere in Manhattan, but more time consuming to get to. Will be trying more dishes at Tofu soon...I hope more people review them here!

                            Grand Sichuan House
                            8701 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                            Spicy Bampa
                            6920 18th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11204

                            1. re: michelley
                              Bob Martinez RE: michelley Dec 12, 2011 06:50 AM

                              We get to Grand Sichuan House at least once a month and our last visit was this Friday. The chengdu dumplings, fresh sliced pork, and chicken with spicy capsicum were all as good as ever. Our meal last month was also very good.

                              Our visits are all on Friday or Saturday nights. Maybe that's a factor?

                              Grand Sichuan House
                              8701 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11209

                              1. re: Bob Martinez
                                michelley RE: Bob Martinez Jan 4, 2012 03:21 PM

                                We were there on a Thursday around 2:30, and a Sunday night. What was cool, was on the Thursday we ordered spicy chicken with chinese broccoli, and the waitress told us that we wouldn't like it because it wasn't really very spicy.

                                We went again on Saturday, and had the fish in red soup which was good - but I now realize that all of dishes we ordered before that were different, the beef braised in chili sauce, the pork in garlic paste, and others used to have a thick coating of hot oil on top, and now they don't. The fish did a little, but not as much as before. I wonder if non chinese people complained about it or something because a table near us got it and it looked normal.

                                1. re: michelley
                                  Miss Needle RE: michelley Jan 4, 2012 04:38 PM

                                  Hmmmm....I placed another order for delivery with spice levels again at 10 for the food. Spice levels were definitely toned down from my previous delivery order -- they were more like a 7 (based on a couple of dishes I ordered at the restaurant -- one 5 and the other 8). They may be adjusting to customer feedback. Hope that's not the case.

                              2. re: michelley
                                jen kalb RE: michelley Jan 4, 2012 12:08 PM

                                No chef change evident at Grand Sichuan House - they were just as always last week -http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4618...

                                We picked over Spicy Bampa because our last visi tto SB wasnt as good as previously - food tasted different not so great, im talking even the complementary apps - but we will revisit to get a fix on what is happening. Most tables there seem to be ordering the hot pot these days - not us.

                                1. re: jen kalb
                                  michelley RE: jen kalb Jan 4, 2012 03:28 PM

                                  Haven't been in a few months, we usually go for lunch which they serve until 4pm for 4.95, and usually get beef braised in roasted chili sauce and their peppercorn laden kung po chicken. We've never been there at night.We've been going to tofu lately 'cause we can walk there.

                              3. re: missmasala
                                famdoc RE: missmasala Dec 13, 2011 02:48 PM

                                For you vegetarians/vegans, they'll make any of the Sichuan dishes with soy-based fake meat. For example, double cooked "chicken"

                              4. Deb Van D RE: SamScaff Dec 15, 2011 05:00 AM

                                I stopped by Tofu for a late lunch of mapo tofu the other day. Hardly enough of a sample to judge the place, and not my favorite version of the dish, but I thought it was really pretty good. Nice and spicy, yes--5 on a scale of 10 and the tofu texture was lovely. I thought the sauce was a little heavy-handed with soy sauce but overall it was very satisfying. I was warmly welcomed by the kitchen staff having their meal, but to say that the service is spacey is almost a compliment. No tea, no napkin, chopsticks, fork. Room to let. But the food has possibilities.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Deb Van D
                                  famdoc RE: Deb Van D Dec 15, 2011 05:36 AM

                                  The twice baked mock-chicken was a let-down after the twice-baked fish. The soy strips simply didn't hold the spice mixture as well as the fish did. Stick to the menu, forget improvisation.

                                  1. re: famdoc
                                    Deb Van D RE: famdoc Dec 15, 2011 08:22 AM

                                    Good advice. I'll use this thread and order narrowly when I go back. One nice thing is that you can't exactly make an expensive blunder.

                                2. Miss Needle RE: SamScaff Dec 15, 2011 10:03 AM

                                  I ordered the mabo tofu (spice level 10), chongqing chicken (spice level 10) and dumplings in Sichuan sauce for delivery. The mabo tofu was not as good as Szechuan Gourmet, but so much better than Metro. For some reason, the tofu didn't really absorb the flavors of the sauce, but it was still tasty. Spice level was good -- probably similar to the "extra spicy" at Szechuan Gourmet. Not the spiciest version I've had, but definitely enough for me -- any hotter and I would probably have issues tasting the food.

                                  The chongqing chicken was delicious as well -- its "10" wasn't as spicy as the mabo tofu. It got a bit soggy from being in the plastic container during delivery. I'm sure eating in would be better. The dumplings in sauce was good, but I think I prefer the dish with wontons as the dumplings were too starchy for my taste and prefer the thinner wonton skins. Still, I'm so happy to finally have a decent Chinese restaurant worth going to in Park Slope. Sam, thanks so much for reporting about this!

                                  Tofu on 7th
                                  226 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                                  26 Replies
                                  1. re: Miss Needle
                                    pravit RE: Miss Needle Jan 3, 2012 04:12 PM

                                    I just tried the cumin-style lamb and the pea sprouts here and I was pleasantly surprised. I moved to Brooklyn from Toronto a few months ago and had been sad about the lack of decent Chinese food.

                                    Does anyone know if they have a version of the menu in Chinese? Some of the dishes are obvious, e.g. "beef and tripe in chili oil" = fu qi fei pian, but It's so hard to make out what "hot sauce style" or "garlic style" are supposed to translate to.

                                    1. re: pravit
                                      Peter Cuce RE: pravit Jan 3, 2012 04:49 PM

                                      Do you mean the lack of decent Chinese food in NYC or in Brooklyn?

                                      1. re: pravit
                                        famdoc RE: pravit Jan 3, 2012 06:00 PM

                                        @pravit: speak with the chef. It's a small restaurant and if you ask the hostess (I use that word very loosely...I refer to the spacey lady who simultaneously takes phone orders, floor orders and serves as a server, all the while adding figures on a calculator while she pretty much ignores you) and I'm sure she'll have him come out and speak with you. We saw him and gestured our pleasure with his cooking. He got the picture, despite the language barrier.

                                        1. re: pravit
                                          Bob Martinez RE: pravit Jan 3, 2012 07:36 PM

                                          If the menu was in Chinese would you trust it more? In the end, words are just words. Whatever "spicy" translates to in Chinese is, in the end, just a word. The truth is on the plate.

                                          1. re: Bob Martinez
                                            missmasala RE: Bob Martinez Jan 4, 2012 10:55 AM

                                            Actually, yes, I would trust it more, if I could read it. Sometimes in translation things get muddled. For instance, when I'm in Italy I always ask for the Italian menu, because on the translated English menu, I'm never sure what's what. Things like penne arrabiata might get translated as "tubes with pepper tomato sauce." With the Italian menu, I know what I'm getting.
                                            I assume that's what Pravit meant. If he could read the Chinese menu with the real names, then he would know what the dishes really are.

                                            1. re: missmasala
                                              Bob Martinez RE: missmasala Jan 4, 2012 11:19 AM

                                              Plenty of things read nicely on a menu and then disappoint on a plate. I've had the reverse happen as well. I'm not saying that having the proper Chinese descriptions of dishes is entirely meaningless but cutting and pasting a name into a menu isn't that hard. Actually producing a credible version of the dish requires real skill.

                                              FWIW, "tubes with pepper tomato sauce" sounds appealing enough for me to order it.

                                              1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                missmasala RE: Bob Martinez Jan 5, 2012 06:39 AM

                                                maybe "tubes with pepper tomato sauce" sounds appealing, but you wouldn't necessarily know it was penne arrabiata. Pravit explains it very well below.

                                                1. re: missmasala
                                                  Bob Martinez RE: missmasala Jan 5, 2012 11:08 AM

                                                  I have no problem with a restaurant listing the proper Chinese names of dishes on a menu. Of course it wouldn't help the 98% of customers strolling down 7th Ave. in Park Slope who don't read Chinese but what the hell, why not list them. That said, reading the proper Chinese name of the dish only tells you what they're *aiming* at, not whether they hit the target. The only way you can find out is by eating the dish. That's what i meant in my earlier post when I said the truth is on the plate.

                                                  My other issue with focusing on proper names is the old authenticity issue. It's been discussed on these boards endlessly. I'm firmly in the camp of "Must Taste Good" and place "Must Be Authentic" in 2nd place. Lets say the chef at Tofu on 7th takes some liberties with classic dishes. He subtracts some ingredients and adds some others. Lets say the results turn out to be very good - different from the classic version but very good on it's own terms. To me, that's a win.

                                                  Of course authenticity and great taste aren't mutually exclusive. I guess I'm just reacting to the idea that a dish can't be properly evaluated unless we know exactly what the chef was aiming for.

                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                    Miss Needle RE: Bob Martinez Jan 5, 2012 11:30 AM

                                                    I think you're analyzing this way too much. Of course nobody knows what the dish is like until you taste it. But I don't think you're getting what pravit is trying to say.

                                                    I don't know how to read Chinese so Chinese translations will tell me zip. But if I see a dish labeled "fermented bean paste casserole" at a Korean resetaurant, I know that this can refer to a number of different things -- chung gook jang, daen jang jigae, chuetang, mae won tang to name a few. If I see the Korean version of the menu, I know exactly what I'm getting. Now whether it's a good version (whether or not it is "authentic") will of course depend on tasting it.

                                                    1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                      missmasala RE: Bob Martinez Jan 5, 2012 12:03 PM

                                                      "I guess I'm just reacting to the idea that a dish can't be properly evaluated unless we know exactly what the chef was aiming for."

                                                      I think you might be missing the point. It's not about evaluating the dish, it's about deciding what to order. When the dish comes, one hopes that it gets evaluated on its own merits. I've certainly ordered things that have arrived bearing little resemblance to an "authentic" version and enjoyed them anyway. A case in point is the masala dosa at tawa foods in JH. It is certainly not authentic, but I like it. However, if instead of calling it a masala dosa they had called it "potato pancake" I might not have ordered it. (well, okay, I would have, because the menu is so small. but that's not the case in chinese restaurants, where the menus are large.)
                                                      I like to have as much information as possible when ordering and understand when others want the same. After that, it's all about the food.

                                                      1. re: Bob Martinez
                                                        jen kalb RE: Bob Martinez Jan 5, 2012 12:04 PM

                                                        but if you dont know what target they are aiming at, you wont have a clue whether they come close. If we are talking about classic preparations, its a consideration in evaluating a place whether they succeed.

                                                        The proof is always on the plate in the end, but knowing more than a sloppy english approximation of the common dish name is always helpful.

                                                2. re: Bob Martinez
                                                  jen kalb RE: Bob Martinez Jan 4, 2012 11:57 AM

                                                  Are you talking about Tofu on 7th? I picked up a paper menu Sunday and it has the chinese names for dishes on it. Maybe this just does not carry over to the online menu services?

                                                  1. re: jen kalb
                                                    famdoc RE: jen kalb Jan 4, 2012 12:12 PM

                                                    If you speak the language, why not just speak with the chef. As I said, he's accessible, it's a small place and is never particularly busy.

                                                    1. re: famdoc
                                                      jen kalb RE: famdoc Jan 4, 2012 12:43 PM

                                                      Like I said, the written menu tells the tale. none of the available online menu services or the website include the chinese names.

                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez
                                                    pravit RE: Bob Martinez Jan 4, 2012 06:25 PM

                                                    I just ordered the Chongqing spicy chicken and stir fried green beans and was impressed! Also got them to throw in the paper menu w/ Chinese on it. I've only ever ordered delivery. The Chongqing spicy chicken is deep fried chopped up chicken meat w/ plenty of chili peppers, garlic, and Sichuan peppercorns (t's their 麻辣子鸡 dish).

                                                    Regarding the Chinese menus, I speak the language and Chinese dishes have fixed names that refer to very specific dishes. Obviously the execution will vary from restaurant to restaurant. When the dish names are translated into English they can sound very generic and it becomes difficult to tell what is what.

                                                    As an example from Tofu's menu, I now know that what they refer to as "garlic style" is "鱼香"(yuxiang), which directly translates to "fish aroma", but it doesn't have anything to do with fish - it's a kind of sour, spicy, slightly sweet sauce, and a very specific style of dish. The dish does have garlic in it, but so do countless other very different Chinese dishes. I assume they translated it that way because "fish aroma" doesn't sound very appetizing in English.

                                                    1. re: pravit
                                                      famdoc RE: pravit Jan 4, 2012 06:39 PM

                                                      I appreciate your input on this thread. Obviously, being fluent in the language helps you...and, in the end, helps us. I still encourage you to speak with the chef, because you may learn some more about the cuisine or his background that will give us a greater appreciation of the food.

                                                      By the way, we had the twice-baked fish for the third time...very pleased with it.
                                                      The dan-dan noodles seem very bland, however.

                                                      1. re: pravit
                                                        jen kalb RE: pravit Jan 5, 2012 07:39 AM

                                                        I think Fuschia Dunlop calls that seasoning"fish flavor" or "strange flavor" and its very tasty..

                                                        look forward to further explication and reports!

                                                        1. re: pravit
                                                          tex.s.toast RE: pravit Jan 5, 2012 12:46 PM

                                                          ive enjoyed vegetable dishes labeled fish-flavor before (and been curious about why they were called that/didnt taste of fish at all). thanks for this insight!

                                                          1. re: pravit
                                                            scoopG RE: pravit Jan 5, 2012 02:45 PM

                                                            It’s quite possible that the modern day usage of “Fish Fragrant” Yu Xiang 魚香 are merely homophones for the ancient names of Sichuan 渝 Yú and Hunan 湘 Xiāng.


                                                            One story has it that Chef's became tired of writing 渝湘 and instead wrote 魚香!

                                                            1. re: scoopG
                                                              Cheeryvisage RE: scoopG Jan 5, 2012 02:52 PM

                                                              lol! That actually makes a lot of sense!

                                                              1. re: Cheeryvisage
                                                                scoopG RE: Cheeryvisage Jan 6, 2012 05:22 AM

                                                                Maybe it happened like this. One day, in a Chinese restaurant somewhere as two folks were working on the menu. . .

                                                                Owner: Say how do you write Yu, the one we use in Sichuan-Hunan Sauce?
                                                                Zhou: Oh you mean the Yu with about a dozen strokes?
                                                                Owner: Yeah, that’s the one.
                                                                Zhou: I remember it has the water radical but after that it’s a blur.
                                                                Owner: What are we going to do? My dictionary is at home and we open soon.
                                                                Zhou: Just use the fish Yu. One less stroke and everyone knows Fish Yu.
                                                                Owner: Think that will work?
                                                                Zhou: Why not? It also saves us having to explain what Sichuan-Hunan Sauce is!
                                                                Owner: But now we have Fish Hunan Sauce.
                                                                Zhou: Let’s drop Hunan Xiang and use Fragrant Xiang.
                                                                Owner: Fish Fragrant Sauce?
                                                                Zhou: You bet! It will be easier to move all this surplus eggplant we have on hand.
                                                                Owner: Say it ain’t so, Zhou!

                                                                1. re: scoopG
                                                                  mookleknuck RE: scoopG Jan 6, 2012 06:51 AM

                                                                  Heehee! This was a nice way to start my morning!

                                                            2. re: pravit
                                                              SamScaff RE: pravit Jan 6, 2012 09:20 AM

                                                              Good stuff... This is exactly what I was talking about in my initial post. I knew that alot of the dishes were famous sichuan dishes, but it was hard to tell what they really were with the confusing english translations..

                                                              1. re: pravit
                                                                Miss Needle RE: pravit Jan 6, 2012 09:33 AM

                                                                Speaking of fish, I ordered the bean curd fish filet dish from the lunch menu to find out that there's no bean curd in sight! Having several Szechuan dishes that combine fish and bean curd together in the past, I was fully expecting to see bean curd in my dish. Guess it was called that way because the fish pieces were battered and fried so it resembled bean curd in appearance. It's still good but it wasn't exactly what I was in the mood for at the time.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                  michelley RE: Miss Needle Jan 12, 2012 02:26 PM

                                                                  Ha! Both my husband and I thought the other one must have gotten the bean curd, turns out neither one did. That said, nice quantity of fish in the lunch special.

                                                                  1. re: michelley
                                                                    Miss Needle RE: michelley Jan 16, 2012 06:35 PM

                                                                    Definitely a huge amount of fish. I kept eating piece after piece waiting for one of them to be bean curd thinking I just kept getting the fish by luck of the draw. By the time I got to the fourth piece was when I realized that bean curd will never make an appearance.

                                                        2. m
                                                          michelley RE: SamScaff Jan 4, 2012 03:49 PM

                                                          We had the Dry Pot Style fish and it was just great. The Pork with pickled vegetable soup was ok except that it had no pickled vegetables, but had a ton of enoki mushrooms.

                                                          1. s
                                                            SamScaff RE: SamScaff Jan 7, 2012 10:56 AM


                                                            1- Tofu on 7th has a new "website":


                                                            2- Check out these jokers.. hehe.


                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: SamScaff
                                                              Miss Needle RE: SamScaff Jan 7, 2012 12:17 PM

                                                              "Check out these jokers.. hehe.


                                                              Oh my. I have to say that I'm not surprised though. I find that a lot of Americans aren't too crazy about "authentic" Szechuan food because they find it too salty or oily or spicy or they don't get that numbing sensation of the peppercorns. I haven't been to Szechuan Garden so I don't have an opinion about that. But Hunan Delight is pretty gross and never understood why it was so popular. I'm worried about the longevity for Tofu on 7th with comments like those mentioned in that thread. I've already noticed a change in their level of spicing. I hope the word gets out -- would be great if the NYTimes would write a little feature on the $25 and under column (hint hint).

                                                              Hunan Delight
                                                              752 Union St, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                                                            2. Peter Cuce RE: SamScaff Jan 10, 2012 03:23 PM

                                                              I tried Szechuan Garden last night - as you say, standard American Chinese glop with some Sichuan peppercorns thrown in. I got an unbelievable headache after eating the food as well.

                                                              1. p
                                                                pravit RE: SamScaff Jan 15, 2012 06:57 PM

                                                                FYI, Tofu on 7th is now on Seamlessweb.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: pravit
                                                                  lambretta76 RE: pravit Jan 16, 2012 04:18 PM

                                                                  And GrubHub. They deliver to Boerum Hill / Downtown Brooklyn as well!

                                                                  We've gotten delivery twice now -- around 45 minutes each time (which has been GrubHub's estimate). And to mirror earlier sentiments, the food is just good when compare to the better Szechuan joints in town, but the Chongqing chicken is quite tasty and the mapo tofu is better than any other joint in South Brooklyn. Be sure to order extra spicy if you want to get a bit of a burn; regular spicy was just hot.

                                                                  1. re: lambretta76
                                                                    Miss Needle RE: lambretta76 Jan 16, 2012 06:36 PM

                                                                    You can also order through their website powered via beyondmenu.com.

                                                                    I ordered it a spicy 10 today and finally got it! : )

                                                                2. d
                                                                  Daniel76 RE: SamScaff Jan 23, 2012 07:32 AM

                                                                  I appreciate the fact that I was directed to this restaurant by you fine folks.. Went there Saturday night around 10 pm. There was a pretty nice stream of orders though, we were the only customers dining that night.. The seating is limited, perhaps you can squeeze 20-22 people in there sitting at 4 tops and one 6 or 8.

                                                                  The menu is divided into Americanized and Traditional food. I got a kick out of them labeling the Menu Americanized. The staff was friendly. A girl and a guy, very nice. Friends were coming in as it was Saturday night around closing I assume.

                                                                  I went down the street and picked up a six pack to drink there. Bring beer as there is a place about 3 blocks away.

                                                                  We ordered the tongue and tripe appetizer but, they were out of it. We ordered the cucumbers. The cucumber was bright and crunchy. The sauce was ok, but the crispness of the cucumber was refreshing.

                                                                  We then had the Dry Pot fish, the pea shoots, the Chong Qin chicken. The chicken was exceptional. Nice heat, nice amount of peppercorns.. But, the fact that we were sitting perhaps 25 feet from the kitchen and this plate of perfectly crisp chicken pieces arrived moments after being taken off the heat. As good a version as I have had.

                                                                  The dry pot fish also was very tasty. Large amount of fish, cooked well, sauce was nice.. Definitely a repeatable dish.

                                                                  The only miss and it was a pretty blatant miss, were the Sichuan Noodles.. It was essentially spaghetti and a dried chile oil.. One taste and we passed..

                                                                  So, now the question is, would I go back.. I have to take the g a few stops, it was 25 minutes door to door for me. The same amount of travel can get me to Elmhurst, can get me to Chinatown Manhattan, can get me on my way to Flushing.. If it were in walking distance and in my hood, i would certainly go. I just don't know if it is worth traveling for. Those two dishes that I really liked, the chicken and the fish, I would love to eat again, it is just that the menu does not seem to be so well rounded.

                                                                  Well, I just answered my own question, our best friends live around the corner, so we will definitely be back.

                                                                  Tofu on 7th
                                                                  226 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Daniel76
                                                                    Barry Strugatz RE: Daniel76 Jan 23, 2012 07:51 AM

                                                                    Don't think it's a destination place, but a neighborhood gem.

                                                                    1. re: Barry Strugatz
                                                                      Daniel76 RE: Barry Strugatz Jan 23, 2012 08:20 AM

                                                                      I agree.. I should also mention. I am eating the dry pot fish as we speak.. It's pretty damn good.

                                                                      1. re: Daniel76
                                                                        secondbecky RE: Daniel76 Jan 23, 2012 08:37 AM

                                                                        ordered there last night for chinese new years. Dry Pot chicken was delightful, although I wish they would grind the peppercorns and not throw them on whole. I have to say, too, that their wonton soup is probably the best in the neighborhood.
                                                                        I've not been impressed with their mapo tofu though. I've had better.
                                                                        The real standout in my opinion is the shredded potato in chili oil appetizer.

                                                                        Tofu on 7th
                                                                        226 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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