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

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.

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

Szechuan Garden
463 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

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  1. 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

      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

        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

          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

            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

            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

              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. 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

              ... 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

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

            2. 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. 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

                  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

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

                      1. re: famdoc

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

                        1. re: Bob Martinez

                          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

                            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

                              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

                            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

                              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.

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                              Metro Cafe
                              4924 8th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11220

                      2. 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.

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

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: michelley

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

                          1. re: famdoc

                            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.