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Jan 8, 2012 10:01 AM

Sichuan at Imperial Wok in N White Plains: thumbs up

Jim Leff raved about a secret Sichuan menu at Imperial Wok on North Broadway (Route 22) in North White Plains a few months back ( Last night, I went to see if that menu was still there, and if it measured up.

Score another one for the Alpha Hound.

First of all, it's not a menu you have to ask for, it's got it's own page on the general menu. Obviously, it's not as extensive as Sichuan-only places, but the classic dishes are well-represented (wontons in hot oil, dan dan noodles, double-cooked pork, etc.).

I decided to go with a good litmus test for Sicuhan places: dan dan noodles and double-cooked pork. The dan dan noodles were a solid rendition, the chili oil left my mouth pleasantly buzzing and ground pork was crisp. One quibble: I didn't detect much Sichuan peppercorn.

The double-cooked pork was right-on: nicely cooked strips of fat-streaked pork belly with leeks, peppers and fermented black beans. I asked them to make it a little spicier, and they didn't disappoint. The best thing was, they didn't just dump a bunch of red chili flakes to overpower the dish, they added the chili in a way that made me do a slow burn.

Is Imperial Wok as good as the top Sichuan-only places in NYC? Probably not, but it's a 5-minute drive from White Plains, and if anyone can get this level of Sichuan cooking elsewhere in Westchester, I'd love to know about it. Imperial Wok will definitely be in my regular rotation from now on and is a nice complement to the Cantonese offerings at Aberdeen.

P.S. Right under the Sichuan menu, there was a short menu of Taiwanese specials, including sauteed pea shoots and dishes with Chinese sausage. Anyone tried anything off this menu? How does it measure up?

P.P.S. Neither the Sichuan or Taiwanese menu is on the takeout/delivery menu, so I'm not sure if those dishes are eat-in only.

Imperial Wok
736 N Broadway, White Plains, NY 10603

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  1. thanks so much for your review, can't wait to give it a try. Did you notice any lamb/cumin dishes on the menu?

    1 Reply
    1. re: vinouspleasure

      No cumin lamb, unfortunately - they might have had a cumin dish with beef, but I didn't look that closely.

      But they did have dishes liked braised, sliced fish and Mao's style pork with chestnuts.

    2. How was the service? Last time I was there to get takeout I ordered in English. Assuming that I dont speak any Chinese (not to pad myself on the back but my accent is kind of faint), the hostess told the waiter "this guy is kind of weird!" in Chinese. Not the most pleasant experience because of that. And I havent been there since then!

      2 Replies
        1. re: kdgchow

          I guess you are not "weird" like me. Haha!

      1. I always order from their Taiwanese menu. It's filled with subtly spiced treasures and loads of basil.

        3 Replies
          1. re: vinouspleasure

            My favorite is the squid casserole. And I love those dishes mentioned above with Chinese sausage. Anything that sounds good on that menu probably will be.

        1. and they deliver to purchase!! people are always saying that there are no more good chinese restos in the area. Within 10-15 minutes I can be on Central Avenue (place next to best buy), White Plains (aberdeen, imperial wok & kam sen), Scarsdsale (place near scarsdale pastry center), Purchase (china white). and thats not including panda pavillion in Greenwich (nicest delivery staff ever).

          granted we are not flushing or bay ridge but convenience counts for something!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: cubanat

            did you just categorize panda pavilion in greenwich as a good chinese resto?

            Granted I am a huge fan of central seafood and aberden, but what have you had at panda pavilion that makes it worthwhile? I would much rather get delivery from hunan cafe or drop by penang grill for some quality chinese food.

            1. re: discounteggroll

              Ok I will preface that statement with for delivery only!! :) Their house special peking shrimp is great. huge shrimp in a not overly sweet-ish sauce that just covers the lightly fried shrimp also twice cooked pork with eggpalnt dish. their ribs bone in of course are also decent and brown rice which you still can't get at a bunch of places. also their string beans with pork bits & chow fun )(pork as well--kids got chciken the other night and it was to healthy tasting) are good too.

            2. re: cubanat

              Yeah, Westchester is never going to have to have the breadth of quality Chinese places, both by cuisine and price point, as NYC. But there's at least one place to get reasonably authentic Cantonese/Hong Kong/dim sum (Aberdeen), Sichuan (Imperial Wok) and Cantonese BBQ (Kam Sen) that's executed reasonably well - though I wish Kam Sen's BBQ was a little more consistent!

              Now, if Xian Foods opened a branch in White Plains, that would be cause for celebration!

              1. re: kdgchow

                we asked the best of the bad chinese restaurants near us (dong's happy garden) if they could make szechuan food as it's found in flushing. Interestingly, they said they could, but they don't have the ingredients on hand and they don't think there's enough demand in the area to justify buying those ingredients. I told them I disagreed but in the end, of course it's their business.

                I relayed this story to a friend of mine from hk and he suggested I ask them to make the hk dish singapore chow fun since they have both singapore mei fun and chow fun on the menu. It was a good idea and while not great, they did a credible job with dish as chow fun is one of their better dishes.

            3. Just went here and this is a real find. To put it in perspective from my old East Village stomping grounds, I would say not quite as good as Grand Sichuan on St Marks but better than Hot Kitchen. We were there on a Wednesday lunch, despite some warning that the A-grade chef might not work that day, and things were fine. Overall, spicey and authentic, if lacking the sichuan peppercorn side of ma-la. We had:

              Sichuan wontons in hot oil - good, not great. The sauce was on, and the dumplings tasty, but the filling was a bit firm and the wrappers fell apart.

              Beef tendon in spicy sauce. Very good, with decent texture and a hot and sour sauce. Not as hot as Grand Sichuan, not quite the great texture of Momofuku, but good and something you can't get everywhere.

              Chicken with peanuts (from the sichuan menu) - this was OK but perhaps a little disappointing, as it was more the Americanized version - or perhaps Taiwanese? The chicken was breaded and fried, and the stirfry had the little seseme cracker nuggets that I vaguely think of as Taiwanese. Not bad if you think of it versus the usual Chinese-American, but not Sichuan tasting to me and wouldn't be on the list next time.

              Ants Climbing a Tree (listed as cellophane noodles with Pork) - this was excellent, better than Grand Sichuan St Marks. Spicy, with lots of crispy pork and green onions. A big portion.

              Total was $50 all-in and 3 people couldn't quite finish it all.

              6 Replies
              1. re: tazerowe

                Doesn't the lack of Sichuan peppercorn ma-la numbing effect automatically disqualifies it from being authentic? Was there any Sichuan peppercorns used?

                1. re: pabboy

                  Technically, you are right, I guess that eliminates true authenticity and, no, I detected no sichuan pepper. However, the dishes (chicken accepted) were otherwise cooked in a traditional sichun fashion (both technique and recipe), so more authentic than the more common Chinese-American dishes labeled sichuan. Given the other options in the area, and remembering the a few years back where there were few sichuan options anywhere and sichuan pepper was illegal, I still think this is worth supporting.

                  1. re: pabboy

                    I would think so. I was in Chengdu a few weeks ago - not only was the ma la taste pervasive, but I noticed heavy use of fresh Sichuan peppercorns which you can't even get in the U.S. :-(
                    We had hotpot that was crammed full of them.

                    1. re: rgny

                      Sichuan peppercorn was illegal but I was always able to find them in Asian groceries under some other labels. The legalized ones you find now must be heat treated to eliminate citrus canker.

                      My parents have a prickly ash tree so I can get my hands on fresh Sichuan peppercorns.

                    2. re: pabboy

                      Well, I would say one thing - I don't believe that twice-cooked pork generally has Sichuan peppercorn in it, so I believe the dish I had was a relatively authentic version.

                    3. re: tazerowe

                      Sounds good, but what restaurant are you talking about?