Grand Sichuan St. Marks(take-out)- any dishes good that aren't spicy except the pumpkin and cucumber?
Ok, so I'm home sick with the flu... Doh... So this means take-out for me today.
Love Chinese food (even the americanized stuff, a guilty pleasure of mine), but as some of you know North EV doesn't have much in this department. I work crappy hours, so take-out is a frequent dinner plan for me and I'm tired of ordering from Tasty King. From what I'm hearing GS is the place in the EV for Chinese, but I've had some bad experience with their take out. I'm very sensitive to hot pepper spice- I can take a little bit but too much, and too much leads to heartburn- Szechuan cuisine might not be a great match for me, I'm hoping there may be some non-spicy items on the menu that are actually good.
The first time we (hubs and I) ordered americanized dishes, that was our fault of course since that's not what GS does well (we didn't know that at the time). But the second time I ordered the tea smoked duck, cucumber in scallion sauce, cold spicy beef tendon, scallion pancake and wanton soup. The duck was stale and dry- tasted like last weeks' duck dipped in a deep fryer to crisp it up before it was sent. I was so disappointed because I had heard good things about the smoked tea duck on other threads. While I loved the beef tendon and it had great flavor, the burn was like lava. I can take a little spice, and I was expecting it to be spicy but this was sadly so hot it was inedible for me- out in the trash it went after a couple of bites. Are all Szechuan dishes this spicy? Geeeezus christ, how does anyone have tastebuds still alive after that kind of onslaught, I'm not one to associate intense physical pain with good food :(
Anyway, loved the wonton soup (maybe I'm nursing a flu at the moment and it was soothing) but I was disappointed that it was the best part of the take-out experience.
Here's a list of some non-spicy items from their menu. Has anyone tried any of these that can vouch for them? Or know of some other dishes that are a little spicy but not over the top? Fish doesn't travel well so I'm leaving those off the list.
Five Spiced Beef
Beef Chow Fun (love this but don't know how well GS does it)
Braised sliced beef in brown sauce
Short ribs with ginger and scallion
Shredded pork with dry bean curd & chinese celery
Cured pork with garlic shoots
Red cooking belly pork with chestnuts
Red cooking ribs with chestnuts
Shrimp or Squid with salted pepper (I'm guessing this is salt and pepper shrimp, I love this but don't know how well GS does it)
Prawn with citrus sauce
Dry & Sauteed string beans with minced pork
Lotus roots with sweet and sour sauce
Comments on the right:
Five Spiced Beef - perfectly OK but a bit salty.
Cured pork with garlic shoots - tasty but very fatty, might not be good for your stomach.
Red cooking belly pork with chestnuts - I'm not crazy about any of the red-cooking dishes. And the chestnuts are water chestnuts, unfortunately.
Prawn with citrus sauce - OK, a bit sweet, nothing exceptional.
Dry & Sauteed string beans with minced pork - excellent, one of their better dishes, as you found out.
Lotus roots with sweet and sour sauce - I didn't realize they had reinstated lotus roots. I'd expect this to be made with a traditional vinegar and sugar sauce and I'd expect it to be good.
Sauteed loofah - nothing special.
Other non-spicy dishes I like:
Jelly Fish w. scallion sauce
Spinach w. ginger sauce
The cold cucumber you mentioned
You can also get cold noodles with sesame sauce and have them make it mild. It will still taste good.
Sauteed cured dry bean curd - delicious but rather like having a dish of fatty, smoky sausage
The two pumpkin dishes
Their pea shoots are perfectly OK but not special.
Duck w. string bean
Shredded Potatoes w. Vinegar Sauce
I have liked the tea duck in the past, so I'm disappointed to hear it was bad for you.
You also might find the Kung Bao Chicken OK if you don't do what I do, which is ask for it extra spicy. It is really not that spicy when cooked in Chinese-American style, and it won't be as good, but it should still be fine.
Another thing you could do is get a whole fish steamed with ginger and scallions. It's not on their regular menu, but I think they'd do it for you, and it should travel OK. I've gotten delivery of fish from there many times.
Another restaurant to consider is Hot Kitchen, but the food I've gotten from there is generally spicier than Grand Sichuan's, and I have had few non-spicy dishes from there (but mostly from lack of interest in them on my part).
Thanks for the detailed info on the dishes! That's going to be very helpful with my next order. I was so happy with my meal from GS last night that I'm probably never going to order from Tasty King again.
I'm going to give the smoked tea duck a second chance, but only if I'm in the restaurant to sit-down and dine. I get the feeling that I was stuck with the stale/dry duck because it was take-out. The flavor was good and very interesting (different from the Peking duck which it what I've been used to), but everything else about it was downhill. If it were fresher duck I can see how it would be enjoyable.
I hear you about the red cooking pork. I liked it but I wouldn't go out of my way for it, the sauce has a very unique flavor compared to other dishes I've had- not bad at all but I think I'll try something different next time. Luckily they put real chestnuts in it.
I'm also happy to report that my beef chow fun was great, although it's a Cantonese dish GS prepared it very well. To get better I'd have to go to a sit-down Cantonese noodle house in Chinatown or Flushing.
Looks like the shredded potatoes with vinegar sauce has been recommended twice. Sounds interesting, is it a cold or hot dish? I didn't see it on the take-out menu but I'll ask for it next time and see if they can make an exception.
I've never eaten jellyfish before. What does that taste like? Is it similar to the beef tendon where it's mostly flavorless (tastes like what it's been cooked in) but more there for texture?
Luckily my stomach can handle grease (thank goodness, since I love bacon), it's just spice that causes trouble. I got an odd duck that night, there was no fat on it at all- it was all rendered out from being reheated, probably more than once :( Instead of tossing it maybe someone in the kitchen thought "hey, let's set it aside for whoever orders takeout!!"... But I foresee myself taking the in-laws to GS, I have a father in law who looooooves spicy food so he'll enjoy GS. I'll order the duck then and see how it goes.