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Szechuan Gourmet or Great Sichuan?

I'm going to be working with my clients at Park & 34th and I'll be staying near Madison and 31st and I really, really need a good Asian food fix, ideally within walking distance. Tragically (and incomprehensibly), my clients refuse to eat Indian, Thai, Vietnamese or Cambodian. I think I can talk them into Szechuan or Japanese. I love, love Sakagura, but it can be a challenge to get a table on short notice. So if that fails, I'm considering Szechuan Gourmet or Great Sichuan. I've read good reviews on both.

Any reason to visit one over the other? One of my favourite Szechuan dishes is shredded pork with dried tofu and chinese celery. I see it on the Great Sichuan menu, but not necessarily on the Szechuan Gourmet menu (though it might be just listed as shredded pork).

Does one have a better atmosphere than the other? Do both serve alcohol? Is there a better option that I haven't found yet?

Thanks in advance for any help!

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  1. Highly recommend Hunan Manor on Lexington between 39th and 40th. For Szechuan- Szechuan Gourmet on 39th

    2 Replies
    1. re: AubWah

      Hunan Manor and Mapo Tofu across the street are excellent.
      For Japanese try Hane on 3RD Ave and 38th.
      OOPS! I see you are already done. Good recs for next time.

      1. Cafe China on 37th between 5th and Medison has a much nicer atmosphere than Szechuan Gourmet or Great Sichuan. The food is comparable though portions are smaller.

        1. There are a ton of Sichuan places in the area. I agree with the Cafe China rec for the purposes of your dinner. It has the nicest atmosphere/decor of the bunch and also a full bar with interesting cocktails (I think the other places only serve beer/wine though I could be wrong).

          Foodwise, Cafe China is very good. In my experience, the food is not as spicy and a little sweeter than the others but I like it. My favorite Sichuan is actually Lan Sheng (across the street from Szechuan Gourmet) but decor there is somewhat lacking. Szechuan Gourmet is also very good but again not great decor. As for Great Sichuan, I have had mixed experiences (one great meal, one horrible meal) but to be fair I haven't eaten there in over a year. Decor again not great.

          There are also a couple of other nearby Sichuan places but my single visits to each were not good so I've never been back. They are Grand Sichuan (33rd and Lex) and Mapo Tofu (39th and Lex). Another poster mentioned Hunan Manor which I love but it's not Sichuan food and decor is also not great.

          3 Replies
          1. re: churros

            Cafe China, come on we are talking about entertaining clients. They want the deal deal tastes on their palates, not pretentious heirs. Hunan is the zenith of Chinese cooking in Midtown.

            1. re: AubWah

              AubWah, just to confirm -- are you saying that Cafe China isn't good?

              1. re: TorontoJo

                I'm saying the food is not as good as at Szechuan Gourmet or Hunan Manor, and you will pay higher prices for smaller portions.

          2. Szechuan Gourmet is good. I like the lobster dish there especially.

            1. Thanks for the feedback. Now I'm really confused! :)

              Fortunately, my clients do not need upscale decor and fawning service. I can take them to a pub and they'd be happy. I just want really good food. I don't personally care for Hunan cuisine, so I'll stick with one of the Szechuan suggestions, though there doesn't seem to be a consensus. I'll check out the menu for Cafe China later today. Good cocktails is an appealing factor.

              8 Replies
              1. re: TorontoJo

                Great Sichuan - pretty good Sichuan food in a "bright lights" neighborhood Chinese environment.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7231...

                Cafe China - uneven Sichuan food in a pleasant environment. Some dishes are very good, some are sub par. Michelin gave them a star. IMO they were overly generous.
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8062...

                Szechuan Gourmet - very good Sichuan in an environment suitable for a business dinner. A NY Times 2 star.

                Of those 3 I'd go with Szechuan Gourmet. (I could make your life even harder by recommending a 4th alternative but things are complicated enough.)

                1. re: Bob Martinez

                  So, um, now that my dinner is over, can you tell me what your 4th alternative is? :)

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Sure. Lan Sheng is on the same block as Szechuan Gourmet. The atmosphere is about the same as SG and the food is at least as good, maybe better. They got a Michelin star earlier this month.

                    Some of my posts -

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6737...

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6737...

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6737...

                    Dave Cook's pictures from that January dinner - http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatingin...

                    Full thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/673788

                    1. re: Bob Martinez

                      Ah thanks! It was recommended downthread by someone else as well. Will check it out for sure.

                2. re: TorontoJo

                  Thanks for the additional info. In this case the proper choice would be Szechuan Gourmet

                  1. re: AubWah

                    I think that will work out well.

                    If you're looking for pre-dinner cocktails in the area there are plenty of good choices. A favorite of mine is Cafe Un Deux Trois on 44th St. between 5th and 6th Ave. They do a ferocious pre-theater dinner business but there's a long bar that often is half empty. The cocktails aren't cheap but they're big and well made and the room has a lot of NY buzz that out of towners would find appealing. (It's not trendy but it certainly had energy.)

                    Back to Szechuan Gourmet - by all means call and get a reservation. You don't want to leave that to chance.

                  2. re: TorontoJo

                    Go to Lantern's Keep for cocktails, it is staffed by bartenders who also work at Milk & Honey and Raines Law Room.

                    1. re: kathryn

                      Lantern's Keep is totally unique and worth a visit.