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Graces Garden in Odenton

l
lsharp Nov 20, 2012 04:24 AM

Five best things to order?

  1. Treva Dec 12, 2012 01:44 PM

    As Steve wrote, no S.

    Now I'm hungry. Lucky me. Grace Garden is less than three miles from home.

    1. curioussheridan Dec 12, 2012 09:44 AM

      Inspired by this post, I'm organizing a mostly Sichuan dinner on New Year's Day, January 1st. I'll talk to Chef Li if there is enough interest.
      MENU: Cumin Lamb, Dan Dan Noodles, Sichuan Fish Fillets, Sichuan Triple Treasures, Sichuan Steamed Whole Fish with Rice Powder, Vermicelli With Pork and Pepper (apparently his take on Ants Climb a Tree), Sichuan Steamed Pork Belly, Mapo Dofu, Pipa Duck (I know) and one of their green vegetables. I may ask Chef for a couple of other off menu items.
      Are you interested? Available? We have had several outings to GG, but none specifically Sichuan.

      2 Replies
      1. re: curioussheridan
        m
        mookleknuck Dec 12, 2012 12:06 PM

        Yes, this sounds great!

        1. re: curioussheridan
          KWagle Dec 14, 2012 01:20 AM

          GRR, so you aren't going to do this in the next few days? :-( I was just about to inquire.

          I can't make it down on the 1st. End of January would work for me though. I've had all of those things except cumin lamb and mapo doufu, and they're all quite good. I'd be more interested in the rice stuffed duck and some of the dishes Chef made for the CNY dinner last year, which included among other things a sausage stuffed fish.

        2. kukubura Nov 23, 2012 03:11 AM

          Don't forget the steamed duck stuffed with sticky rice! Unlike anything else.

          And, yeah, fish noodles, sichuan whole steamed fish on its own crispy carcass, tea smoked duck, pocket tofu etc etc, etc!!!

          5 Replies
          1. re: kukubura
            KWagle Nov 23, 2012 09:49 AM

            Yes, that's often called eight treasure duck. I've had it, just not at GG.

            1. re: KWagle
              kukubura Nov 24, 2012 06:22 AM

              I don't know that they call it that there but they might know the name. Here's a pic (from the sadly shuttered Urbanite mag) It's crazy how it looks almost uncooked but then your spoon just sliiiiiides right through the skin and meat. mmmmmmmm.....

               
              1. re: kukubura
                s
                Steve Nov 24, 2012 07:03 AM

                Just to let you know, you can get the 'same' dish at Pacifica Cafe in Gaithersburg. The skin come out crispier and the interior rice fluffier, drier. I can't say which I prefer, though. The PC version is prettier.

                1. re: Steve
                  kukubura Nov 24, 2012 07:06 AM

                  If the skin is even remotely crispy then I doubt it's the same dish since this one is entirely steamed and the texture of the duck is like butter and the rice is dense, moist and sticky.

                  1. re: kukubura
                    s
                    Steve Nov 24, 2012 09:02 AM

                    I've had them both.

          2. s
            snowdenfairy Nov 22, 2012 08:17 AM

            (Not in any particular order)
            1. Ma Po Tofu (Extra ma la)
            2. Spicy Rice Powder Pork Belly
            3. Tea Smoked Duck
            4. Fish Noodles
            5. A dry fried Chicken dish that I've had on one occasion, but I do not believe is on the menu.

            1. curioussheridan Nov 22, 2012 06:37 AM

              This reminds me of how much I miss Grace Garden. Thanks to Isharp for the original post, and to Kwagle for a thoughtful and emotional tribute. I think this post calls for an early December joint outing to GG, ordering the ten or so items most mentioned here. Thoughts?

              3 Replies
              1. re: curioussheridan
                d
                dining with doc Nov 22, 2012 06:43 AM

                Why stop at 10. I usually bring 10 to 12 people and order 18 items and never is there anything left over. Plus we get some chinese donuts for desert.

                1. re: dining with doc
                  curioussheridan Nov 22, 2012 06:50 AM

                  Yes, dining with doc:"Extremism in the defense of liberty [deliciousness] is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

                2. re: curioussheridan
                  KWagle Nov 22, 2012 08:50 PM

                  Mid-December. Then I can come along. With enough people we could also order the three new dishes he made for last CNY.

                3. KWagle Nov 22, 2012 03:37 AM

                  1. Sichuan Triple treasures (tendon, tripe, tongue). Peasant food transformed into something worth traveling 500 miles for. If you can only order one item, this is it.

                  I've eaten this in pretty much every Sichuan restaurant I've been to on the east coast, and Chef Li's is *qualitatively* better. Despite mdpilam's claims (based on never having been to GG) in another thread, you're not going to get fuqi fei pian anywhere near this good on either coast.

                  2. Steamed pork belly with seasoned rice powder served over a bed of potatoes.

                  I've seen this on the menu at Red Pepper in Framingham, but they never actually had it and now they've removed it. It's common to find spareribs steamed with rice powder, but this is meltingly delicious pork belly doused with some Sichuan chili bean paste.

                  3. Steamed fish with rice power served on the deep fried crunchy and delicious corpse of the fish.

                  4. Sichuan style stir-fried pork belly, tossed (literally) with sweet peppers, leeks, and hot spices until it's crispy on the edges.

                  5. Taiwanese minced fish (with ground pork.) Sounds humble, but is an excellent pile of finely chopped and well balanced ingredients.

                  I've never been a fan of tofu; the tofu dishes I've had here were no better than the usual. Fortunately there are only three! BUT I'm not sure I've had the pocket tofu that Steve recommends, because it's described as "tofu mousse" and I'll give Chef the benefit of the doubt if tofu were being used as an ingredient, rather than a flavorless substance taking the place of flavorful substances.

                  I found the fish noodles more interesting than they were flavorful, and they're awfully pricey, but they're worth having at least once. A few things, such as the quail, have struck me as fairly ordinary, but for the most part, and with the notable exception of Hunan Taste, which is equally excellent in a different way, everything I've tried at GG here is at least as good, and usually MUCH better, than a similar dish elsewhere.

                  Chef Li really is that good.

                  SO, that's my five. There are other excellent choices which I never have since I can't get enough of my favorites, such as the beef with pickled cabbage and pork with mu-choy. The soft tendon was excellent if you don't mind the texture. Chef was trained in Hong Kong, so I'd expect all the seafood dishes to be first-rate. I just had the "vermicelli with [lots of] pork and pepper" which is his interpretation of Ants Climbing Trees, and it was excellent--again an interpretation that goes FAR beyond its typical implementation as a bowl of noodles with a tablespoon of meat if you're lucky.

                  If you can order in advance you have a few more choices. The pipa duck (a roast-y duck with lots of crispiness) was excellent, as were the Phoenix Purses. And the eight treasure steamed duck is also worth mentioning, though I've never had it because you have to order it ahead and I can't ever get anyone in DC to actually commit to anything in advance, but I might just order a whole one myself the next time I'm in town.

                  Note that they're Christian and are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, Sundays, and two weeks in early January, and close at 9PM on weeknights. Arrive early if you want to order the fish with crispy bones, since the bones take half an hour to cook.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KWagle
                    GraydonCarter Nov 24, 2012 03:21 PM

                    On Saturday nights they close starting at 9:30PM except for take-out 'til 10.

                    1. re: GraydonCarter
                      KWagle Nov 26, 2012 02:50 PM

                      Considering how slow they are after 9 and how hard they work, I can't be to unhappy about this, even though it put an end to my usual routine of heading over at 9 after thrift shopping.

                  2. curioussheridan Nov 21, 2012 07:03 AM

                    Sichuan Triple Treasures, any pork belly dish, the smoky shrimp dish, mapo dofu (ask for extra ma la), tea smoked duck. Steve, what is pipa duck?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: curioussheridan
                      s
                      Steve Nov 21, 2012 10:02 AM

                      Yo have to special order it. it is a pressed whole duck. Good stuff, but they need a couple of days notice. I believe there is a wiki page on it. Has to be , right?

                      1. re: Steve
                        curioussheridan Nov 21, 2012 10:38 AM

                        Pressed duck with what flavors? I'm excited

                    2. GraydonCarter Nov 20, 2012 08:06 PM

                      pork with rice powder

                      1. monkeyrotica Nov 20, 2012 07:16 AM

                        Fish noodles, whole fish (done any way), order the smoked duck 2 days in advance.

                        1. h
                          hon Nov 20, 2012 06:37 AM

                          Sichuan Fish Filets and Sichuan Triple Treasures are a must!

                          1. s
                            Steve Nov 20, 2012 05:28 AM

                            Grace Garden No S.

                            Fish noodles, spicy tofu pockets, whole crispy flounder (photo attached, take this with you and show it to them so you make sure to get the right dish), at lest one day in advance order the Pheonix Purse, taiwanese fish, pipa duck (pressed duck, order at least two days in advance, this is not on the menu.)

                            Ok, that's six dishes.

                            http://gracegardenchinese.com/menu.html

                            click on link for full Chinese menu.

                            1. d
                              dining with doc Nov 20, 2012 04:55 AM

                              Fish noodles, fried whole fish, tea smoked duck, Phoenix purse, crispy eggplant

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