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Jing Chuan- A New Schezwan Star in Hazlet!!

I was lucky enough to attend the Chowhound meet up at this wonderful restaurant yesterday with an excellent group of spicy food lovers, Taste Test, Evelyn and Mark, (Mr and Mrs Name Tag), Tapas52 and the spice master himself, the world famous Equal Mark!

The company was terrific as we were all drawn here for the same reason: Our love for food, especially spicy Schezwan style food.

We had a wonderful table in the back of the restaurant and the owner took fantastic care of us. Here is a cut and paste of our menu selections from Taste Test's post about our lunch from another thread along with my thoughts on the food:

Appetizers:

Sichuan Pork Dumplings- These are house made and wonderful!
Dan Dan Noodles- I think our crowd agreed these were good but not fantastic.
Steamed Juice Bun (on menu) "soup dumplings"- Xio Long Bao: The version presented here were out of this world. They are made fresh in house. The skin was thin and the broth wonderful!
Bang-Bang Chicken: This was amazing! Spicy, with perfect texture, this dish was the star of our first course.
Ox Tendon: This dish, suggested by Taste Test herself was awesome..chewy, a little gamy, spicy, yummy!

Mains:

Ants Climbing a Tree: Every table seems to have this clear noodle dish on their table, and for good reason. Delicate light noodles infused with Schezwan spices, this noodle dish was wonderful!
Spicy Volcano Chicken- Served on a dish that's been constantly heated by a flame beneath, this chicken dish had tons of not only chicken, but vegetables and mushrooms.
Sliced Lamb with Cumin- If you don't like the flavor of Cumin, don't order this one....infused with cumin flavor, the lamb was tender as could be. The funny thing about this dish was, it was sneaky spicy...the spice actually crept up on you.
Pea Shoots: When we finished ordering our mains, the owner suggested we needed a vegetable to go with what we ordered. These pea shoots with a lot of garlic were perfect. Light, and delicious!
Sliced Angus Steak with Tofu- This dish was also selected by the owner as "her favorite dish" on the menu. The steak was ok, but the tofu on this dish was creamy and thick. Totally amazing!
Dry Sauteed Diced Chicken with Triple Pepper: When asked what the spiciest dish on the menu was, she said this was it. So of course we had to order this one too. This one sat in the middle of our table on the lazy Susan- it made us reach for it when we wanted it. First taste and it was amazing...crunchy, salty flavorful...but just not that spicy...well, not that spicy yet, until the schezwan peppers hit....this is was described at our table as mouth numbing! I loved it...and I suspect everyone at the table did too.

It was a wonderful meal with great people! I highly suggest that if you love spicy food, you get to Jing Chuan, the new Schezwan star in Hazlet.

By the way, yes they make non spicy food and American Chinese as well. But the reason to go out of your way to come here is their authentic Schezwan cuisine which is made with care, and a lot of pride. The prices are VERY reasonable for the high quality of their food.

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  1. Sockster great review & as described a wonderful Chowhound Style good Time!!!!

    1. For what it's worth, there seems to be very little overlap in authentic dishes between Jing Chuan and Sichuan Cottage. And the Dry Sauteed Chicken (Ma La Chicken) at Jing Chuan is a different dish in Chinese characters than the Three Pepper Chicken at Sichuan Cottage. (I forgot to show everyone the "Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters" book which has stood us in good stead [ISBN 0226555925].)

      Clearly, we have to do at least one ChowDown at Sichuan Cottage to compare! :-)

      1. Aww man I keep missing the awesome Chow gatherings!! :(

        1 Reply
        1. Went back the other night. It was freezing and snowy, and the place was almost empty.

          In my opinion, the xio long boa were BETTER than my favorites of Shanghai Bun. These had thin skins, with plenty of soup. They were amazing. They told me they're made in house. The ant's climbing a tree were great again, I think they made them native spicy- they were HOT!! but you could taste the noodles. Also went back for the bang bang chicken- it too was spicy as could be, but oh so delicious!!

          The family that owns this restaurant is humble as could be and I think don't know how phenomenal a restaurant they have here.

          Fellow Chowhounders, I urge you to support this place. It's the bomb when it comes to this type of cuisine. \

          One more note: They told me many times, they could make the food non spicy.....so if you don't like spice, this place a place you should try.

          1. We ordered take out this week from Jing Chuan after your group ventured out and raved.

            We had their scallion pancakes, shrimp toast, pan fried pork dumplings, sliced lamb with cumin, ants climbing a tree (after all the raves we just had to) and the Spicy Volcano Chicken. With the exception of the shrimp toast (which was a bit too mushy) we really loved everything. Great value too.

            Next time we'll eat in.

            1. Anyone game for doing lunch here this Saturday (17 May), say around 1pm?

              19 Replies
                  1. re: eleeper

                    Got a bachelor party Saturday :(

                  2. re: equal_Mark

                    Sorry guys- I'm out this weekend. Been here a bunch of times since our last CH meet. Food is still great (and really spicy)!! Enjoy!!

                    1. re: equal_Mark

                      With all the turn-downs, I'm going to assume it's not on for tomorrow (Saturday). (I won't be reading the forum between now and then, so I have to decide now.)

                      1. re: eleeper

                        I guess it's down to 2 of us...

                        Weird thing is I'm looking at the menu on their website and it doesn't have any of the dishes we ordered last time. No appetizers, no soup dumplings. What's with that?

                        http://www.jingchuanhazlet.com/

                        1. re: equal_Mark

                          Mark- the soup dumplings are still on there- under hot appetizers. Sorry I can't make it....next time..

                          1. re: sockster

                            That's OK, I figured out the menu issue, and this is becoming more of a problem for me as I maintain a website that lists restaurant websites: More and more places maintain multiple websites and Facebook pages that do not agree with each other.

                            In this case Jing Chuan has 2 websites:

                            http://www.jingchuanhazlet.com/

                            And

                            http://www.jingchuan36.com/

                            The former offers online ordering and only lists standard Chinese American stuff, the latter lists the Sichuan specialties as well as Chef selected items. I won't even get into the Facebook listings.

                            Whatever. We'll be there for lunch tomorrow and wish we had been able to give more of an advanced notice of the meal. That be life!

                            1. re: equal_Mark

                              Enjoy look forward to your reviews.

                              1. re: Tapas52

                                Lunch was wonderful! Here's a pic of our leftovers...

                                 
                                1. re: Tapas52

                                  That is possibly the worst review i have ever read...

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    I guess you had to be there... Literally.

                                      1. re: Tapas52

                                        Since it was only my second visit, and I had brought someone who had never been there, we pretty much stuck to what had been tried and true in the OP above.

                                        First of all, after being seated we were given only the "Rube Menu." Not being interested in chicken chow mein or beef & broccoli I asked for the Sichuan menu. The atmosphere brightened noticeably...

                                        When I asked about the soup dumplings and mentioned "Xio Long Bao" the waitress exclaimed "You speak Chinese!" to which my companion rolled her eyes and added "He's been saving that up..." The order was placed and we continued by ordering the Bang Bang Chicken, the Dry Sauteed Chicken with Triple pepper, and our only departure from the first meal, the Tea Smoked Duck. Everything was great, the food was nicely spiced (even though I had forgotten to request it be made extra spicy).

                                        One slight down note was the Duck, which though was moist, crispy, tender and smokey, was rather on the bland side. Of course it was not described as spicy but was the only duck we could find on the menu and my companion had a hankerin' for duck.

                                        The place was surprisingly empty compared to the last visit with only a couple other tables, and the staff pretty much outnumbered the customers. Still we were fussed over like family and at one point as one of the servers helped scoop some of the remaining Bang Bang Chicken onto my plate & I mumbled "Thanks mom," at which she giggled. I'm hoping I did not commit some major cultural faux pas...

                                        There being only 2 of us so we were unable to finish the entrees, but did remark on a couple menu items that piqued our interest and will likely try on our next visit (the diced chicken with peanuts, Szechuan peppers and spicy black vinegar sauce in particular caught my eye).

                                        Maybe next time with a little more advanced warning we can gather up a larger crowd...

                                        1. re: equal_Mark

                                          Good review Mark....glad you enjoyed it!

                                          1. re: equal_Mark

                                            Mark, this is kind of loaded question, but what did the sichuan menu look like? Was it pages long or just a short version? I am trying to figure out what menu I got last time. The one I had was pages long but had both the "americanized" stuff and the sichuan dishes. Maybe they just combined them both. Early on they have a giant menu with tons of pictures but they seems to have done away with that.

                                            On the menu last time they had Peking duck. Did you see that by chance?

                                            1. re: corvette johnny

                                              The menu we first got had only the Americanized dishes. The one we were given after asking for the Sichuan dishes can be seen at:

                                              http://www.jingchuan36.com/Menu.html

                                              Note: this website does not appear when you Google "Jing Chuan Hazlet."

                                              This menu also has Americanized dishes but includes Sichuan choices in the Hot & Cold appetizers as well as a separate section of Sichuan specialties near the back.

                                              1. re: equal_Mark

                                                Ah I see. The peking duck is still on there. I think I might give that a shot next.

                                                Mark, if you are a duck fan I'd highly recommend the basil duck at Kunya Siam in Atlantic Highlands. I think you will love it. I ask for it extra crispy and they deliver.

                                  2. re: equal_Mark

                                    Mark they definitely have a new menu. The old one with lots of pictures is gone. I had some kind of spicy lamb dish last time the owner recommended. It was very good and came in this pot with a sterno type fire

                          2. I wonder if this place has frog legs? I had some killer frogs legs in Vegas at this place my Chinese coworker took me to. I didn't think those little guys could be so tasty

                            1. I had some delicious peking duck here last night. I got the whole duck and split it with my wife. It comes with 8 of the pancakes. It was just too much to eat. It is so rich that next time I will get a half to share with her. Try this dish out guys....good stuff!

                              The juice buns were tasty as usual. I tried the shredded pork and pickled cabbage soup and that was pretty bland. Fried dumplings were spot on.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: corvette johnny

                                It's funny, the last two times I was here (to show off how good those juicy buns are), they were undercooked- leaving the wrappers gummy. I almost swore off the place because of that.

                                I think the problem is that while they have a great chef, they just don't have enough business- thereby not enough turnover of the food. Shanghai Bun on the other hand is constantly making Xiao Long Bao, thus they're always fresh, hot, and perfectly cooked.

                                1. re: sockster

                                  last night all the tables on the right side (as you walk in) were filled. We got the last one. Then there were 2 on the left so they had some business...not packed but good to see some customers. I do like the food there.

                                  1. re: corvette johnny

                                    I'm curious about how many of their customers are ordering off the Sichuan menu as you have to specifically ask for it. Turnover of the Soup Dumplings and other Sichuan dishes may be an issue if most of the patrons are ordering chicken chow mein and beef & broccoli.

                                    1. re: equal_Mark

                                      Mark...They just give me sichuan menu when I walk in. They might recognize me though and realize I eat that. I forgot to ask about the frogs legs.

                              2. I finally made it to this place and it didn't disappoint. I had many of the dishes mentioned here, but I don't think anyone mentioned the minced pork with Szechuan pickled string beans. This dish is just amazing. I would highly recommend it. Especially when added with the pea shoots and garlic, dry sautéed chicken with triple peppers, and mapo tofu. You really please all of your taste buds with these four.

                                1. Have had an art opening scheduled inKeyport for the evening of Aug 1 for over a month now. Thought it would be a perfect time to peruse some more menu offerings at Jing Chuan prior to the 8pm scheduled opening (have had my eye on the Diced Chicken with Peanuts, Sechuan Peppers and Spicy Black Vinegar Sauce).

                                  Arrived just after 6pm to find a dark space with a sign proclaiming "Closed for Renovation"

                                  Ahhh, the best laid plans...

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                    Did you happen to peek inside to see anything happening?

                                    1. re: corvette johnny

                                      Nah, it was pretty dark and the dining room is pretty deep.

                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        I know they were having problems- They just weren't busy enough even with their great food. It'll be interesting to see if they reopen.

                                        1. re: sockster

                                          I think part of their problem was that their 'great food' started to become less great almost as quick as it became great.

                                          1. re: Herm

                                            Hard to stay great with few customers unfortunately. Even their Xiao Long Bao, which were amazing when I went there the first few times were fantastic and so soupy- and lately, they've been underwhelming at best- gummy with almost no soup.

                                            1. re: sockster

                                              You know sockster, I wish I could retract my last statement. In fairness, I only had ordered take out, never ate in house. Honestly, it did seem like the food wasn't as good. At least, although different, we still have Shanghai Bun.

                                      1. re: equal_Mark

                                        I guess closed for renovations is better then closed for good? maybe they are downsizing it was a hugh space?
                                        or relocating somewhere else?

                                        1. re: Tapas52

                                          Phone of of service is a pretty good sign they're closed for good. (Ruby Palace also had a "Closed for Renovation" sign up for a while--in fact I think it directed you to Jing Chuan!--and it's pretty clearly defunct as well.

                                          Luckily, Sichuan Cottage seems to be doing okay.

                                          1. re: eleeper

                                            Sichuan Cottage just doesn't seem to have the same divirsity of selections that Jing Chuan had.

                                            1. re: equal_Mark

                                              When I want real deal Sichuan I go to
                                              Han Dynasty.....

                                              http://handynasty.net/

                                              I'll miss Jing Chuan but Shanghai Bun & 4 Season Thai are my other go to places for great authentic Asian cuisine.

                                              1. re: Tapas52

                                                I agree that Han Dynasty is a go to destination for Sichuan food, but is just too darn far away for me to go to. :-(