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Lan Sheng or Szechuan Gourmet

Crazy as it sounds i'm going to be delivering takeout from one of these restaurants to about 10 friends in vermont suffering from cabin fever and mud season. i've eaten at both once and both have their virtues, with lan sheng seeming to use more szechuan pepper, and maybe better quality meat at gourmet. but both were excellent. any suggestions out there.

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  1. To Vermont??

    Are there no subpar Sichuan restaurants in Vermont?

    Personally, I'd probably go with Szechuan Gourmet just because I think they make better white rice.

    3 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        i have to admit, whenever someone mentions rice, i immediately think of that guy who asked for rice at a Japanese restaurant...upperwestmayor or something like that.

        1. re: Monica

          Hahaha! Same here! I think its "uesmayor" though....maybe he can weigh in on the rice situation at these two....

      2. not a one, but lots of subpar cantonese. shall i mail you some?

        1 Reply
        1. i'd be interested in your reasons?

          1. Szechuan dishes are among the easiest and quickest things in the world to cook and 95 percent of the ingredients can be found in any American supermarket. Rather than haul low-grade food hundreds of miles (your car is going to smell like the inside of a garbage can) and reheat it, why not go to a good Chinese market and pick up the spices and maybe some a few exotic items like dried mushrooms or water chestnuts or jellyfish, and -- you know, teach a hungry man to fish?

            I realize that a good deal of Chowhound queries inevitably are going to be about where to conveniently find in restaurants affordable and acceptable versions of dishes most adults actually know how to cook better at home (BURGERS, folks?) but it is easier to cook up Szechuan food the equal of Lan Sheng or Szechuan Gourmet than it is to hard boil an egg. Seriously. Google up some recipes.

            10 Replies
            1. re: kmzed

              can you give a few examples of easy to make Szechuan dishes? I'd love to make some but don't know where to start.

              1. re: Monica

                Well, dan dan mian is awfully easy.

                For a very beginner version, you can simply mix peanut butter (yes, peanut butter!), black vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil, and some crushed peppercorn (which you can buy at markets) to make the sauce. Add sugar to taste (optional).

                For the meat, simply saute some ground pork with minced ginger and garlic and some peanut oil, and a bit of salt to taste.

                Mix the sauce with the noodles, then top with the ground pork, garnish with a bit of chopped green onions and crushed peanuts before serving.

                Voila, you just made yourself a $6 bowl of noodles.

                There are also pre-packed MaPo Tofu seasonings you can buy at Chinese markets, where all you really need are the tofu and some basic condiments.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  awsome! what is black vinegar? can I use regular vinegar?

                  1. re: Monica

                    Sure, you can use just about any type of vinegar (except maybe basalmic).

                    Here's more info on black vinegar, which is just a type of rice vinegar.
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rice_vin...

                    Just remember, dan dan mian at its very core is peasant food. And every grandma from here to Sichuan has their own "authentic" version. Sort of like American Chili.

                    Here's a nice step-by-step guide, but feel free to substitute. You'll end up making your own version and someday post it on the Home Cooking board, boasting about how you've just improved dan dan mian for the masses.

                    http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/d...

              2. re: kmzed

                Stop talking out of your butt. You can't cook what I eat at Szechuan Gourmet. And gringos trying to cook chinese is a sure fire epic fail. Vermont is only a few hours, it's fine. Szechuan Gourmet makes Lan Sheng look like the B team

                1. re: AubWah

                  sg it is. thanks. what dishes would you recommend. the vemont destination is 5.5 hrs away. the people to whom i'm bring the meal are adventurous but inexperienced in szechuan food. probably not ready for tripe and duck tongue. i thought mapo tofu would be a great intro to mala, lamb with cumin, a pork belly dish. i love their whole fish preparations, but dont think they would travel. what do you think might be good. bt, i also tried famous szechuan and 10 pell and was disappointed. it didnt compare to the 39th st offerings.

                  1. re: tallenvt

                    Mapo tofu, snow pea shoot with garlic, water cooked lamb, the red oil wontons actually reheat pretty well. The beef tendon is a great dish and has a lot of ma la flavor, it is a cold dish and will travel well, when heated it changes consistency and still tastes great, the cold cucumber dish travels well, twice cooked pork will reheat well. I would have a fresh bunch of cilantro on hand because cilantro does not travel well and you'll want to "refresh" the dishes with cilantro.

                    You might want to consider putting the food in a cooler with some ice.

                    1. re: Pookipichu

                      thanks. great suggestions. this is fun. i'm going to try to pick the food up at 11.30 if they can do it that early, anyone have any experience with a large order--12 or so dishes being ready that early. i am assuming that seemless or other delivery service cannot be counted on and that i should pick up the food on my way out of town.

                2. re: kmzed

                  I am not questioning your ability to cook, but as a cook, in my experience, Szechuan cooking is not as easy as boiling an egg. Good Szechuanese food takes quite a bit of skill, and some dishes are labor intensive/time intensive. Out of the cuisines I cook, I find Chinese to be the most difficult.

                  In my opinion, your statement definitely holds more true for the burgers you mention, making a great burger is pretty simple, as is steak, marinara sauce, but I wouldn't include red oil wontons, three pepper chicken, hui guo pork, beef tendon in chili oil, tangerine beef, cumin lamb etc. etc.

                  1. re: kmzed

                    Thanks for that. It's one of the funniest posts I've ever read on CH. Brilliant.

                    You've only been posting for a month but already you're one of my favorite posters.

                  2. actually, i am bringing back ingredients, but this is for the fun of it, and as a thank you to some people who will enjoy the thought a much as/more than the food. some dishes like mapo tofu reheat beautifully, whole fish...not so much. so i will choose carefully. do you have another suggestion for takeout of 'exotic' food that will survive a 5-hr drive?

                    1. and, of course, i wont be bringing rice, but rather cooking my own when i get to vt, since that does not reheat well at all.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tallenvt

                        I would be very happy if someone brought up some good Szechuan food to me in Vermont. You're a good friend, I would go with gourmet but its close both places are good. Also many of the cold dishes should be more than fine, I love leftover ox tongue and tripe for breakfast.

                        1. re: MVNYC

                          thanks. any dished to recommend that might be a little less challenging for the szechuan initiated?

                      2. I think you are an awesome friend to do this!!
                        Stay away from anything fried that will become soggy, and if you are getting a soup ask they pack the noodles or wontons seperate so they don't turn soggy.
                        Your car will totally smell like chinese for weeks but whatever. You should probably crack the containers open so that the warm food doesn't create condensation and steam the food further.
                        At szechuan gourmet i like the smoked tofu shreds with celery app a lot, the braised whole fish would travel much better than the "crispy" preparation, and ma pao tofu should survive the journey fine. The braised assorted mushroom casserole is waaay better than it sounds and would also reheat well.
                        I would also bring with some good soy sauce and cheap bubbly to drink :)