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Where's the Happening Midtown Sichuan Right Now?

I properly appreciated Szechuan Gourmet and Lan Sheng in their day, but both strike me as sadly downhill.

So where's the good midtown Sichuan right now (I mean sit-down, not Xi'an)?

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  1. SG was great at lunch 4 weeks ago. Have you tried Hunan Manor on Lexington?

    1 Reply
    1. re: knucklesandwich

      I hadn't been to Lan Sheng in about 6 months and this thread prompted me to head back last Saturday night. We had the dan dan noodles, the braised pork, stir fried streaky pork with spicy capsicum, and string beans with bamboo shoots.

      Everything was terrific, among the best in the city. Remarkably good. Right up there with Little Pepper in College Point.

      I need to make a point of getting back to Szechuan Gourmet. It's been way too long.

    2. SG on West 56th St.is still very good.

      I also like the Sichuan dishes at Wu Liang Ye on West 48th St. and Ollie's on West 42nd St.

      1. Land of plenty(though it's been hit or miss these days) and newly opened Hot Kitchen on 53rd street.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Monica

          i've found the original EV Hot Kitchen to be pretty bad...what is 53rd St like?

          1. re: Simon

            I am going there next monday or tuesday. will report back.

            1. re: Monica

              I went to Hot Kitchen during their soft open (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969001) and went back again two weekends ago for dinner.

              On my second visit with my DC, we got:
              1. hot+sour soup, large $5 - did not have the white pepper kick it had on our visit, and more noticeably, was served in a much smaller bowl, we each only got one full bowl

              2. Steamed Pork w/Preserved Mustard Greens w/gua bao buns $18 - 10-12 slices of fatty pork belly, each about 1/6" thick or so, each 4" wide, all on a large bed of stewed+chopped mustard greens, comes w/4 bao. The fatty portion of each slice was perfect, meltingly soft and tender. The meat portion was a dry but in combination with the fat, was still quite good. Went well inside of a bun.

              3. Assorted Spicy Wok $28 - they take every type of hot pot ingredient that they offer basically, and boil it for you - they said it was going to be stir fried but given how the proteins and vegetables looked and tasted, it was definitely boiled. Plenty of food but nothing I'd ever do again

              4. Sauteed Cured Dry Bean Curd w/Garlic Shoots $14 - fairly smoky tofu 'gan', lots of garlic sprouts cut into short 1.5" segments, and likely using a more grown size as the pieces were about 1/2" wide flat, relatively mild though. Thought this dish was very tasty but also nothing to be impressed over.

              There's still a lot of menu to go including the Northwest section of the menu which I have yet to touch except for the cumin lamb.

              Will try to post some pics of the takeout menu tomorrow since the updated menu for this location is not online yet and it is reflective of the full menu except for dessert which they only offer western desserts like tiramisu and creme brulee (if memory serves).

              We also noticed that they seemed to have trimmed the prices a little bit, a dollar or two at most on random items based on memory from the previous visit.

          2. re: Monica

            I don't think Hot kitchen is the kind of place you want to go for lunch specials which we did...they were just ok, a bit too salty too. Land of plenty has better food, selection and price for lunch specials. I saw a lot of Chinese people with interesting looking dishes including hot pot..none ordered anything from lunch special. I definitely want to try their hot pot next time as it looked good and fresh. Others ordered interesting looking stew/soup kind of dishes that also looked good.

            1. re: Monica

              Agreed on the too much salt issue, totally forgot to mention it. Both times I've been, I've noticed that it seemed a tick too salty, have yet to try the original EV location but wonder if the same issue plagues them as well.

              1. re: avial

                Why do you guys play games with Sichuan Cuisine...Szechuan Gourmet on 39th is the nexus.

          3. Same place it has been for years. Szechuan Gourmet 39th street

            1. SG on 56th used to be more consistent; I've had some disappointments there lately, but also some good food.

              1. La vie en Szechuan for my money is better than SG.

                4 Replies
                1. re: JC2

                  Not based on my meal. We were a large group and ordered lots of dishes. The food was variable - hits and misses. SG and Lan Sheng are more consistent and execute on a higher level. I'm not saying you're wrong, just stating another opinion.

                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                    I know others who agree with you - definitely an opinion issue. we were also a large group - love the dan dan noodles. Have not tried Lan Sheng. Next on my list.

                      1. re: MVNYC

                        We were a big group and the person who organized the dinner did all the ordering. It was sometimes tough to figure out what particular dishes were.

                        I remember the diced rabbit app had bone fragments in it. Unpleasant. The mapo tofu was sort of bland.

                        I'm looking at the on line menu now and nothing is screaming "you had me!"

                        My overall impression was a lot of muddy flavors. Not terrible by any means but when I go to a new place I'm looking for things that are distinctive - either something great that I never had before or superior versions of old favorites. I thought this was definitely a 2nd tier place although one or two dishes were actually pretty good.

                        There's a major caveat to this judgement - I didn't get to pick any of the dishes. There were a number of things on the menu that I wouldn't mind trying.

                        I might be underrating the place but I can only report on the things we were served.

                  2. I really like cafe china and mapo tofu

                    1 Reply