Chelsea | 229 9th Avenue (@24th St.) | NYC, NY | 212-620-5200
Subway C, E (23rd Street) | 1 (23rd Street)
Web Grand Sichuan
Yesterday, after a hot day in the city, a friend I decided to go on an eating binge. Our restaurant of choice was Grand Sichuan since there are so many things we haven't tried there yet. We got to Grand Sichuan at about 6:45pm and snagged the very last table in the place. After that a small line formed with people eagerly awaiting tables and Chinese delicacies.
Grand Sichuan was very crowded tonight and the service was friendly but not attentive. It took a very long time for us to get our first dish (Soup Dumplings). That was odd because it is usually very fast. I noticed that a table of people who arrived after us were already well on their way through their meal even before our starter arrived.
On our quest to try something new. I ordered the Crab/Pork Soup Dumplings. My friend has had these but I never tried them. He says that the soup dumplings at Grand Sichuan aren't the best in the city, but they are still pretty good. I really liked them. What's a Soup Dumpling? It's a steamed dumpling which is filled with meat and very hot flavorful broth. You put the whole thing in your mouth and when you bite you get an explosion of broth. Hopefully you let them cook down first, otherwise you can really burn your mouth! A great new experience for me!
[now for the good stuff]
For our first entree we got the "Red Cooking Pork & Chestnut" ($9.95) which is on their list of "Mao's Home Cooking". I am trying to picture Chairman Mao in a red apron with a wok in one hand and little red cookbook in the other. When we ordered our server asked, "Would you like lean pork or fatty pork?" She explained that the lean pork was more dry, as she wrinkled her nose to gesture that this was not her style. Being good health conscious diners, we choose the lean pork but then just before our server left our table we decided to be bad and went for the fatty pork. Our waitress raised her eyebrow with pleasure is said, "You will like". What the hell.
When the dish arrived, the appearance was a lot different than anything I ever had at a Chinese restaurant. We knew we were in for a treat. There were chunks of fatty pork, sort of like a cross between spare rib meat and fatty unsmoked bacon. The meat was mounded a top fresh spinach greens with a few chestnuts mixed in. All this was in a tasty broth. Its a shame there weren't more chestnuts because they were delicious!
Shortly after our first dish arrived it was topped with our second dish, Gui Zhou Spicy Chicken ($8.95). I have seen 2 spelling of this dish (Aui Zhau and Gui Zhau). I don't know all the specifics, but Grand Sichuan prides themselves on making their chicken dishes with fresh killed chickens. Was that the noise I heard in the kitchen? The dish presented to us looks savory and beautiful and is bits of chicken with a caramelized red color. I immediately reach across my chopstick and try a piece. One in my mouth it seemed sweet and had a soft spicy flavor. Very nice. Then comes the heat. The spice in this was a 4 alarm fire starting with a burning taste, then a hot bitter aftertaste on the back of my tongue, immediately followed with a sweet mouthful of rice to cool it off. Then repeat! This is a delicious dish but obviously made for people who desire the taste of hot red dried chili's. I believe that the way they get this so hot is to saute the dried hot red chili's in oil until charred, then they add the chicken. There were a few pieces of Chinese vegetables in the dish, but that was secondary to the meat. Seriously its a good dish but very spicy. The chicken had a great taste but I think if I order this again I might ask them to tone down the spice!
The third dish (yes third) we ordered was the Dry & Sauteed String Beans with Minced Pork ($7.55). This is a simple dish of fresh string beans sauteed in soy sauce and garlic with minced pork. It was a huge dish and could have served 4 people with normal eating habits, but we ate the whole delectable dish. A classic!
When all was said and done, we walked away with the roofs of our mouths burnt from the soup dumplings, belly's full of pork fat and our lips red hot and burning from the spicy chicken.
"What now?" I asked my friend, he replied, "Lets go to Chicalicious". OK! I can never turn down a good dessert.