Tuesday, July 06, 2004

The Grand Sichuan

125 Canal St @ Manhattan Bridge, 212-625-9212


Cost per person: $12
"YGWYPF" factor: 9/10 (you get what you pay for)

Bored of the riff-raff, the West Village and the Lower East? Want something that's true-to-form exotic, a place where pointing at the menu at random can get you things that you've not only never seen before, but also makes you hope you would never see again? Walk right into this place, next to the Buddhist monastery and the bus ticket area on Canal Street. Did I mention a great view to the Manhattan Bridge?

So - once you are in and seated in the fast food decor, what do you do? Oh yes, you order the food. Here comes the tricky part. When I go here with my colleagues from the Sichuan province, all is well, and I am basking in the good side of exotica, each dish competing with the other and stimulating tastes I have never encountered before. When I land up with a bunch of my friends, and take on the responsibility to order, having forgotten all about the previous orders (which were made in Mandarin anyway), I end up with one of the worst meals I have paid for to date.

Which is to say, in simple words, beware. To make things easy for you, and to help me remember what I ordered here last time, here are a few suggestions, with the item numbers from the take out menu. Start with #8, Sichuan Wonton w. Red Oil - that's the spiciest wonton in town. That'll help you set the expectations in spicy levels for the rest of the meal. Follow with a cold dish - either #19, Beef Tendon w. Hot & Wild Pepper Sauce, or #16, Ox Tongue & Tripe w. Chili Sauce. Tried the beef tendons last time - never tasted tendons before, and this was a great first experience. Thin-cut, tastes somewhat like lotus roots, and cooked really nice and spicy - the "hot and wild" sauce has much better taste than the hot oil, which is just hot. Unless you really like cold chicken drumsticks chopped up and served with a dip on the side, avoid anything with "Chunk Chicken". Follow the appetizers up with something like #76, Sauteeed Pork Tripe w. Parsley. For vegetables, I recommend #96, Shredded Potato w. Green Pepper. For the adventurous, try #101, Sauteed Baby Bamboo Shoots - it's a very interesting dish, but I can't have too much of it, so I like to try this out only when in a large group. Also recommended, from the Chef's Specialities, are #C12, Spicy Double Cooked Pork, and #C15, Braised Beef Fillet w. Brown Sauce. From the Mao Ze Dong Style, try #M17, Sauteed Cured Pork w. Scallion, and #M23, Sauteed Shredded Pepper w. Hunan Black Bean. The last one is my favorite - spicy as hell, this is the only dish I have come across that has hot green peppers taking the place of vegetables. Unless you have burnt tastebuds, you would not be able to have more than a fourth of this dish, so make sure you are in the company of fire eaters when you try this dish. If you like spicy, you will not be disappointed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kundan,
Nice to know that beef in America tastes so Good!!!

Feb 22, 2006, 12:00:00 AM  

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