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Midtown South / Chelsea >
Posted by Ubu Walker, A Szechuan Food Fan on 08/07/2008
I was very excited to try the food here after reading the NY Times review. Unfortunately, it doesn't compare to the Szechuan cuisine I've had in NJ at Chengdu 1 or Chengdu 23. I ordered take-out over the phone and was disappointed at the mediocrity. First of all, the place was packed at 12pm, and the poor girls behind the counter could barely keep up with orders and customers. What should have been a 2 minute transaction was a 5 minute hassle. Secondly, the food itself was good, but not amazing. $7 for a mid-town lunch is great, so its a good value. I ordered the double-cooked sliced pork belly with chili leeks. It was tasty...probably due to the large amount of pork fat that I didn't eat. However, the level of spiciness was extremely low. And there was too much chili oil. I got a slight tingle which is disappointing. its supposed to be a hot dish. But no Szechuan Peppercorn flavor at all. I wanted a little bit of numbness. The biggest failings happened around the edges. My brown rice was burnt. Completely unacceptable. And the wonton soup was subpar. The wonton wrapper was thick and the soup itself wasn't salty or tasty enough. It should have been, since it was dark brown and not chicken stock colored..
Posted by Anonymous on 07/06/2008
I think the people who have posted bad reviews have been ordering the wrong thing, or are expecting the waitstaff to clean their hands for them with 100% ermine cloths. I went there today for the first time with some friends. We ordered the braised fish fillets with napa cabbage and chilli, sichuan dumpings, the cucumber salad, five-spiced tofu with chives and steamed spinach with garlic. The cucumber came first and was superb. The sauce had about 5 levels of different flavors as you chewed - mild garlic, some peppercorns, the heat of the hot oil. But crunchy and refreshing due to the fresh raw cucumber. The fish fillets were not as hot as I expected but were excellent, if a little shy on actual fish. The veggies underneath yielded some pleasant surprises including tiny tender enochi mushrooms, spring bamboo shoots, and chinese celery. The fish was tender and delicious. The tofu was a disarmingly simple dish. A sort of dried cured tofu spiced with five-spice powder and served with yellow chives, everything cut to the exact same proportions. Very little additional seasoning or sauce to this dish, just the tofu, chives and a lovely smoky-wok flavor imparted during preparation. Simple and delicious. The steamed spinach, often a letdown, was tender and completely grit-free. There were the tiniest hints of star anise to be found and the garlic had been sauteed with salt first leaving just-browned slivers of salty garlic mixed into the completely un-salty spinach. The sichuan dumplings were the best Ive ever had. The skins were nearly translucent and completely even in texture - not one piece too soft or dried out. The sauce was a very unique combination of sweetness and spiceness, loaded with sichuan peppercorns but less chilli than I expected. The dishes came with incredible rapidity - we were there around 5pm on a saturday. Maybe things are a bit slower when theyre more crowded. By the time we left though the place was packed. The service was quite decent, we had trouble flagging waiters when we really needed them, but once you get their attention the waitstaff is very helpful. Empty dishes were taken promptly, water and tea refilled instantaneously and without request and everyone was about as good-natured as they could be considering the language barrier. All said, I think the food here is superior to grand sichuan AND wu liang ye.
Posted by The truth on 06/27/2008
Don't listen to the complainers. Anyone I've taken who knows chinese or Szechuan food has raved. The food is fresh, spicy, good. It's not Le Berndadin service but everyone is friendly. Best Szechuan in manhattan.
Posted by Maribelle on 06/12/2008
My co-workers and I were craving chinese food and passed by this place. We thought the food would be really good since the place looked really nice, and there were many people waiting for their food/get seated. We were so wrong. Everything was poor, maybe except the rice. I never thought chinese food could ever be like this. The soup was so bland, the wontons were undercooked. The spicy chicken tasted like nothing. My co-worker took a bite of her chicken egg roll and spit it out right away. We will never go back to this place.
Posted by Anonymous on 04/09/2008
I'm finally giving up on this place. I've gone many times and have concluded that it isn't worth it, unless one is already in the neighborhood. There are only a few appealing itemsamong them szechuan dumplings in hot oil, shrimp in garlic sauce, double-fried pork with leeks, and scallops with black pepper sauce. None of the food is ever really hot szechuan peppercorns add flavor (not to be eatenpick them out), but not heat. Many of the sauces are variations on a single sauce. The manager is awfully unwelcoming, even after numerous visits. Waiters are gracious, but the experience is never what it ought to be. Dinner prices are relatively high lunch is moderate but lines can be long.
Posted by wei on 03/28/2008
I go to this place to get lunch almost twice a week. The food is good, however, too salty. No matter how many times I asked the waiter/waitress to inform the chef to put less salt. It always turns out the sauce was ready made, can't do anything about.
Posted by hard to please on 03/18/2008
Have no idea what everyone is raving about. We tried this place TWICE to be fair and each time...with two different people, we had the same same rude service with cashier and maitre d', ordinary Chinese food and totally unattentive waiters. These young ladies at the front desk dont even try to be pleasant. And the waiters each time were unattetive to the point where we were served the wrong dish (AFTER 30 mins wait) with no apology and then when the food arrived, it was literally thrown on the table.....This behavior and service might have been more palatable if the food was fantastic/superb as others raved about.....but it was ORDINARY SZECHUAN CHINESE FOOD......nothing special....that one can 't find elsewhere in NYC with better service and ambiance!. As Chinese Americans who have been living in NYC for over 50 yrs, we were simply NOT impressed and have no idea why this restaurant gets all these rave reviews!