Adventures of a Gastronome in Training (GIT)

One amateur foodie's quest for culinary enlightenment. Musings on cooking, dining, food products, basically all things edible are fair game.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Grand Sichuan International

Marty and I hit Grand Sichuan International in midtown for the first time this weekend. I had read countless affirmations for this place on Egullet for their spicy, authentic Chinese fixings. We were duly (or dually) impressed. There are a few outlets of Grand Sichuan around Manhattan. However, the one on 9th Avenue in midtown is known to be the best executed and most consistent. The restaurant has the look of a classic Chinese eatery. There’s not much for ambiance. Read: clean enough and meets one’s basic restaurant needs. The patrons in the nearly full restaurant were over half Asian, usually a good sign.

We started with the wonton soup ($1.50) and dan dan noodles with chili sauce ($3.50). Wonton soup is not why you come here, but it is a pleasant rendition. The dan dan noodles, however, were a knockout. It’s a very simple dish, noodles sitting in chili oil with delicious dried chewy little bits of pork scattered on the top. The noodle is a like a thinner udon, but thick enough to give a satisfying chew. This dish is spicy. Our noses were red and running. Our lips were tingling. My water glass empty.

For entrees, we had the fresh killed Kung Bao chicken (~$13.00) and pea shoots (~$7.50). There is an explanation of the importance of fresh killed chicken in Chinese cooking outlined in the menu. There's something about the description "fresh killed" that is a bit unsettling. A little too vivid I guess. I pictured dozens of chickens hanging out behind the restaurant waiting for the man in the black mask to show. Anyhow, my stomach growled, and my mind was back on the food. The menu goes on to say that due to the difference in taste, it said you rarely see Chinese people ordering chicken dishes at American Chinese restaurants. I do have to say, the chicken had a smoother texture (not stringy) and almost rich flavor. The dish itself was out of the park. I’ve never had Kung Bao (or Pao as I usually see it) that was so good! Again, this dish is spicy, keep your water and napkin handy, and watch out for the dried chilis. The pea shoots came wilted with slices of garlic. They had almost a buttery flavor, and were a refreshing break from the other spicy food.

Grand Sichuan International has a huge menu. I think the best way to experience this place would be to come with a group of friends and order like crazy. Any takers?

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Jennie/Female. Lives in United States/Jennie Auster/New York, speaks English. Eye color is blue.