Monday, April 20, 2009

Best Getting to Know the Neighborhood: Two Victories

A while back I learned that "sichuan" means the food is going to be spicy, and for me, that's nearly all the Chinese I need to know. In an effort to see what living on the edge of Chinatown has to offer me in the spicy and delicious department, I went to menupages and looked for nearby establishments with the word "sichuan" in their name. Sadly, only two came up, but happily, I've now eaten at both and they both were totally great.

Restaurant #1: The Grand Sichuan @ 125 Canal Street

I went here on Friday, which was a super-sunny and perfect day. They sat me near a window watching the traffic empty off from the Manhattan Bridge...something about it had me feeling like I was in Los Angeles. The Grand Sichuan was heaps cheap, offering a $4.65 lunch special (entree, soup, rice)--but even crazier, this special was $3.75 until recently. Sheesh!

Prices so nice that I ordered a bowl of Dan Dan Noodles, too. Looking at this picture, can you tell what's the best thing about the Grand Sichuan? Well, the best thing about the Grand Sichuan was that the waitress noticed I drink LOTS of water and just left the pitcher with me. That's service! And these dan dan noodles were just great...of course, this picture is before I mixed them all up, all the peppers and hot oil and pork were hiding at the bottom.

Here's the part of the lunch that was $4.65: I had the Sichuan Double Cooked Pork and a Hot and Sour soup. The soup was, unfortunately, nothing at all special but the pork was great. Just slices of pork, green pepper, onion, and hot peppers. Plenty of mouth-tingling spice, I was very happy with this meal (next time I'll try a different soup, perhaps their sichuan wonton?)

Restaurant #2: Famous Sichuan & 10 Pell Street

Ate here today (Monday.) First of all, if you want to go to a street that will really make you feel like you're in China Town (and not in a shoulder to shoulder tourist destination), take a walk down Pell. Secondly, it was all rainy and gray today and this place was a perfect rainy day-destination. Very hospitable environment with large fish tanks full of fish for eating and other tanks with fish for looking at. A few tables of Chinese families having magnificent looking lunches, and me, just looking at the lunch menu.

Set lunches at Famous Sichuan were $5.85 which included entree, rice, soup (another lackluster bowl of hot and sour) and a spicy pickled cabbage and carrot appetizer. I ordered the Sauteed Vermicelli with Spicy Minced Pork which had two peppers by it on the menu (as opposed to the typical one pepper spice indication). While I think things like double or triple black diamond designations for ski runs are silly and over the top, I appreciate a menu that helps me find a restaurants spiciest dishes at a glance.
And the double-pepper rating didn't lie, this big bowl of noodles, peppers, and pork was delicious AND spicy enough to inspire me to stir in some rice to cut down on the mercilessness of it a bit. Eating something good and good and spicy just puts me in an absolutely proper mood. I wish I could just eat this picture. I REALLY liked Famous Sichuan and I REALLY want to go back. Consider it perhaps the first place I've discovered that I'll long for and travel to once my Elizabeth street days are over.

(And if I have room when I'm done, I'll go over to the Grand Sichuan for a second lunch.)
(But also, I've read that the Grand Sichuan does an excellent hot pot, and I've never even had Chinese hot pot, so I need to go learn about that)

1 comment:

marshall p said...

you were in my dream the other night! only you were somebody I knew in high school. and you were eating hot peppers. j.k.