December 25, 2008
String Beans and More (String Beans) from Famous Sichuan
I'm obsessed with a certain foodstuff. And it's not wheat based. Or sugar based. Or fat based.
BUT ROBYN, WHAT ELSE COULD BE WORTHY OF YOUR OBSESSION?, you ask. In italics.
Sautéed string beans. Specifically, the ones from Famous Sichuan. Observe the time line of my madness.
- NOM NOM
November 18: My first visit to Famous Sichuan and my introduction to their string beans—solid, slender pods blistered to a crisp with a hint of chewiness, and bursting with beany, garlicky, salty, sweet juices. The seed for addiction has been planted.
November 30: My third visit (the second being on the day before) and my second time ordering the string beans. They taste as good as they did the first time. The addiction grows.
- I love eating family-style
December 11: My fourth visit and third time ordering the string beans. Surprisingly, there is no photographic evidence of the dish, but the bill tells all. The total is quite reasonable for a party of ten. I convert possibly nine other people to the Church of the String Bean. I've done good.
December 17: My fifth visit and fourth string bean experience. Every meal at Famous Sichuan from now on must follow the formula of string beans + [other dish]. I am ready to form an "I LOVE SAUTÉED STRING BEANS CLUB."
Sometime in between my second and third string bean gorging, I tried the sautéed string beans from the Grand Sichuan International in Chelsea to do a comparison. While they were still mega tasty, they didn't garner a spot on the Wall of String Bean Fame—the beans weren't as fat and juicy as the ones from Famous Sichuan's. Sadness.
Having eaten at Famous Sichuan five times now—possibly the most times I've eaten at any non-take-out restaurant over the period of a month—I have a few recommendations.
- OH PORK, don't fail me now.
Double sautéed pork with spicy capsicum: I didn't think I'd enjoy it, yet I ordered it anyway. And now it's one of my favorite Sichuan dishes. I had it once before at Grand Sichuan International and found it fatty in an unpleasant, overly chewy way, but Famous Sichuan's version was fatty in a pleasant, melty-fatty way. I'd give it a three out of four on the spicy scale: it might induce tears, but it won't make you choke.
- Vegetarian friendly, unlike the last one.
General Tso's bean curd: I would have never ordered this if not for Tristan's vegan palate—and what a shame that would've been since this might be the best deep-fried tofu dish I've ever eaten. Biting through the light, crispy coating of the large tofu chunk reveals a smooth and creamy fresh tofu center. If you don't like this, then something is just terribly wrong. ...With you, not the dish.
- Gimme the dan dan!
Dan dan noodles with minced pork chili sauce: These noodles are softer than the ones in GSI's version. I haven't decided whether I like them better or not. No matter what, the combination of thick wheat noodles, spicy minced pork glop, and spinach can't not be tasty.
- Big bowl of beefy.
Braised beef filets and napa cabbage with roasted chili: I never had this dish before eating at Famous Sichuan. It's a big bowl of super tender beef strips in a thick, spicy sauce with lots of cabbage. It wasn't love at first bite, but after ordering it twice, I'd say I'm a fan.
- Fish, crispified.
Fried whole fish: Possibly served with sweet and sour sauce, but I can't remember. My favorite form of fish is whole, steamed, and seasoned with ginger and scallion, but fried would be second. The fish is plucked fresh from one of the tanks at the front of the restaurant; if that freaks you out, look away. The fish is partially sliced so you can easily pull off its large, lightly crisp chunks of sweet flesh-o-the-sea.
- Leave of peas!
Sautéed snow pea leaf: One of my favorite Chinese vegetables dishes of all time. Sweet, tender snow pea shoots infused with garlic and more garlic. Oh, how the drool flows.
- Poultry time.
Stir fried chicken with capsicum: Tender, juicy chicken nublets soaked in hotness? Bring. It. On Although chicken is usually boring, in the hands of a Sichuan restaurant it tends to be 1000% awesome. This is on the side of awesome.
- Dumplings, and innards.
Soup dumplings filled with crab and pork: I found these much meatier and a little less soupy than most typical soup dumplings. Not a "must order," but worth getting if you're craving soup dumplings.
- Peanuts with a burning sensation.
Spicy candied peanuts: These come free at the beginning of the meal—at least, on my fifth visit they were, while during my first four visits we were given complimentary pickles. Upon first bite the peanutsa're sweet and crunchy, while a moment later the pepper burning sensation kicks in. It's a sharp burn, so be careful.
Methinks that's enough food porn for now.
While there have always been a few other tables occupied during my visits to Famous Sichuan, overall I'd label it as alarmingly empty. As nice as it is having a place I can rely on for impromptu parties of 10 or more, I'd also like for Famous Sichuan to stay in business. So go forth and eat, my hungry padawans.
10 Pell St
New York, NY 10013
Posted by roboppy at 3:05 PM
There's a restaurant near my house that cooks those string beans! AAAHHHH. :D They're very delicious!
I'm sitting here enjoying my Christmas treat of green bean casserole with extra friend onions, (no mushrooms, I'm allergic) reading about your green bean addiction. I love, love -love- sauteed green beans, and could eat them every day. Though yours look much better than the ones at the local Chinese buffet. The nearest dim sum restaurant is in Champaign-Urbana, and it's making me wonder if they have those luscious looking green beans.
oh robyn you are hilarious :) just poking my head up to say Happy Christmas! hope your toesies are wrapped up warm & you are sufficiently stuffed (with food, i mean).
Trixy: You can join the I Love String Beans Club.
Kate: I'VE NEVER HAD GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE. ...I should make it someday, maybe?
Robyn, I love those sichuan string beans too, but I noticed you asked for the minced pork to be left out! WHY??? They taste so good with the meat.
I still can't get over the gen. tso's tofu. holy god.
I think I know what snow pea leaf is in Chinese... but I can't be sure. It might possibly be me and my siblings' favourite leafy green.
And hey, that's a great food obsession to have! Hot wok and veg for the win!
I've had many bad experiences with squeaky string beans. It's like they dare each other!
I'm comforted by the funny menu, though. It seems as though everything was worthy of elaboration, until it got to the 'FISH'. All it needs is an exclaimation mark. :D
Wow everything looks so good it could even lead me to trying string beans again, ive only ever had them blanched and they were bland and boring. I may have to add this place to my ever growing list of places to visit when i visit nyc next year although saying that list is getting a little overlong
bobogal: Not all my friends are into the porkies.. :[ Sad but truuue.
Tristan: We will get you more. Yes. [pat pat]
SuperChomp: DAMN I had more snow pea leaf last night and I just want to get a giant mountain of it and sleep in it and eat my way out, I LOVE IT.
Graeme: Squeaky? Nooo! No squeakies! THE SQUEAKIES ARE NOT DELICIOUS! ..Why am I shouting?
Edd: Yes, blanched is quite bland and boring, although I'd probably still enjoy them!
Marcine: ^_^ Thanks! I feel like that exclamation needs to be a bright, flashing badge with LED lights and whatnot. And I would plop it at the top of my page.
I'm sitting here in a puddle of drool. You take the best food photos. I can't wait to investigate this place. I wonder if they do anything special for Chinese New Year. Worth checking out!
Never has 'blistered to a crisp' sounded so appetizing! Roasted green beans has been a favorite of mine for a while now, even comparable to french fries.
Mmmm...those look yummy! I've never seen them around where I live...but I think I will look harder...or figure out how to make them at home...cause they look delicious:)
Mmmm...fried tofu! I <3 fried tofu!!
It's like crunchy, silky, yummy...even better if dipped in some sort of sauce!
If you try the cumin lamb, it will DESTROY your tongue. It also is butt ass expensive. But yea, that dish will set your tongue on fire. Do it next time.
Bonnie: I went to Famous Sichuan again on Saturday. Haha...damn.
Christina: I gotta pick green beans over french fries! Alas, it's not usually an option as a fry replacement..hm.
Kate: I should probably figure out how to make these too. But I know they won't come out as good! Euh.
Danny: Holy crap I am so getting that next time. :)
Robin, you should try green bean casserole some day, if only just to say you did. It seems to be one of those love it or hate it things. My sister hates it. But it's sheer midwestern cream o' soupy goodness. I made it with considerably more of the tinned French Fried Onions than the recipe calls for, and usually add a sploosh of Worchestershire sauce and some garlic. I think it's best the next day, but you should at least try it. It's incredibly easy to make as well. On the other hand, I will freely admit that those green beans look heavenly.
SometimesKate: I'm surprised I haven't had it yet! Someone needs to make it for me...I have no frame of reference so I'd probably screw up making it myself. I'm sure I'd like it.
I just spent Christmas Eve through New Year's Eve in Oklahoma City with my Taiwanese boyfriend's family, and we ate like this every day. It was heaven. We had steamed whole fish for our farewell dinner (and some of that braised beef shank over cabbage, and a dozen other dishes). Such a treat! There were some things his mom thought I might be squeamish about, but most of the dishes were close to the Filipino food I was raised on. Including the furry pork.
Just curious, are your favourite green beans vegetarian, or do they have tiny shrimp amongst the garlic bits?
I keep trying this dish in Toronto and in China, and it varies a great deal chef to chef.
happy eating in 2009!
Julie: Man..I'm jealouuus. This is so not how I eat at home, haha!
Lisa: Nope, no shrimpies! I haven't seen that version before, but it sounds good.
went to FS on saturday, really really good! we had the cucumbers and spinach w/ ginger sauce from the cold aps menu; and shredded sauteed potatoes, fresh bacon, and string beans. everything was big thumbs up. then my friend sandy (who owns snacky) said she was told it's run by former Spicy & Tasty folks. So there you go.
Bill: SWEEEEEET! I'm glad you and your friends went and had a great meal! Sounds like you tried a lot of things I haven't gotten to...yet. Bwahaha. Next time.
Great work on the photos, those shots are gorgeous! I totally agree with you're take on the soup dumplings and the snow pea leaves. I now need to try the string beans and dan dan noodles next time I go back.
lol, I just Googled to find an image of snow pea leaves and got sent here. Hilarious.
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