January 20, 2010

Szechuan Gourmet, at Least One Reason to Go to 39th Street

This post originally took place on January 7.

Szechuan Gourmet
Szechuan Gourmet.

I have no good reason for not having been to Szechuan Gourmet more often considering how close it is to my office on 27th Street and that I usually slobber at the thought of Sichuan food (I'm going to stick to "Sichuan" to refer to the cuisine even though the restaurant uses "Szechuan"). But 39th Street between 5th and 6th avenues feels like a zone of nothingness, furthermore, a zone in the opposite direction of my apartment. So I forget it's there and continue to point my merry band of eaters to Grand Sichuan or Famous Sichuan instead.

It took Tina's organizational skills to bring Liza, Ben, Colin, and I together for dinner at Szechuan Gourmet. In conclusion, I MUST GO BACK! Oh wait, I can't conclude yet; you should probably look at what I ate first.

Spicy Cucumber Salad
Spicy cucumber salad.

Spicy cucumber salad ($5.95): Crispy cucumber chunks = very good delivery system for spicy sauce.

Smoked Tofu Shreds w/Asian Celery
Smoked tofu shreds.

Smoked tofu shreds with Asian celery ($6.95): Dried tofu is my favorite sort of tofu; it's firm and has a mildly chewy texture. But it wouldn't be all that satisfying if I just ate a wad of it. Matchsticks of thin celery stalks add pockets of crunchiness and freshness to each bite. And spicy sauce makes everything better.

Dan Dan Noodles w/Chilli Minced Pork
Dan dan noodles.

Dan dan noodles ($4.50): Aside from anything involving rice noodles, it's one of my favorite Chinese noodle dishes. Mix the noodles with the little heap of minced pork, chili oil, and cooked spinach. BOOYAAARRH DELICIOUSNESS. Fuchsia Dunlop has a recipe for this in Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper that I keep meaning to try. Note to self: try it.

Double Cooked Sliced Pork Belly
Double cooked sliced pork belly.

Double cooked sliced pork belly ($13.95): Thinly sliced pork belly mixed with tingly chili sauce and leek greens. I think my favorite version is still from Famous Sichuan, but this was perfectly fine. This is another dish I should add this to my "learn how to make at home" list. (The last thing I made at home didn't even involve cooking: it was a hodgepodge of a bread salad including cucumber, snow peas, cannellini beans, and canned corn. It lasted two meals, but I got sick of it after the first. Then again, I made it because I was feeling over-meat-ed, which isn't a problem that pork belly will solve.)

Half Camphor Tea Smoked Duck
Tea smoked duck.

Half Camphor Tea Smoked Duck ($15.95): I didn't eat much of this, so I don't recall many details besides that the smoked meat wasn't dry, nor oozing poultry juices. Good, but didn't leave a big impression. There were more bony bits on the plate than I was expecting.

Crispy Lamb Filets w/Chilli Cumin
Crispy lamb.

Crispy lamb fiilets with chilli cumin ($15.95): Perhaps I was too distracted with the lamb to think about the duck. This is one of my most favorite lamb dishes ever (and like many others, one of my favorite dishes at Szechuan Gourmet)—the lamb chunks are super tender and lightly dusted with cumin and chili, resulting in a very slightly crispy exterior.

We could've eaten much more, but it's a good thing we stopped there, just before the point of pants-popping stomach distension and grabbing my belly while moaning, "OH MAN I ATE TOO MUCH AGAIN WTF" (this happens with disturbingly high frequency). That just means I'll have to go back and try more dishes.


21 West 39 Street, New York, NY 10018 (b/t 5th and 6th aves; map)

Posted by roboppy at 11:24 PM

Tags: Ben, Chelsea, Chinese, Colin, Liza, Sichuan, Szechuan Gourmet, Tina


I love how you tagged on the prices next to each dish! Now I will know if the restaurant (and most importantly, the food) is affordable ahead of time! Thanks Robyn!

Posted by: Michelle at January 21, 2010 2:32 AM [#]

Have you been to Lan Sheng (also on 39th st) yet? I think it's slightly better than SG

Posted by: Eric at January 21, 2010 11:34 AM [#]

Michelle: No prob! I need to get in the habit of adding prices.

Eric: Nope, but I want to! Then again I've been saying that for months. I apparently can't get to 39th Street on my own will...

Argh, that should have top priority.

Posted by: roboppy at January 21, 2010 11:43 AM [#]

OMG I totally ate there! Considering I live in Vancouver, BC, that is pretty exciting for me to say. It was near our hotel and we stumbled on it one night as we were making our way back and had given up on the idea of finding anything good to eat. Fortunately I noticed that Frank Bruni review in the window. It was so good we went back a couple of days later.

Posted by: Lydia at January 21, 2010 3:23 PM [#]

Man oh man, I loooove reading about the food you eat! I'm so very glad I discovered your blog! I love your photos and I love the way you talk about food.


Posted by: egeria at January 21, 2010 5:31 PM [#]

Dried tofu! Oh, the wonder! I'm totally with you on this one, though that dish looks like it's missing pork... then again, most of life is anyway.

Posted by: James at January 22, 2010 1:03 AM [#]

Our NYC family reunions are held here. I love this place, and that smoked duck.

Posted by: Naomi at January 22, 2010 1:48 PM [#]

Lydia: Good restaurant to stumble upon!

egeria: Thanks!

James: It's good without pork, methinks. GASP. :)

Naomi: I will have to give the duck another try!

Posted by: roboppy at January 22, 2010 7:29 PM [#]

hahaha, dried tofu is MY favourite kind too! but usually i eat in perhaps not-so-satisfying wads... :P have you ever eaten jia chang doufu? tofu is fried up nice and crispy in oil first, then transferred to another pan to fry happily with some porky bits, chili peppers, a little onion and mushroom ... really good!

Posted by: tamstar at January 23, 2010 4:59 AM [#]

tamstar: I don't know if I've had jia chang doufu, but NOW I WANT IT! Ahhhhrrhrhgh I'll have to keep my eyes out for that.

Posted by: roboppy at January 24, 2010 7:57 PM [#]

all those dishes look great (and yes, thanks for listing the prices). i've been wanting to try dan dan noodles ever since i read one of your flushing blog entries. love your blog!

Posted by: peepercake at January 25, 2010 12:54 PM [#]


Posted by: roboppy at January 26, 2010 1:15 AM [#]

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