>> Grand Sichuan House | Eat the World NYC

18 February 2009

Grand Sichuan House


EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was initially written in 2009, with a short update at the end of the article written in June 2021 by Joseph Gessert.

COVID-19 UPDATE: Grand Sichuan remains takeout only for the moment, but do a good job of packaging everything and leaving steam vents where appropriate.

This place in Bay Ridge gets consistently good reviews from people who know food, but apparently no one is reading the paper, as our group comprises of the only diners on this cold Monday night. It does not stop us from diving into the menu headfirst though, strategically balancing our dishes between spicy and non-spicy.

It should be said though, that the word "spicy" in a Sichuan restaurant is probably an understatement. The little asterisks or peppers next to the food at any other place would be laughed at by a Sichuanese. But we came prepared to tackle whatever came our way, and started rapid-fire ordering our appetizers.

Two of our first dishes were both spicy ones, the Sichuan spicy dan dan noodles ($3.95, above), and the Sichuan spicy dumplings ($4, not pictured). Both had a beautifully oily red sauce that could compete with any in the city, and were different enough to warrant ordering both. Our mouths were sufficiently warming up.

A pair of vegetable dishes that had no spice came to our table next, and served as cooling mechanisms for us for the rest of the meal. The sautéed loofah ($8.95, above), was a slimy, but very tasty dish loved by most of us, while the shredded potato with vinegar sauce ($8.95, not pictured) was one of the biggest winners of the night. The thinly sliced strips were soaked to perfection, still crispy, yet far from being raw. 
Another of our favorites was the ma po tofu ($8.25, not pictured), a medium spicy bean curd and minced pork stew. We also ordered the shrimp with garlic sauce ($9.75, below), a dish that came and left the table fairly quickly but caused no conversation. It was definitely beautiful in presentation, but almost tasteless after some of our other dishes.

The last dish that came to the table was definitely the hottest, and had my eyes watering for the rest of the evening even when I was back home later. I just could not stop eating all the chicken bits, peppercorns, and even a few red peppers from the Chong qing spicy chicken ($11.95, below).
The waitresses told us that the peppercorns were there for the numbing effect they put on your mouth, but I didn't really feel the benefit as they exploded almost as lively as the peppers. Eating each pepper was an almost spiritual experience, heaven and hell in each bite as sweat started to form on my head and my eyes watered. I started feeling a little tipsy as if I had been drinking for a while, slightly out of body.

It is very good to know that a trip to Flushing is no longer necessary (yet still very fun sometimes) for fantastic Sichuan food in the city.

UPDATE 16 JUNE 2021: Grand Sichuan House is the longest-running of Brooklyn’s great Sichuan restaurants, and though the decor lags behind modernist competitors Chuan Tian Xia and Chuan Yue, Grand Sichuan’s food remains precise, unique, and fantastic.

The star dish is beef with cumin flavor ($15.95). Shredded beef is breaded in a cumin-heavy batter, fried to a texture that approaches jerky ,and tossed with a smattering of thinly-sliced leeks. This is a very different dish from the more ubiquitous cumin lamb, and worth a trip to try.

Also excellent from the “New Sichuan Food” section of the menu is shredded duck with spring ginger ($17.95), which with very few ingredients accomplishes an incredible depth of flavor. Especially for the price, the Sichuan wontons with red oil ($5.25) remain the best in the city. If you find yourself at other restaurants wishing this dish was less sweet, Grand Sichuan’s version may be what you’re looking for. Shredded potatoes with vinegar sauce ($9.50) are still a treat, and it is of course hard to go wrong with sauteed pea shoots with fresh garlic ($14.95) or cucumber with fresh garlic ($6.95).

Though their neighboring restaurants in Sunset Park are wonderful additions to the Brooklyn Chinese food spectrum, Grand Sichuan remains a unique treasure, and is worth a trip from anywhere in the city.

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