We had seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the night before and were settling down for lunch at Grand Sichuan International when the man at the next table hit the remote, and there it was. A video of the movie, complete with Chinese subtitles, perfect for quiet viewing in a restaurant. We exchanged a few words about the movie, which we had greatly enjoyed, and then, all three of us settled down for a comfortable feast.
Grand Sichuan International is an easy place for a comfortable feast, whether one can read a word of Chinese or not. The menu is complete with translations, and the specials appear in both languages on the wall. We dined here shortly after Thanksgiving and were pleased to see an excellent example of fusion cuisine, with a full array of Chinese style turkey and pumpkin dishes. Who says we can't all be comfortable when dining?
We usuallly start with some dumplings. They have various Shanghai soup dumplings, with shrimp soup or crab soup, and they offer a redolent blast of steam, almost like pheasant under glass. Their more familiar solid filled dumplings are excellent as well. While, we Kalebergs sometimes take a theoretical approach to dumplings, the excellence here is strongly applied.
Unlike many western restaurants, vegetables are not an afterthought here. In fact, we always go for several vegetable dishes reflecting the best in the market that day. These may include pea shoots in chicken stock, stir fried red leaf spinach, thinly sliced celery with dry bean curd, brocolli and garlic, and spinach stalks with horseradish. Spinach stalks are often ignored, or even discarded, but they have a rich nutty flavor that is often hidden by the flavor of the rest of the leaf.
The meat and fish dishes are excellent and unusual. Leeks and bacon are a staple of French cooking. Here they cut thick slices of slab bacon with the bone in and served its stir fried with leeks. What an excellent combination. We also loved the crispy quail with cabbage, the tofu with thinly sliced shrimp, the soft shell crabs with black bean sauce, and the chewy noodles.
All told, Grand Sichuan is a most interesting restaurant. We cannot promise what they will be playing on the VCR, but the food will be delicious, and open minded.
Review: 24 January 2001
New York Restaurants