Have I ever mentioned that I don’t eat a lot of Chinese food in Manhattan? Maybe it’s because I haven’t found one I really like, or maybe it’s because it’s just really difficult to find good Chinese food in the city. There are little things here and there (for instance, I like to stop by Big Wong for a bowl of congee with preserved duck eggs and pork and Joe Shanghai used to be a Sunday night tradition), but, for a larger Chinese dinner, I just haven’t found anything that has really knocked my socks off. I think it’s because I was spoiled by my mom’s home cooking and numerous trips to Taiwan and China to taste different types of cuisine (my parents are both very adventurous eaters). The Chinese food you find here is usually coated in gloppy brown sauce (a combination of soy sauce, corn starch, and MSG) and doesn’t have any of the vibrant flavors you usually taste in authentic Chinese cuisine.
Okay, enough of my complaining; even though I haven’t found amazing Chinese in Chinatown, I will admit that I do enjoy going to Grand Sichuan every so often for two dishes: pumpkin sauteed with pork and pea sprouts sauteed with garlic.
We walked to Grand Sichuan after the Iron Chef America Taping we attended at Chelsea Market. It was my mom’s first time at Grand Sichuan, but I had been there once before; on our last day of work in Flatiron, we went to Grand Sichuan for a send-off lunch. My brother and I both like the pumpkin sauteed with pork, so we ordered it for my mom to try:
The pumpkin and pork are sauteed with some peppers that add just the right amount of heat to the dish. The pumpkin adds a good amount of sweetness to balance out the heat and the dish is a must order every time we go to Grand Sichuan. My only complaint about the dish is that the past couple of times I went, I’ve been getting less and less pork (and pumpkin) in the dish.
My other go to dish at Grand Sichuan – pea sprouts sauteed with garlic:
I love this dish because it’s so easy to make yet so incredibly delicious. The oil is infused with freshly chopped garlic and the pea sprouts are quickly sauteed to spread the garlicky flavor on every leaf. My mom insists we order order vegetables at restaurants and usually just asks what they have in the kitchen – we usually go with pea sprouts in garlic or kong xing cai (Chinese spinach) sauteed with garlic. I grew up eating (and loving) both and that’s what my brother and I always order when we go to Chinese restaurants these days.
The other dishes we’ve ordered at Grand Sichuan are usually mediocre; on the visit with my mom, we ordered a fish soup that tasted like salty water with some hot pepper sauce, the wontons in hot sauce don’t have much taste to me (in fact, I think the hot sauce masks any flavor from the meat), and the xiao long bao at Grand Sichuan are not really worth ordering. If you do plan on going to Grand Sichuan, definitely order the pumpkin with pork and the pea sprouts – and let me know if you find anything else equally delicious on the menu!