The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Grand Sichuan, I Love You

This entry originally took place on February 16 and March 11.

Grand Sichuan
Grand Sichuan

My favorite Chinese restaurant in the city is Grand Sichuan, partially because of its multiple convenient locations (I go to the ones in Chelsea and on St. Marks), mostly because their food tastes like awesome (if you know what to order, at least) and spans four of my favorite food groups: spicy awesome, vegetable awesome, dumpling awesome, and noodly awesome. According to my Flickr archives, I've been there six times since February, easily more than any other restaurant in the city. Granted, half of those times were just to get a quick, cheap lunch near work, but they still count in my grand total.

However, the lunches don't count as contributors to the Grand Sichuan 'Splosion Experience. My first Grand Sichuan 'splosion was spurred by Kathryn and her laundry list of recommendations. When Kathryn recommends something, you listen. Because she's always right. She, along with Dan, Kathy, and Greg, help me plow through most of her favorite dishes. That dinner rekindled a flame in my GS-loving belly...a flame that mostly burned for cucumber in scallion sauce. (You'll see. Oh yes.)

AND THEN I NEEDED MORE—MORE SCALLION SAUCE, MORE BEEFY GOODNESS, MORE DUMPLINGS, RAWRGFLUNG...[calmly wipes flecks of spit off monitor]. About three weeks later I arranged another Grand Sichuan 'Splosion Experience aided by Ulla, her boyfriend, and her sister, Diana, Greg (agaaain), Lee Anne, and Chris. You know how much food eight people can eat? A lot! Yay!

And with that introduction, I present the food porny results to you. Since you're unlikely to find deliciousness by blindly picking items from their menu, here are some of my favorite dishes.

Cold Cucumber with scallion sauce

Cold cucumber with scallion sauce: One of my favorite dishes is not a meat, nor is it spicy, nor is it even cooked (nor, despite its non-meatness, is it vegetarian, but I'll get to that in a bit). IT'S JUST CUCUMBER NUBS IN SAUCE! But...but magical, vibrant peridot-green sauce with the concentrated deliciousness of scallion squeezings. Lee Anne uncovered the simple components of this sauce: sesame oil, scallion oil (pressed in-house, or whatever), chicken broth, and salt. At least, I think that was it. Methinks the chicken broth contributed much tastiness; it's not a flavor you'd expect to find in what is basically a cucumber salad.


I liked it so much that I poured the fat-globular remains into my bowl of rice, even though my stomach was past the point of, "Stop feeding me, please, cant you just..oh fuck whatever." Even though I wasn't even that hungry before the meal began, I ended up finishing off the sauce and the rice. Moderation fail.

dan dan noodles

Dan dan noodles: Mildly chewy, medium-thick noodles topped with a splodge of ground pork and chili oil goo. Even the minimal greenery adds a hint of refreshing something or other. The only thing that I've found out of place with dan dan noodles is that the bowl is never large enough to allow for easy non-messy noodle mixing—that is, some pork chili goo will probably fend up soiling the tablecloth—but maybe the inadequately-sized bowl is there to ensure you mix it carefully. Or maybe they just don't have slightly larger bowls.

Sichuan won ton with red chili oil

Sichuan wonton with red chili oil: I kind of like anything swimming in chili oil. Including these dainty pork wontons.

pork soup dumplings
Soup dumps!

Pork soup dumplings (xiao long bao): Soup dumplings have a short lifespan of deliciousness compared to most other dumplings—bite into one after it cools down and you're left with a lifeless pocket of pork and fatty pork juice. ...Which doesn't sound that terrible, but trust me when I say it's a gazillion times better when hot. Although Grand Sichuan may not be the place to go for the best soup dumplings, their version is perfectly good—fairly thin skinned and plump. I usually order them when eating with a large group.

Gui Zhou Spicy Chicken
Chicken #1

Gui Zhou Spicy Chicken: This is one of the roasty spicy chicken nubbin dishes you should get. It's fried! It's crispy! What's not to like? NOTHING.

Chong Qing Dry and Spicy Chicken
Chicken #2

Chong Qing Dry and Spicy Chicken: This is the other spicy fried chicken nubbin dish you should get. It's not as enjoyable as the first one since the dish is seemingly 75% chili peppers that you shouldn't eat unless you're a masochist (or maybe my taste buds just can't handle it), but the peppers do lend their nice burninating flavor to the tender chicken nubbins. Another annoying part about this dish is that the chicken and chili peppers are similar in color and size, thus leading to the situation where near the end of the meal, you think you've fished out a wayward chicken nub buried within the graveyard of peppers when, in fact, it's just another goddamn pepper.

fried beef with cumin flavor
Beefy o weefy

Fried beef with cumin flavor: The first time I tried this, I thought, "Yeah, it's quite good." The second time I tried it, I thought, "HOLY CRAP I LOVE THIS, OH GOD." (I don't know what happened from Point A to Point B, as I'm pretty sure it tasted the same.) Thin slices of tender (really tender...yes) beef lightly breaded in something cumin-laden, fried to a crisp, and served with cilantro and onion. For whatever reason they only provide you with one mantou bun cut into four sadly insubstantial slices, but maybe they'd give you more if you ask. Because...really, one mantou with a pile of beef? What?

smoked tea duck

Smoked tea duck: Moist, fatty meat covered with a layer of crispy, fatty skin. No spice, but still awesome.

sauteed snow pea shoots
Pea shoots! Mah babies! Come to me!

Sautéed snow pea shoots: I LOVE YOU, SNOW PEA SHOOTS. I LOVE YOU FOREVER! So crispy and sweet, you are. Admittedly, you're quite expensive in most restaurants, so I may as well just cook you at home.

I think that ends my list of favorites. Not to say there aren't other awesome dishes on the menu. Sautéed string beans, for instance: I love them, but I prefer the ones from Famous Sichuan, which I have sadly not eaten at in a long time. I think another visit is in order...

EDIT (3/25/09): MORE DISHES!!

I totally forgot about these other dishes that I love since I hadn't eaten them in the past two months. BUT THEY ARE STILL WORTHY OF MY LOVE! And your love. And your stomach acids. Here they are:

ma pa tofu with chili minced pork
Burninatingly good.

Mapo tofu: Minced pork, jiggly soft tofu cubes, and lots, lots, lots of hot, oily chili sauce. EVERYWHERE. Potentially painful, but in a good way.

eggplant of HEAVEN?!

Eggplant: Eggplant logs that are partially sliced at even intervals for ease of eating, but are left mostly intact for that satisfying, "Holy crap this is an EGGPLANT LOG," sensation. Aside from "fried," this is my favorite form of eggplant: soft and creamy as butter, doused in burning hot chili oil goo. (This dish may or may not come with pork. You should ask if you care.)

chicken soup of deliciousness
Soup? Soup!

Chicken and spinach noodle soup: (At the Chelsea location and not St. Marks, according to the online menu.) It's not spicy. It's not fried. And it's mostly liquid. (Or mostly noodles, but...there's a lot of soup, yes.) So why do I like it? There's something comforting about it. And salty. And chickeny. And spinachy. It came to my rescue when this morning after going to the dentist to get a crown put in, my jaw still ached by the time lunch rolled around. I couldn't eat anything spicy, sour, or sticky, and considering the ache, preferably not anything that required much chewing. The chicken and spinach noodle soup was perfect: nothing required much chewing (everything had about the same super-soft texture), but there was enough non-soup substance to fill me up. I only needed to eat half of the portion (you get a small bucket for $6.25), so I get to eat it again for lunch tomorrow! WOOHOOOOO!

Related: The Spotted Pig, a Stomach-Burning Break, and Too Much Gelato


Grand Sichuan

All the food in this entry was from the St. Mark's location:
23 Saint Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

I've also frequently eaten at the Chelsea location with good results:
229 9th Ave # 1
New York, NY 10001

And there are others listed on their website that I can't vouch for, but I'd assume they're also good.


Manda / March 25, 2009 1:38 AM

Noodly awesome sounds like something I'd say. XD

I looked at Kathryn's post and was wondering if you have tried the sour string beans with pork. I'm thinking it's possibly one of my favorite Sichuan dishes with these diced pickled long beans stir-fried with pork and chiles (jiang dou?).

Pea shoots and scores! I have a craving for Sichuan food now. =P

cm / March 25, 2009 1:43 AM

"Although Grand Sichuan may not be the place to go for the best soup dumplings, their version is perfectly good—fairly thin skinned and plump."

hey you can't say that without saying where IS the best place to go for the best soup dumplings!

roboppy / March 25, 2009 8:37 AM

Manda: Nope, haven't had that. I'll have to try it next time!

Greg: Yes..yes you are. [pat pat]

cm: I don't know where the best place is! For the most part I'm not very discerning, haha. The best I've had so far is in Flushing, but there might be better places? I take suggestions.

Su-Lin: I didn't even think of finding a recipe. ARGHHG if only you lived here, then we could have cooking nights.

jetgirl / March 25, 2009 9:56 AM

arg, I need to go to not-Texas for good Asian food... that i can afford. ^_^ Someday ill have one of those soup dumplings I see all the time.

maggie / March 25, 2009 2:51 PM

We order from Grand Sichuan (St. Marks) at least once a week..and almost always order things you've listed above, though I also LOVE the eggplant in garlic sauce (with pork, of course).

Laura [what I Like] / March 25, 2009 4:07 PM

I adore their pea shoots! I would agree on the soup dumplings...last time I went there the little fat globules were not fully dissolved which was sort of gross but they still tasted yum.

Emily / March 25, 2009 5:27 PM

Robyn, you made me drool!!!!!!! Seriously, it all looks so good. I was just in NYC this weekend @ Otto and Joe's Shanghai... must say, if you like crab flavor, Joe's crab meat soup dumplings are like none other. There's this cheap joint in Flushing that sells wontons in red chili oil which is pretty good, too.

On a side note way off topic: I was in Paris last month (I always think of you when I go -- must be all your posts!) and I must say this... Paris while 7months pregnant rocks and I definitely ate for 2! Oh, and thanks to my sister this weekend, baby showers at Otto rock, too! Just something for you to keep in mind down the road!

Danny / March 26, 2009 12:00 AM

Mmm.. tea duck. It seems like every sichuan place does that, but I still have never ordered it! The cucumbers look amazing though, I have to remember to get that next time. It's listed under cold appetizers?

roboppy / March 26, 2009 2:01 AM

Holly: It's in NYC, not DC! Sorry for any confusion. I don't know if DC has Sichuan

jetgirl: There is so much not-Texas in this country. YOU CAN DO IT. I'll save a soup dumpling for youuu.

noble pig: I'm not sure if this food goes with coffee. But I say that as someone who never drinks coffee...oooops.

Kathryn: BUT OF COURSE!!

Maggie: I LOVE THE EGGPLANT TOO! Totally forgot to include it before, but I added it, along with a few other dishes.

Laura: Aw, fat globules. I still love em.

CSC: Oh no..I hope you find one. I generally like Chinese take out but when it's bad, it's...pretty bad.

Emily: I think I went to the place in Flushing if it's White Bear. And if it's'll have to find it!

Man, I want a reason to eat for two in Paris!

Justin: For convenience sake, it's my favorite, definitely. I get more than one location to choose from! :D If I could to go Golden Shopping Mall every day that might be my favorite...alas, TOO FREAKIN FAR AWAY.

Danny: Yup, I think it's under the cold apps. Omg we should just plan another group dinner...eheheh?

Mel: Thanks for coming! I gotta figure out how to make my own scallion

Connie / March 26, 2009 2:20 AM

Hi Robyn!! I noticed you went to Philly recently, and ate lots of good food!! I'm actually going there next week, and would like to know some good suggestions? I'm alreay planning on ging to Miel and also Capogiro, but could you recommend anything else that you would have to spend less than $10 for a meal? My two friends and I are still 20 (boooo) so some places we can't go to.

If you could help me out, that would be awesome!! Thanks so much!! I love reading your site

SuperChomp / March 26, 2009 6:47 AM

Good round up. ALthough, seriously, I've never seen mapo tofu done like that before i.e. swimming in quite that amount of oil. It scares me...


Ulla / March 26, 2009 3:16 PM

OMG! That was the best! I love grand sichuan too. And I always go to one of the locations for my birthday dinner. If that is not a saying I love it I do no know what is!:)

And I am so happy to be included in the this post:)
I had a great time:)
All your friends are so sweet--- just like you!
I would love to go to flushing next!:P

hungrygerman / March 26, 2009 3:44 PM

Thank you for dissecting the cuke salad recipe! Now I actually have a chance of replicating it. With those ingredients it's bound to be tasty even if it's not the same. I forsee myself adding that sauce to alll my veggies in the future. Mmmmmm, scallions, salt, chicken stock and sesame oil.

LaserLiza / March 26, 2009 4:24 PM

Those dumplings the cucumbers, and the beef. I. Want. It. Now.

GO / March 27, 2009 12:02 PM

I didn't see this location on their website, but the Grand Sichuan on 33rd and Lex is most definitely not as good as the one on St. Marks. Beware, not all Grand Sichuan's are created equal.

roboppy / March 27, 2009 6:04 PM

Connie: Ahhh, I'm not that familiar with Philly.. ;_; I couldn't tell you much beyond what I've already written, but definitely check out Reading Terminal if you want cheap eats. I haven't had a cheesesteak yet but those are under $10, haha. UHH LOOK AT HOW UNHELPFUL I AM.


Yeah it's probably excessive.

Ulla: I haven't planned another Flushing trip yet, but when I do I will let you know!

Hungry German: I would add that sauce to like..EVERYTHING. Veggie or not. Except cake.

LazerLiza: I hope. You. Got. FOOD.

GO: Although I wouldn't bet my life on it, I don't think that GS is affiliated with the chain. They have their own official website. There's another unaffiliated Grand Sichuan in Chinatown. CONFUSING.

Lisa in Toronto / March 29, 2009 5:01 PM

I totally understand the need for a convenient and really good all-purpose Chinese restaurant.
In Toronto my vote goes to Asian Legend. I usually go to the downtown branch, but the suburban ones are also fine.
Fish-fragrant eggplant, green beans, Shanghai noodles, soup dumplings, vegetable dumplings, deep fried tofu (even if no longer as spicy as a few years ago), green onion pancake, pea shoots, hot and sour soup ...all standards on our tables (but maybe not all at once unless we are a big group). They also make a good kung pao shrimp.
There are weekday lunch specials for the meateaters.
I was just there last night, but I want to go back already! thanks for the very fab post.
p.s. my colleagues from Sichuan say you are not supposed to eat the peppers.

jroo / April 8, 2009 9:42 PM

hi there-
i've been wanting to try this restaurant - can you let me know if the dan dan noodles contain peanuts? i know it should not *traditionally*, but i've encounter many a versions in NYC that contain peanuts.
thanks in advance,
person with peanut allergy =(

roboppy / April 9, 2009 1:01 AM

jroo: I don't recall any nuts in GS's version of dan dan noodles. You should probably call them though to make sure there's no peanut cross contamination..they do serve dishes with peanuts in them. :(

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