Checking Out Grand Sichuan Eastern in Chelsea

P1020100x.jpg
An Irish slur or actual school of yoga?


One night a few weeks ago, I had a vague report that the Grand Sichuan at Ninth and 24th in Chelsea -- at one time the flagship of the fleet -- had been closed, only to be replaced by a new one on Eighth Avenue and 18th Street. The rumor turned out to be false, and the original was merely closed for a quick remodeling. But, indeed, there was a new one on Eighth Avenue, dubbed Grand Sichuan Eastern.


P1030140x.jpg
Cow tongue and tripe (and tendon) in hot oil was totally on the money.


When I got there, the facade wasn't too promising: A sign in the window advertised a "Drunk Hour," and encouraged diners to learn "Irish Yoga" -- was it some anti-Irish slur? Nevertheless, I decided to come back and check the place out, even though we have about a dozen places called Grand Sichuan in town, apparently under two separate sets of ownership, but all eventually traceable to the original Grand Sichuan that still stands in Chinatown.

A friend and I arrived at about 7 p.m., and the scene was none too encouraging: The room, which boasted a red super-graphic on one wall, was half-filled with snowy-haired ladies eating with forks, who were treating the place as a sort of regular Chinese restaurant and eating fried rice and wonton soup. (More power to 'em!)

But I gasped when I opened the menu, because nearly three-quarters of the stuff therein was doctrinaire Sichuan food of an authentic sort. The first item on the menu was "ox tongue and tripe in spicy peppery sauce" ($7.95). I asked the spiky-haired server, "Is this dish ma-la? Does it contain Sichuan peppercorns?" He looked up at me blankly, and said, "What's that?" Not a good sign! However, he went back into the kitchen to ask the cook, and came back beaming: "It's a powder," he said, which was fine with me.


P1030138.JPG
Pea shoots and garlic -- vegan, wonderful, and pricey


Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
Joe
Joe

We ate at "Chelsea Chinese" on Ninth Ave this week, after going there for years under its former name Grand Sichuan.  We were skeptical, given the name change and the woman's evasive response to our question, Us:  Why the name change?  Her:  Same name.  Us:  Same name?  Her: Same Name.  Anyway, we ordered some of the Sichuan staples, hot and sour soup(best ever), dan dan noodles(also the best ever), soup dumplings(best outside of Chinatown), Gui Zhou Chicken, and a generic pork dish.  All were spot on, and after going there for years, I can assure you the food is the same.  By the way, the service is also the same, very snippy, almost like they would prefer if you take your food to go.  I can understand how someone going there expecting egg rolls and chicken with broccoli would be disappointed, it's not that kind of place.  Not sure I would try the one on Eighth Avenue based on your review, also, had a couple of mediocre experiences at the one on St. Marks, so we go out of our way to get to the one on Ninth, even though St. Marks is much more convenient.  Also tried the new Sichuan spot Hot Kitchen on Second Ave around 6th, pretty disappointing, wouldn't go back.

Renovation, what renovation?  Other than the new sign, the interior still looks like it hasn't been update since 1995.

Tito311
Tito311

Do Not know what the fuss about Chelsea grand Sichuan is all about!Food not very good.

Mak
Mak

I'm not so sure that the place on 9th Avenue is the same restaurant as it used to be before the renovation -- it certainly doesn't appear to be, and now has a totally different generic name on its awning (not Grand Sichuan).

We too tried the place on 8th Avenue hoping that it was the same folks as were on 9th Ave. -- although its been years since the 9th Avenue place was especially good -- at one time amongst the very best places to eat in New York.  We were very disappointed, and found it to be rather like the other dumbed down "Grand Sichuan X" places that have sprung up around town.  We let the waiter now that we wanted the spicy dishes to be served properly spicy, and reiterated that several times when he asked us if we really meant that.  Nontheless, although the dishes had some chiles and chile oil, they had no hua jiao peppercorns whatsoever (not one, and apparently is not on their ingredient list), and as such no ma la flavor.  In the hope that it could have been the long lost staff of 9th Avenue, we ordered some things which were amongst their specialties, Guizhou chicken, beef with chili oil, dan dan noodles, and found them all to be quite lousy (some of the other dishes were more aceptable).  When our waiter -- who was not Sichuanese and didn't seem to have any familiarity with the food -- saw that little had eaten so little, he clucked that he knew it would be too spicy for us.  We won't be returning.  Its sad that the once great Grand Sichuan moniker has become about as meaningful as "Ray's" has become for pizza.

Rsietsema
Rsietsema

I clearly had a much better time of it than you did, Mak, but I did have to let them know in emphatic terms that I wanted the hot stuff. You're, right, it definitely is not as good as the 9th Avenue branch in their heyday, when it was one of the best Chinese restaurants in town, but I'd found it to be falling off in the last couple of years and just stopped going there.

Loading...