Christmas Day in Bay Ridge !
I dislike the addage that a Jewish Christmas is identified as a day of Chinese food and a movie, though by fluke, that was our day.
Bolt, a sadly obvious and stereotype reinforced, tale of a lost television star dog was course one. Thank G-D for my blackberry ( ive never said that before )and a few trips with my kids to the bathroom, or I would have lost my mind. Though towards the end of the film, I was focused on my coming trip to Grand Sichuan and was able to ignore the Hollywood self congratulation that was the smirk and pointless Bolt.
The trip by car form Park Slope to Bay Ridge is an easy 20 minute drive, and in the heart of Bay Ridge emerges Grand Sichuan House ( 5th Avenue and 87th Street), a small, plain storefront with seating for 40, and basic decor.
My wife and I began with steamed pork soup dumplings and Hot Sichuan Dan Dan Noodles. The dumplings were a perfect ten, soft and flavorful pork was held by a delicious and textured dumpling casing. The bites were moist and sweet and well flavored. 8 to an order, over a light bed of cabbage, pure heaven. The noodles were bathed in a delicious hot and rich sauce; spaghetti noodles were rightly soft and not overdone and they together held the sauce just right. The tastes are unique and rightly spiced. Chili oil and cumin were the dominant new flavors.
My kids enjoyed greaseless lo mien and spring rolls. The vegetables were crunchy and flavored, with delicious chicken pieces highlighting each bite. The spring roles were average and well fried, crunchy and vegetarian.
Bring on the dancers.
We then continued with two total gems, shredded duck with spring ginger and pea shoots with garlic. The duck was brilliant and the antithesis of the hanging fat laden duck that I still crave and always find unsatisfying from a Mott Street window. This duck was well cooked and skinless, rich pieces combined with brightly julienned vegetables in a rich and defined ginger garlic sauce that was light and aromatic. The duck was tender and was accented by duck skin that had been separately fried and combined in the dish as a light crackling. We combined the duck with the pea shoots which were bright and perfectly steamed. Abundant large garlic slices were the right accent to this crunchy side. More textured and less heavy than spinach, the shoots were crunchy and fresh. The perfect complement.
As my kids loved the duck, we needed one more dish to keep the pea shoots company and chose the spicy beef, which was similarly served with sliced veggies in a rich and alarming brown sauce. The beef like the duck was tender and perfectly cooked. The meat is spicy, and did well by a rice or veggie backdrop. It was my kind of hot, and likely a bit too much fire for my wife who kept singing about the duck as I continue into round three of pea shoots and duck and beef.
My family moved to Brooklyn in 04' from the Upper West Side, and in that time, I have had ZERO edible Chinese meals, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, P. Slope have no options beyond grease laden, gloopy egg rolls and General Tsos. This lone trip restored my belief in the world's most populous country's export of choice in my eyes.
It has been trendy and fair to proclaim Chinese food dead in New York, I now beg to differ. Run to Grand Sichuan House.