At Ollie’s, of all places, they’re doing some solid Sichuan cooking. The newest outpost of the Manhattan mini-empire–known among hounds for uneven, all-over-the-map Chinese food–has a distinct regional focus, unlike its sister restaurants.
Sichuan dishes turn up here and there on the long menu, including a section labeled “New Wave Sichuan.” One satisfying choice is thin-sliced beef with diced red chiles and a strong, welcome dose of cumin, advises Striver. Another is tender lamb and light-fleshed fish in a deep-flavored broth with notes of star anise and fennel as well as chile, topped with a handful of dried peppers. Under “Traditional Sichuan Flavors,” you’ll find a decent version of water-cooked beef (“sliced beef Sichuan style” on the menu): tender meat in fiery, ruddy broth powerfully seasoned with red chile and Sichuan peppercorn.
Among the smaller dishes, Ollie’s dan dan noodles “won’t put Grand Sichuan out of business,” Striver notes, but they’re good, as are other choices, including a selection of cold spicy meats. Mung bean noodles are reminiscent of Wu Liang Ye’s, suggests small h–fresh, springy, and clean-tasting, flavored with scallion, cilantro, chile oil, and a load of crushed garlic.
While it’s an option for theatergoers, Ollie’s Sichuan (which succeeds the troubled Bistro du Vent) is somewhat out of the way and less frenetic than the 44th Street Ollie’s. “It will hopefully stay that way,” adds Striver.