Some familiar faces have turned up at the newish Great Sichuan, and Lau figures that's one reason it's looking like an instant contender. Sliced pork with green chiles, spring onions, and "house special sauce" was perfectly cooked, delivering the characteristic ma la (numbing and spicy) punch with a bit of sweetness. Dry sautéed string beans were tender and well seasoned, with a touch of char from the wok. Wonton in red oil was another winner, distinguished by a spot-on hot/sweet sauce.
Overall, Lau adds, it was better than his recent meals at the hound-endorsed Szechuan Gourmet. The team behind this new venture includes a former manager and two chefs from another local favorite, Grand Sichuan. Don't hesitate to seek menu guidance from the boss, who's friendly, approachable, and fluent in English.
scoopG enjoyed Great Sichuan's double-cooked pork and sautéed water spinach, but found the cumin lamb and dan dan noodles a bit underpowered. He'd also prefer to see more Sichuan menu choices and less televised entertainment, which blares out from two large screens overlooking the dining room.
Another newcomer, Old Sichuan, got off to a shaky start when it opened early this year in Chinatown, but recently things have been looking up. buttertart reports a fantastic version of chicken with three peppers, nicely hot and sour with black vinegar, and delicious silk squash with scallops, a welcome mild counterpoint to the spicy stuff. Cumin lamb, dan dan noodles, and fried buns stuffed with ground chicken have also won praise. The chicken and scallop dishes were daily specials, so be sure to check out the blackboard.
Great Sichuan [Murray Hill]
363 Third Avenue (between E. 26th and 27th streets), Manhattan
Old Sichuan [Chinatown]
65 Bayard Street (between Mott and Elizabeth streets), Manhattan