Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area Brookline

Rice Garden, Washington Sq., Brookline


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Restaurants & Bars 7

Rice Garden, Washington Sq., Brookline

Limster | Jan 20, 2004 01:22 AM

With all the praises sung here, I definitely had to check it out. :)

"the redness of wild chrysanthemums" is a flowery name for finely chopped beef, not minced, but cut to the approximate softness and dimensions of petals. A lake of red oil, tiny dice of clean clear celery, perfect small squares of red and green bell peppers for colour and layer after layer of toasty herb and wood-flavoured peppercorns, numbing narcotic. Most Sichuan places use these sparingly, and bolster the heat level with chilli, the result is heat without numbness; here they don't, and the balance between numbness ("ma") and spiciness ("la") is correctly played out to a very enjoyable result. I was very impressed, but not surprised, given what has already been mentioned by many sharp chowhounds here (see the thread started by Zatan; linked below).

I also asked for dessert, and they were happy to oblige with fried sweet potato in caramel that I didn't see on the menu. This dish served with a bowl of cold water on the side, and one dips the fried caramel coated pieces into the cold water. This causes the hot and soft melted sugar to solidify into a crystalline sweet shell, crunchy against the softer sweet potato. They also make apple and banana versions (the last is my favourite). Not a very common dessert (had it 3 times total, once at Wing's which wasn't as good as this one, once at Jai Yun in SF, the coda of a 30 course banquet and then here at RG); and apparently rather time-consuming to make according to the young chef, who happens to be a native Sichuanese, even though I think this dessert has more of an Eastern Chinese origin. He said that he would only be able to make it at off-peak times.

I only had these two dishes, but if their quality is reflective of everything else, I would pick this place over Sichuan Garden quite easily.

BTW, the pictures of the dishes on the walls were ones prepared by him, even though they aren't Sichuanese. In fact, they look like Cantonese dishes. One of the ladies there mentioned that he had to learn how to prepare different Chinese cuisines when he was at the Beijing Grand Hotel, so he might have a reasonably large repeitoire. I'm looking forward to seeing how deep and far it extends.


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