Well, my daughter and I did, indeed, go to Sichuan Garden II (as per the menu) for an early dinner. The place was empty when we arrived a little before 5. We were ushered to a small room that held 4 (I think) tables with white table clothes. Those plus the elevator music (or perhaps it was one cut above that?) and the building itself set a discordant tone for a Chinese meal.
I ordered Ox Meat and Tripe with Roasted Chilli-Peanut Sauce (a must-have on such outings; they do not serve Hot and Sour Wonton Soup, which is my other love), Steamed Mini Juicy Pork Buns, and Cellophane Noodles with Minced Pork (my beloved "Ants"). My daughter ordered Sweet and Pungent Chicken and rice.
After we had waited for a pretty long time, the waiter informed us that the buns would take 15 minutes. I wish he had said that when we ordered, because my daughter had started saying she was starving by then. Shortly thereafter, the Ox Meat and Tripe arrived. Their version was pretty spicy and had a lot of the tongue-numbing quality that is associated with Sichuan peppercorns. Although I prefer Sichuan Gourmet's less fiery version, I suspect that would be a matter of personal preference.
Then the rest of the meal arrived. I had to ask whether my daughter's chicken was the correct thing, because this was just a plate of chicken fingers with a small condiment-sized bowl of slightly pink sauce. I gather that is how they do the Sweet and Pungent Chicken there. My daughter didn't like it, but I figure this is not a good test of such a restaurant.
I had never had juicy pork buns before and ordered them because I have read about them several times. They were really yummy! Easily consumed in one bite, the juices burst out as one ate them, making the unusually fine-flavored filling oh-so-succulent.
The "Ants" were very good, perhaps not as astonishingly so as the times I had gotten them at Brookline location, but still better than any competitor's rendition.
The rice, oddly enough, did not taste/feel fresh. I'd like to think that is not the case, but it seemed left-over. Odd.
The service was spotty and a bit flaky. Two other couples arrived while we were there, and we had a hard time getting the waiter's attention, even when it wasn't busy. I don't know when the restaurant actually opened, but they may still be working out some kinks.
My main incentive for returning will be to have those wonderful juicy pork buns again. (Is there any other place in the 'burbs that offers those?) That alone will allow me to try a few more things on the menu.
Sichuan Garden II
2 Alfred St.
Mon-Th 11:30-10; Fri + Sat 11:30-11; Sun + Hols 12-10.