Sichuan Blues

By Ratha Tep Posted April 10, 2007

As I noted in my first ever Mouthing Off entry, Sichuan Obsession, I adore Grand Sichuan’s Hell’s Kitchen outpost. So imagine my dismay, resentment, and general sense of despondency when I found out that it was closed by the Department of Health several weeks ago. (I was en route to—where else?—50th Street when the friend I was meeting, who had gotten there before me, called to deliver the news.) Every few days since then, I’ve dialed the restaurant’s number, hoping (vainly?) that one of the hosts would finally pick up—so I could rush over and get my Sichuan-wonton-with-red-oil fix. But earlier today, instead of getting endless ringing (during which I’d imagine the hosts scrubbing the floors, dousing the kitchen with bleach or getting hand-washing lessons), I just got an automated message stating that the number was no longer in service. GASP! OUTRAGE! PANIC!

I called the 24th Street location and demanded to know what was going on. I was informed that the 50th Street location had lost its lease, but that management was trying to secure a new one. Whatever the truth behind the closing, until a newer, cleaner Hell’s Kitchen Grand Sichuan emerges, I’ll just look over my copy of the “Prodigal Daughter’s Dishes of Chinese Emperor” menu. While words won’t cure the bland taste in my mouth, just reading about these hilariously-named dishes have always made it curl happily upward. A sampling:

-Dish name: “We would be two—love birds flying wing to wing on high.” Dish description: “Sautéed baby chicken pieces with fresh ginger and spicy."

-Dish name: “The white-feathered egrets flying over broad water fields.” Dish description: “Sliced large shrimp over soft bean curd in brown sauce.”

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