I have a lot to talk about! This post combines a couple of meals—lunch with my friends Sacha and Scott and a business dinner. (Most prices listed here are dinner prices, lunch is always cheaper.) So I got to try a lot of things.
I am just going to sort of jump around with some of the stuff. Combined, I tried several appetizers/dim sum items (dim sum is only available at lunch). I really enjoyed the shrimp and chive dumplings—very chive-filled for sure (I am thinking maybe some scallions too). Nicely pan-seared giving a little crispy edge. Not a ton of shrimp, but just enough to give it a fuller consistency. At dinner we tried the scallion pancake ($3.50), crab Rangoon ($5.95), pot stickers ($5.95), and the just straight up dumplings ($4.50). Of these, I probably liked the dumplings and pot stickers the best. The pot stickers were nicely pan-fried as well, giving just a touch of crunch on the outside and the dumplings were softer, and sitting in a spicy chili/soy broth. But it was nice to have some of the fried items to go along with the dumplings—the crab Rangoon were more cream-cheesy than crabby, but were fried just right and were super hot and crunchy. The scallion pancakes is crispy, but with a softness as well. Lots of fresh green scallion flavor.
|potstickers and dumplings|
|crab rangoon and scallion pancake|
Of the various entrées I had over the course of both meals, some of the highlights were the pan fried green beans with little crispy bits of pork belly ($8.95 for dinner portion, lunch is cheaper)—the beans still had a snap, but had a slightly blistered skin from the heat. I also really enjoyed the Chengdu braised fish in hot chili oil. This one probably had the most kick of all the dishes. The fish was tender and was lovely over the rice served alongside. A table favorite was the shredded pork with garlic sauce ($9.95). This dish was a bit spicy as well, and had a rich garlic sauce. There were lots of sliced onions and red and green peppers as well. I liked the way that the meat and the veggies were all sliced similarly to each other, giving just the right proportion of all the flavors in each bite.
We also had the fried squid with salt and pepper ($14.95). I generally love salt and pepper items, and the crust on this had a good crunch and flavor, but the pieces of squid suffered the chewy fate that it so often does. Based on the flavor of it though, the fried fish fillet with salt and pepper is on my list for my next visit. I think with more tender fish, this dish will be super tasty. Salty and a fair dose of pepper as well. I can’t wait. We also had the shrimp and garlic sauce ($13.95). This one was good as well—tender plump shrimp plus more fresh veggies—bigger ones here if you’re looking for a more balanced meal between protein and veg. There was broccoli, red pepper chunks and peapods. I enjoyed it, although it was a bit blander than the other dishes. The beef chow fun was an interesting one as well, and also not spicy. The homemade thick noodles were sautéed with scallions, bean sprouts, and large pieces of sliced beef. This is more of a soy-based sauce, with maybe just a touch of sweetness. I liked the fresh noodles. That’s pretty much my story in any type of cuisine though.
|beef chow fun|
For me, the biggest miss was my lunch order of sautéed eggplant with basil sauce (and I asked them to add some chicken). In the past when I have dined at Szechwan Garden, I have seen people eating big plates of eggplant and I always wanted to get it, even though I wasn’t exactly sure which dish it was (there are several eggplant dishes on the menu). This dish was really overly oily and had little flavor at all. I actually tried to order the garlic-based eggplant dish at dinner to see if it was better (and to see if my lunch may have just been a fluke), but somehow it got forgotten and by the time we realized it, we had all had WAY too much to eat to order more. So, someday maybe I will figure out the mysterious eggplant dish.
Which brings me to my final thought, how can you ever really get a handle on this place? How do you even know what to begin to order when there are 374 menu items (plus the dim sum)? So do you order something new every time or stick with old favorites? I know I am trying the salt and pepper fish next time, but that’s about as far as I can get. How do you guys handle it and what are your favorite items?
3649 Lafayette Road