Thursday, March 20, 2014

Szechwan Garden - Revisit

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.
chive dumplings
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.

Green beans
Chengdu Fish
Shredded pork

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.
garlic shrimp
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?

Szechwan Garden
3649 Lafayette Road
Indy 46222

Szechwan Garden on Urbanspoon


  1. I love Szechwan Garden. I almost always order the Green beans with pork and Stir Fried Rice with Salted Fish and then try a new dish. If I feel like fish, I ask about the fish dishes that look interesting and then ask what is your favorite, then just try it. We are lucky to be part of Chinese community and often meet there and order variety of dishes. This gives me chance to try new things. I wish they were able to do the cart service style of dim sum. Loved when we lived places that did that and then I would just point. Going with a crowd and ordering variety of things like beef dish, pork dish etc. I think this place and other true Chinese food restaurants are happy to share with you and love seeing people try new things. One time when we were in China where no one spoke English and menu had no pictures, we used translation cards we had to let them know we would like a pork, beef, chick and fish dishes. It was the best meal we had on that trip.

  2. This place is really close to my house, but I've only been a few times. Every time we've gone we've enjoyed the food a lot. The shredded pork with garlic sauce (which you pictured above) is just one we ordered and really like. We usually try and let everyone order one dish and vary the meat so we can all try different things. The Mongolian beef was really good, too. With such a huge menu, it came seem overwhelming, so we're just finding dishes we really like and then ordering them again, and then on the ones that aren't totally wowing us, we'll try something different. Also, some of us like spicy and others not so much, so we try to order some of both.

    My husband has been to China and likes Chinese food there--this is about the only place here in Indy he's found that he think is "real Chinese" & will consent to go. ;)

    As a side note, the beef chow fun dish above is a standard Cantonese dish for dim sum--so this restuarant is doing both Cantonese and Sczechuan/Hunan (spicy) dishes.

  3. I hear great things about this restaurant, so finally tried via carry out.
    “Chinese Food” family favorite is Lo Mein. All 6 of us agree we really did not care for their version. My husband thought it tasted like 'liquid smoke' was an ingredient. My kids couldn't articulate exactly what they thought was wrong (other than 'not really good'). The chicken cuts were very good with no fat or gristle. The noodles were different, but can’t remember how to describe. The thing that stuck out most was the flavor – smoky is the best was to describe.
    Our Sweet and Sour Chicken was a container of fried chicken with a container of sweet and sour sauce on the side. This is not my idea of "real Chinese"; but my kids do like this version.
    The brocolli chicken was my favorite of the three items, but was a bit bland on the sauce. A little soy sauce did the trick for me.
    Bottom line: we were extremely happy with the quality of meat and vegetables. But unfortunately the ‘flavor’ did not excite us. And the Lo Mein was a deal breaker, as we always order.
    My suggestion: Stick with a favorite, but order a new dish as well if going for more. That way you're always happy with the standard, but may find a new favorite along the way.

  4. ^lol you do realize all the food you ordered is not authentic
    Chinese. Not even lo mein. The speciality at Szechuan garden szechuan style Chinese food haha...

  5. ^^The problem is that the none of the food you ordered is "real chinese" food lol. You can't find sweet and sour chicken or broccoli and chicken in China. If you order Szechuan food there-I'm 100% sure it'll be much better-Melinda.

  6. The eggplant dish I usually get is "Fish Flavor" eggplant. or maybe "Fish sauce" eggplant. I'm not 100% sure on the translation. Its usually a very popular eggplant dish among Chinese and thats probably what they were eating. I also enjoy a Cumin Lamb dish.