For my first C - rated restaurant, I took a walk down to Great Sichuan, located at 363 3rd Avenue. The first thing I noticed was that the C Rating wasn’t presented clearly. It took me a minute to find it hiding behind their menu stand (sneaky little buggers.) Sure enough, there it was, the orange “C” that scares so many away, but attracts the specific attention of one lone daredevil seeking to taste the food from so poorly rated restaurants and see for himself if the cuisine reflects the grade.
For the purposes of this project, I ordered a combination of typical American Chinese food (that has little or nothing to do with China) and some more traditional dishes:
General Tso Chicken
Who the hell is this General? What army was he a part of? And why does he make chicken for Americans? There’s so much vagueness around this dish that I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist in China (except for that one Shanghai restaurant based on authentic U.S.A. style Chinese food) and yet it finds it’s way onto every take out menu I’ve ever seen.
Hot and Sour Soup
This changes from place to place. It’s as if every restaurant puts its spin on a simple classic, from how spicy the broth is to how plentiful the ingredients are. This is a good dish to judge a restaurant on, and I planned to do just that.
Pork Soup Dumplings
Classic. Can’t get Chinese food without ordering dumplings. It should literally be illegal. The more authentic the restaurant, the better the dumplings. Vegetable dumplings are the exception. I’ve been to some take out spots that couldn’t be further from traditional Chinese food if they served Chicago deep dish pizza, but they still had good vegetable dumplings. Pork on the other hand - good pork I should say - that’s a rarer find. And soup dumplings are pretty damn official, making this a tall order.
This is a more traditional cold appetizer. Most American customers, who aren’t used to Chinese cuisine, would probably be turned off by the name. It’s not a common cut we order in America, but if you venture to try it, you’ll find it worth the risk.This quickly became one of my favorites to order.
First up is the good old General (I can’t help but imagine a racist version of KFC’s Colonel Sanders trying to pose as Chinese.) This was your average dish. Great Sichuan does it the same as everyone else. Nothing special. No news here.
As for the Hot and Sour, it was BEAUTIFUL, off the chain, on point, de-lish, loved it baby! I hate using exclamation points, by the way, but this deserved it. I found absolutely no staples in my soup (I read that in someone’s yelp review) so either they changed their recipe, or they ran out of office supplies. One way or the other, I’d definitely recommend Great Sichuan’s Hot and Sour Soup. It was the perfect blend of spice and savory flavor, with the right amount of ingredients to keep my spoon dipping for more and never coming up short. As I previously stated, this is a dish I judge a restaurant by, so Great Sichuan is doing pretty well in my eyes right about now.
Soup Dumpling time. This one was a fail. They tried. They meant well. They didn’t make the cut. The pork tasted bland and looked like throw away meat akin to a bologna-spam mash up. They looked a little pathetic when I opened their container, and the taste did not make up for it. You’re dropping the ball, Great Sichuan. Come on buddy, I had high hopes for you.