C-rated Restaurant Reviews – Great Sichuan

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.

Beef Tendon

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.

On to the Beef Tendon. Now, this dish is usually a thin cut meat with some cartilage in there. A little chewy, but tasty none the less. This order had a little more beef and not enough tendon, but the meat wasn’t bad. A good amount of spice with fresh cilantro to balance it. It was decent, but not what I expected when I made my order. In defense of Great Sichuan, they might be cutting their tendon differently to compromise with American customers, but I feel like if you’re going to put an authentic dish on the menu, you have to serve it authentically.
All in all, I’d say Great Sichuan passed the test. Its grade does not reflect its flavor. As far as side effects to eating at a C rated restaurant, I had a few but they were subtle. There was some sweat, but I attribute that to spice instead of fever. I made this order stretch over three days. During that period, I had to take more bathroom breaks than usual, but I wouldn’t say I had the runs. I only had to walk to my office bathroom (with an occasional hop.) And, although I am currently writing this article while sitting on the porcelain throne and listening to my coworkers type away on the other side of the door, I have to say, this isn’t that bad.
No food poisoning. No staples. Not super authentic, but not that bad. If I were to grade this restaurant based on my own rubric, it would get a B, maybe a B+, but not a C.
This job is expanding my waistline.

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