Grand Sichuan International – St. Mark’s Place
I was recently attended an informal food blogger dinner. Basically, James of The Eaten Path sent out an email and managed to gather a really great group of food bloggers. It was kind of amazing to sit there and pick the brains of these people with much better blogs than mine; or just sit there and absorb while many topics close to (most) bloggers’ hearts were discussed, such as monetizing, advertising, and lots of other similar words.
In attendance: Zach of Midtown Lunch, Nichelle of Cupcakes Take the Cake, Talida of Talida Bakes, Robyn of The Girl Who Ate Everything, Danny of Food in Mouth, Ulla of Goldilocks Finds Manhattan, Cathy of Not Eating Out in NY, Lindsey of Lush Life (not a food blog but a spirits/cocktail blog!),
One of the great things about eating with a big group of mostly-adventurous eaters is being able to order a large variety and trying so many different things. This was my first time at Grand Sichuan, but Robyn and others had been there multiple times (Robyn especially!), so I sat back and didn’t try to take part in the ordering process. Dishes quickly began to appear on the table, but I was too busy trying to snap pictures of everything to remember the names of it all! Oops! Perhaps one of the other lovely attendees will stop by to help me remember what we ate
I think this was tea smoked duck; I enjoyed this but it didn’t particularly stand out among all the dishes I tried.
Pumpkin/kabocha (I don’t know which one)! It was alright. I’m not a big pumpkin fan but this was pretty tasty, and very mellow comparative to everything else on the table.
BOWL OF FIRE. I didn’t even attempt to try a small piece of this; when it arrived, the top was completely covered in chilis (in the blurry photo, they are pushed to the right side of the bowl) and brightBRIGHT red. I listen to the warning signs. It was described as a fish something or other; the fish looks pretty good, and I didn’t hear any complaints, though those chilis terrified me. Even more terrifying was watching Talida take a chili and eat it straight, then tell me “Yeah, it’s kind of spicy.” Crazy woman!
Cucumbers in scallion oil. Really delicious and bright tasting – a very good palate cleanser between bites of spicy-ish food.
Jellyfish that I believe was also coated in the same scallion oil, and very yummy. I like jellyfish and its slightly strange, bouncy texture, but if you’re not used to it, that might be the killer for you.
Beef tendons… chewy as expected, pretty tasty anyway.
Yummy veggies! To me, you can’t really go wrong with dark leafy greens cooked in the Chinese manner (slightly steamed, or sauteed, or stir fried, or steam fried, with garlic… mmmmmmm….)
Same goes for this dish, another dish of similar but different veggies. Also, don’t ask me names of Chinese veggies, I will likely never know them.
Cumin beef – absolutely delicious and scrumptious!
Soup dumplings! Not bad, but not the best I’ve ever had, either.
Mapo tofu. I wasn’t impressed… but this was the first time I had it in a restaurant (the first time being when I, um, made it myself), so maybe I should have been. It wasn’t super spicy (which is good!) but I didn’t expect to see it so saucy. I must try making mine again with a bit more sauce to it!
Shredded pork with bean curd and Chinese celery. This was only alright – I expected more flavor, but another dish totally surprised me…
because it’s chicken. I don’t know what was in this or what it was called but zOMG good! I’ll be honest – I’ve been stealing the names from Robyn’s Flickr to be completely honest (and she has much better pictures of the dishes that night!) – but I would definitely order this dish again, no question.
Overall, the food was great, and it came out to like $25 or so a person, including a pitcher of beer and all of that food above (maybe I missed a dish or two?). Great introduction to the cuisine with so many fabulous dishes and a wide variety. I will no longer think of St. Mark’s Place as strictly for Japanese food…
Yvo says: I think this is a great place in an even greater location – the food is reasonably priced, and if you go with a large group, you really get to try a lot of dishes and eat very well for inexpensively, family style. Going with just one or two other people, you can still order a number of dishes, though of course, you should expect leftovers and a slightly higher bill. The food is super flavorful here – there’s a lot going on, with spicy foods, sweet & savory items (at the same time, mind you) – and just really delicious. Go here. And maybe pay more attention to the names of the dishes you order than I did – I was too busy trying to absorb the knowledge being dropped on me.