The Grand Sichuan at 46 street held two food testing dinners on September 7 and 8, and 15 people participated in the testing party. They were from varity of industries and professions, some of them knew Grand Sichuan well and ate at other locations of Grand Sichuan, and most of them could eat spicy food, even very spicy. There were only four Chinese who talked with other people in English. I was the host.
First came six cold dishes: OX tongue & tripe with spicy and peppery sauce, Sliced conch with peppery sauce, Chicken with spicy sauce, Cucumber with scallion sauce, Cold & crispy celery, and Spinach with ginger sauce. All agreed that these dishes were not salty or too sweet, but just fine. The presentation of the cucumber was new, and the sauce of celery was enjoyable because it was a mix of Sichuan spicy sauce and Thai sweet and spicy sauce.
All held the Dan Dan noodles were not spicy enough, and the XieLaoBan’s Dan Dan Noodle was much better.
Two whole fish dishes were tested, and both were cooked with Tilapia. Reviewers like the Braised whole fish with Sichuan hot bean sauce, and felt both the fish texture and the sauce were proper, but suggested whether adopting better fish instead of Tilapia for a steam fish dish.
The radish soup was with different presentation compared to traditional ones: the soup cooked with radish and pig bone was in a big bowl, while another whole radish lay in a slender plate on the side. People tasted the soup just lke the radish, and the whole radish was cut to be shared.
Two “latest” dishes are introduced: Double flavor Salmon fish and Braised beef with red wine sauce. All agreed that the Salmon fish was fine but a little bit overcooked in another day, and the beef was tender, and they liked both presentations, but suggested the replacement of some of ingredients in the Salmon fish dishes. I asked whether we needed to keep these two dishes on our menu because they are not tipical Sichuan dishes, and they replied that I should keep these two.
Spicy dishes were classified into two groups: the current and popular spicy dishes and traditional spicy dishes. Mix aromatic and spicy wok and Sliced fish with spicy water are popular in Beijing now, which had richer, stronger, and heavier taste than traditional spicy dishes such as Double cooked pork, Ma po tu fu, Beef with chili sauce. Most of participants like the Mix aromatic and spic wok, thought it was the most spicy dish on our menu. Some suggested whether we could use less oil in Ma po tu fu, Beef with chili sauce, and Sliced fish with spicy water. My explanation was that these dishes were cooked according to their recipes which had been formatted for many years, and their style and taste came from the spicy oil, but I promised to find proper ways to make changes.
Two dishes with the same name are served for comparision: Dong po pork, Sichuan style and Shangahi style. This dish was invented by famous poet, Su Dong Po, in Tang Dynasty around 1,000 years ago, and was named after Su’s first name. Su’s hometown was in Sichuan Province and he invened the dish in Hangzhou that was close to Shanghai, which resulted in two versions of Dong Po Pork, Shanghai and Sichuan. The house preferred the Sichuan style because it was cooked for 30 hours and had a special texture. However, reviewers liked the Shanghai style better, and assessed it had clear tastes and textures for pork’s skin, fat, and lean.
The smoked tea duck and Beijing duck are on the menu, and only Smoked tea duck was served. In the first evening the duck was near to the perfection: crispy skin and moistured meat, but in the second evening the meat was a little dry.
Finally, vegetable dishes, Dry sauteed string beans, eggplant with brown sauce, and Bean curd in a casserole, were served.
The whole testing last about three hours, and we are grateful to all participants who contributed their time to join us. We sincerely hope more people leave their comments, ideas, suggestions, and even criticism here to help us improve the quality of food and service.
September 11, 2010