Dong Hai Grill is Better Than Szechuan Gourmet?!?

Since today is Chinese New Year, and many (myself included) will be seeking out some Chinese food today to celebrate, I figured it would be a good day to post this interesting email I got the other day:

“So there are some new designers (women) for a new line that we are launching that are not afraid to eat good food (yesterday they had Lazzarra’s here delivering pizza). The other day they were eating delivery Chinese and it smelled great. So I asked the “from where” and they replied Dong Hai Grill. I then said I have a great place for you, and one said “what Szechuan Gourmet?” I sad “yes” and before I could even finish saying yes, she retorted “we like Dong Hai much better”. Now I often walk by Dong Hai (on 39th btw. 6th+B’way) but have always ignored it. I have never eaten there. Now my curiosity was peaked.”

More on the menu and food, is after the jump…

“The Menu: Lunch special menu is somewhat limited. The overall menu is less interesting than Szechuan Gourmet. I typically get nervous about places that serve Chinese and Japanese never mind Chinese, Japanese and Thai! They offer shanghai soup dumplings with crab and pork, which I generally love.

The Food: I’ve only been one time so I need to taste more. I ordered General Tso’s lunch special because so many people screw it up by making it too sweet, too much sauce, too mushy, etc. Their General Tso’s was very good. In the league with Szechuan Gourmet, although I usually order a Szechuan dish from Szechuan Gourmet, sometime I get a General Tso’s craving. They offer pork fried rice with the lunch special which is more exciting than plain rice. Their Hot & Sour soup was more to my liking because it had more tanginess to it. I plan to go back and try more dishes. It is worth a visit.  -Jason”

Nice… sounds good. But better than Szechuan Gourmet? Let’s not get crazy. I respect the ladies in your office, but if you go to Szechuan Gourmet expecting the “best Chinese food” in the city, and then order beef and broccoli or sesame chicken you will be disappointed. I love those things just as much as the next guy, but that’s not what Szechuan Gourmet is known for. For the full SG experience, you have to get something like this:

Beef Tendon @ Szechuan Gourmet

or this:

Double Cooked Pork Belly w/ Chili Leeks @ Szechuan Gourmet, Midtown

Does Dong Hai have sliced beef tendon or twice cooked pork belly with chili leeks this good? Doubtful. SG is just a different animal altogether, and probably shouldn’t be compared with most of the standard Chinese restaurants in Midtown. That being said, I will definitely hit up Dong Hai for some general tso’s chicken. (You know I love it!)  Any other Midtown Lunchers been to Dong Hai? What do you think?

Szechuan Gourmet: Day 1 as a NYT 2 Starred Restaurant


  • What’s the difference between Gen. Tso and sesame chicken? I always get the latter because i like sesames but it’s still looks the same as the tso’s.

  • @ Mamacita – besides the no sesame seeds, in theory General Tso’s is supposed to be spicy… but at most places there is very little difference (I think)

  • I’ve been there once with a fellow authentic Chinese food aficionado. They have a separate menu for those who want the non-General Tso’s type food. A good way to compare all the Szechuan restaurants is to see how they do their Beef Stew noodle soup. That’s a staple you’ll see everywhere. With that said, Dong Hai’s is pretty good, but I never tried Szechuan Gourmet’s yet.

    BTW, Zach, most Chinese restaurants will probably be closed today for the New Year.

  • I used to rock Dong Hai for dinner at work when I was forced to stay late. They have these ridiculous specials on appetizers and sushi if you placed the order before 6pm (I think everything was half-off, but can’t recall). So I suggest looking into their deals for when you go, so that you can really monopolize how much you order w/o too big of a hit on the wallet.

  • @Ted – SG and Dong Hai are both open today… actually, I thought most places *were* open so people have a place to celebrate… ?

  • The bigger celebration day is actually New Year’s Eve for us. The actual day is much like the American version, you go out, see family, but nothing too crazy.

  • I really want some fried chicken in sweet sauce now… damn you Zach~!!!

  • I have this weird rule that if you’re a Chinese restaurant, you serve Chinese food. If you’re a sushi restaurant, you serve sushi. If you’re a Chinese restaurant that also serves sushi that probably means either your profit margin on Chinese food is too low or you don’t have enough business purely in Chinese food that you have to dabble in sushi.

    Also, sichuan or szechuan restaurants are a different category of beasts. Dong Hai is not a sichuan restaurant. Let me put this to you plainly:

    At DH, you can’t eat a big bowl of boiled beef fillet that swims in chili oil. And your bunghole is not going to be burning when that shit comes out. I’m just saying. Some people don’t dig that.

    Yea yea, too much detail.

  • Missing from the discourse Zach is WHY they liked it better. Fans of Dong Hai like it because it is cheap. One guy I work with will walk an extra mile to save 50 cents on his lunch – he loves Dong Hai, 38, places like that. Ask him which TASTES better, of course he says Szechuan G.

    I could probably sell him my morning dump for a buck and save him the walk.

  • Agree with everyone about the two restaurants being different ‘animals’ and wanted to point out that Feed Me is correct – the big meal is the night before, I think today you’re meant to eat vegetarian. Which I don’t do, but I believe that’s what I’ve heard, to cleanse the system or something.
    Happy lunar new year…

  • Sorry! I didn’t mean to pretend I know shit about Chinese customs (I don’t)… I just meant that I’m pretty sure most Chinese places are open today. Definitely in Midtown, and I’m guessing in Manhattan’s Chinatown as well.

  • @Ted,

    So can anyone score us a photo/scan of the secret menu?

  • lol sorry I wasn’t trying to lambast you, eat what you want whenever you want! Just explaining the kind of theory or thinking behind what you eat/when you eat for the lunar new year.
    BTW, you did good, noodles are a symbol of longevity so it’s good to eat that on any significant holidays… haha. I’m really far removed from this stuff, so it’s all 3rd hand or further info.

  • Absolutely, I agree with Yvo in terms of eating what you want. I’m about as non-traditional as possible. I wasn’t supposed to clean and what not today, but I showered, shaved my head and about to go wash my car.

    Have a good one, since the Lunar New Year technically lasts for 15 days.

  • More on the General Tso’s discussion… In my findings, most places do seem more on the sweet side, but if you want one that has a little bit of a kick to it, Mee Noodle Shop on 2nd & 49th definitely leans towards spicy. They even put in 2 little dried up chili’s in the container to prove they ain’t fooling around, but not at the same level on the scoville scale as 53rd Halal dudes, however.

  • Feed Me – GASP you shaved your head?! You cut off all your fortune! Hahahaha I’ve cleaned on CNY for the past 3 years (not this one) because it was always the only day I had free to clean. I’ve done OK :)

  • Forgot to mention that Dong Hai used to be called “Double Star” which of course needed a nickname…. “Double SARS” (was around the time of the asian outbreak)

    After the name change the “double” stuck, so now it is called (what else)


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