Pork Belly w/ Chili Leeks Still Good at the New Szechuan Gourmet

Szechuan Gourmet 56

After Wednesdays false alarm, I excitedly hit up the new location of Szechuan Gourmet (on 56th btw. B’way+8th) yesterday right at noon, only to find out they were still waiting for the city to give them the green light to open (it came about an hour later.) But they were willing to do take out orders- so I did what had to be done: double cooked pork belly with chili leeks, to go, with white rice and hot and sour soup. The version served at the flagship, two starred NYT, restaurant (on 39th btw. 5+6th) is quite possibly my favorite Chinese food dish in the city. But the question remained, would the version at this new location stand up.

Szechuan Gourmet 56

Considering that this could have possibly been the very first plate of double cooked pork belly served out of the kitchen of the new Szechuan Gourmet, I probably wouldn’t have posted anything if it hadn’t lived up to expectations. You know, give them a few weeks to iron out the kinks. Luckily, that was not a concern! Delicious as always. Really delicious. The thinly sliced, fatty pork sauteed with leeks in a slightly sweet Szechuan chili sauce. And the perfect amount of heat (although there are those of you who will undoubtedly want it hotter.)

Szechuan Gourmet 56

The lunch special comes with rice plus your choice of a drink or soup (your choice of wonton or hot and sour.) Both are great versions of two soups that can at times be boring or watery (especially when they come free with lunch.) The only disappointment is the menu’s promise of “free szechuan pickle” went unfulfilled. The employee behind the desk said that because they were just opening, it would come with it today. The implication is, eventually you will get it for free with lunch. All I have to say is they better not change the menus. They’ve gotten my hopes up for free Szechuan pickles, and I want free Szechuan pickles!


My only advice with Szechuan Gourmet is to stick with the Szechuan specialties. The only complaints I’ve ever heard about this place came from those who went expecting the best General Tso’s chicken or beef with broccoli they’ve ever had. That’s a mistake. If you want the best SG has to offer, order one of the Szechuan dishes (they all have chili peppers next to them.) Don’t like spicy food? This might not be the best place for you. (Although I’m sure their Americanized Chinese food dishes are good, just not 2 Stars from the New York Times good.)

First Look: Lunch Menu From the New Szechuan Gourmet
Szechuan Gourmet: Day 1 as a NYT 2 Starred Restaurant

Szechuan Gourmet, 242 W. 56th Street (btw. B’way+8th), 212-265-2226


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    Ordered the same exact thing and it was pretty good, however I found something strangely awful about the hot and sour soup.

  • Pork Belly is gods way of getting revenge on nutcase Halal guys.

  • my boss eats hot and sour soup OFTEN. And now the smell makes me gag

  • I went yesterday and had the Ma Paul Tofu lunch special.

    Just as good as the 39th street location, except the wonton soup was filled to only half container of soup broth.

    Also I noticed that some of the delicacies I’ve tried (intestines:yummy) at the original location are gone from the new spot.

  • Hmmm. I could go for some hot and sour soup. Mmmmm.

    I will try General Tso’s(and/or the variety of other similar chicken) but def. wouldn’t expect anything spectacular or great since it’s american-chinese food.

    Not a big fan of leeks but dish looks really good.

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    I also went yesterday, for the same dish (took a while to find it since your first post said it was on 58th), and also a side of cold sesame noodles. Apparently any time I’ve gotten those before…including at the 39th street location….they gave me the toned-down-for-the-white-guy version. Yesterday’s were much hotter, but still delicious

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    Who orders General Tso’s chicken or beef with broccoli at a Szechuan restaurant?

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    I’m eating the Ma Paul Tofu right now and it’s delicious. The sweat is building on my forehead and nose and 3 people have stopped by my desk to ask me where I got my food. The wonton soup was a watery, but the wontons were good. No pickle either today, I’ll have to call them out on that next time.

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    I’m heading there to sit down right now. Will report on pickles and sundry. Can’t wait.

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    I’m just wrapping up a meal of the pork belly lunch special (L12 in the hizzouse).

    The main dish was absolutely awesome, just as above, but the wonton soup was basically water with two TINY and somewhat terrible dumplings in it. Also, was mildly angered by the lack of pickled vegies.

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    Yes…wasn’t happy with the lack of pickled veg either. I had the pork belly special…and I’m feeling the itis.

  • I guess I should take back what I said about the wonton soup. I didn’t try the 56th Street version… I’ve only had it at 39th Street, where I remember it being really good.

  • What’s a Szechuan pickle and why, how is it even possible, that no one before me has made a dirty joke about this? They didn’t skip out on giving it to you guys, it’s just so small you need a microscope to see it? COME ON PEOPLE IT IS FRIDAY.

    Ahem. I wish they would open one of their locations in the Financial District. I could really use some pork belly.

  • You heard it here first people! Yvo is really jonesing for some Szechuan porking.

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    Had a delicious lunch there today, but I don’t think they are on their A-game just yet. The wonton soup broth was flavorless (whereas 39th has a nice little kick); it was just bad. The Szechuan pork dumplings were smaller and more numerous and arguably slightly less good than at 39th. But the biggest problem was that the braised fish filet (my favorite) was definitely just wrong and inferior to 39th. I thought that maybe I ordered the wrong dish. Stir fried chicken with chilis was pretty much right (though possibly on the salty side).

    I expect/hope them to get straightened out over the next couple weeks. While food memory can be an unreliable thing, I can testify beyond a reasonable doubt that the wonton broth was way different than at 39th, which suggests that other (presumably more complicated) recipes haven’t been perfected yet, to say the least.

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    Had the braised fish with chili miso today and the chicked with roasted and green chilies yesterday. Chicken was excellent, but portion too small and was a tad too salty (and I’m a salt fanatic)-heat was perfect though which made up for it all – would order again. Today’s fish was better portion size and tasty, however almost no heat -and it should have been a 2 star spicy dish… I though the hot/sour soup was pretty decent. Very good overall.

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    Had the pork belly with leeks and string beans with “yiban buds” off the lunch menu. The pork was perfect, no problems. Slightly greasy, spicy, salty, peppery, and the pork not overly fatty. Just right. The string beans were interesting as they didn’t come with a crappy sauce, just a slight amount of ground pork and some dark and salty vegetable matter. Really good. The wonton soup was dishwater and the wontons overcooked and falling apart. I asked about the Szechuan pickle lunch is supposed to come with and the VERY nice and helpful waitress said it was a misprint and was very very apologetic.

    I don’t mind the slightly smaller portions, most good chinese places are starting to do that, as I don’t need gigantor portions of food. Just the right amount for us. I’m going to hit it up later next week a couple of times when hopefully they’ve got everything a bit more ironed out.

    I find the proprietors of the the 39th street branch as well as the help to be pretty closed mouth and somewhat cranky. Perfectly normal behavior in an authentic chinese restaurant, they don’t waste time with niceties, they get right to the food part of the program. But these folks were downright friendly all the way round. When we left three of the cooks were squatting outside smoking and THEY said good-by and thanks. I spoke to them in my awful broken chinese and they laughed and thanked us again. I think they’re putting their best feet forwards.

    I asked the kind waitress, her english is impeccable, about the genesis of the restaurant and she told me one of the chefs from the old Grand Szechuan on 9th and 50th was a co-owner. I described the head chef from there, we used to nod and say hello, and she said indeed that’s who it was and that he’s in and out but usually there at dinner. A good omen.

    Didn’t get a look at the second floor dining room, the first floor is configured oddly with some wasted space and am curious as to their thinking. But aside from all that, they’re off and running and I couldn’t be happier. More later.

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    Mattpol, yo, I bet we sat right next to you… and I forgot!! We put a twenty down for a $16.15 tab and they chose on their own not to bring us change. Always frosts my nutcakes when they take it on themselves to tip themselves… and they thanked us profusely as we left! I guess they liked our (their) tipping… grrrr…

  • Mamacita, I’m currently an Italian sausage only kind of gal. Szechuan pork is not too filling from my impression during past meals.

  • someone on chowhound posted some more inside dope on the links among szechuan gourmet, grand sichuan, and wu liang ye, along with a write up of a meal at the new place:


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