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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    Speaking of the Chowhound post, it’s rather a nasty thread once you read down… I appreciate the moderated version over here where posts get closed when the sharper knives come out and people can talk about porking with impunity… thanks for protecting us “lay” folks Zach.

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    aaaand some discreet editor just excised the nastier comments on the Chowhound page. Nice to know there are still teachers on the playground…

  • I finally made it there. The pork belly with chili and leeks lived up to Zach’s hype. The beef tendon was interesting in a good way.

    However, we decided to go all out and try the Bass in a Lake of Fire (as my friend put it). “Braised Whole Bass with spicy hot hot chili & scallion” ($21.95), which came with a 5 pepper warning. I think they must tame this stuff down for americans because the 5 pepper warning is probably on a 1-10 scale. I was afraid because of the comment Zach made about the Ma Paul Tofu, but even with the 5 pepper warning, the heat was “just right” (for someone who likes spicy food and for someone else who was from New Mexico).


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