Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan Review: Awesome Chinese food at Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
I would love to take David Sedaris out to dinner at Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan in Flushing Queens. Sure, he might be fresh off of his trip to Chengdu and Beijing, and he might not be ready for the smokey heat of Hunan food. In fact, Flushing might remind Mr. Sedaris too much of China. Here I must confess to agreeing with him on one level: Spitting out in public grosses me out. Of course I’ve done it here and there when it’s absolutely necessary. Who’s a saint? Perhaps spitting is a national exercise in commie land, it’s also fairly common in NYC though. Maybe Mr. Sedaris doesn’t ride the subway often, but at my stop, it regularly smells like someone spliced opened fifty pig colons. Last I checked, this was still New York City, one of the most modern cities in the United States. Dirty subways don’t affect many other modern cities, but here in NY we can’t seem to get away from it. Filty Americans! Oh but the food in this land can dazzle. Sure it’s a land of dried spit and where kids who don’t give a damn regularly litter the streets, but you can still get quality and authentic Chinese food.
I don’t craw the boards at Chowhound because I’m too busy figuring out forums that talk about how to turn my shitty windows mobile phone to launch Android. But if I had the free time, I would have been clued into Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan sooner. As it is, it was brought to my attention by Sam Sifton of The New York Times in February. It’s July now, which gives you an idea how fast I catch on to what’s happening.
Hunan food doesn’t have a huge following here in New York unless you count the various restaurants with the name ‘Hunan’ in its name. Menupages says there are eight of these ‘Hunan’ style restaurants, but they’re probably all just serving up some random form of Chinese food. Just about any American-Chinese take-out spot will have ‘Hunan chicken’ in the poultry section. Safe to assume that Hunan Kichen of Grand Sichuan does it way better.
Following Sifton’s cue, we ordered the cumin lamb. In contrast with the cumin lamb at Szechuan Gourmet, the lamb at Hunan Kitchen of Sichuan is not dry fried. This dish is lamb-y, cumin-y, and completely addictive. The only way to enhance this dish would to be maybe completely cover a baby sheep with cumin and go all barbaric on it. Luckily you don’t have to do that and Mr. Sedaris, no one coughs up phlem in this dining room.
Along with the stir-fried cumin lamb, we tried the BBQ fish. Sifton called it one of the best dishes at Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. Basically it’s fried fish with a sweet potato hash on top. In the hash, there’s some celery and peanuts as well. It’s an imposing dish that requires the diner to dig beneath the mountain of hash to find the fish. The fish was tender although it had a bit of the fishiness you get with river/farmed fish. The spicy sauce on the bottom of the dish helped to cover that up though.
So if you’re like David Sedaris and want good clean food, Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan is a good choice. You wouldn’t have to put up with any craziness you’d get in mainland China. The servers here are even helpful. Since the restaurant can get packed, they take your order in the waiting area so you don’t have to wait too long for food after sitting down. In the middle of dinner one of the kitchen guys tried to unload a full bin of trash out the front door, and was promptly scolded by the hostess. If they could cut that out, this place would be totally clean enough for the likes of David Sedaris, and with food good enough to satisfy just about anyone.
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan42-47 Main St.Queens, NY 11355718-888-0553
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