Grand Szechuan is the Twin Cities area restaurant we eat at most often. Rather than report on every meal, for the last few years I’ve been posting yearly roundups instead. This year we weren’t there as often as usual. This is largely because we were gone for a chunk of the year, and given how much we ate out in the UK, and the fact that it was good to be back in our own kitchen, we didn’t eat out very much for the first few months after our return either. This roundup therefore includes a few dishes eaten at meals in the mid and late summer but mostly comprises a blowout meal we ate there this last Sunday with what has become our regular eating-out crew. As last restaurant meals of the year go, it was a very good one. And we ate so much that it also ended up being our last meal of the year—we passed on dinner.
At this point we have eaten almost everything on the menu—with the exception, mostly, of some of the dishes that are iterations of others we’ve eaten. As a result, there’s not a lot of new (to us) dishes being reported on here. It’s good to confirm though that many old favourites are as good now as they were when we first ate them (though one has been redone in the opposite direction). For the names of the dishes and brief descriptions/evaluations, please launch the slideshow below. I apologize in advance for the poor quality of many of these photos—at dinner or when seated all the way in away from natural light, my camera has some difficulty with white balance etc.
Let’s start with the most recent meal. These strips of crunchy, cartilagey pork ears in chilli oil are always a treat.
So are the thinly shaved slices of beef tongue in more or less the same dressing.
While, I’m allowed dictatorial power over ordering by this group, this is one of two dishes it is understood I will always order. It was very good again.
We got two orders of this—one mild, for the kids, and one regular for the rest of us.
This was rather good. Crispy on the outside and yielding on the inside, the interplay of textures was very good as was the balance of the heat and the sweetness of the sauteed onions and peppers.
This is not on the printed menu (it’s on the Chinese menu by the entrance). It’s very good indeed. You can also get the pompano in a black bean sauce.
This is the other dish I am required to always order. You only have to eat it once to know why.
It had been a while since we’d got this—it was excellent. Perfectly fried with a nice balance of spicy, sweet and salty notes.
A bit spotty in the past, these were very good on this occasion.
This was a first-time order. It divided the group a bit but I really liked it. I think I could eat a whole order by myself.
Another old favourite we hadn’t gotten in a while. Cuminy with a crisp surface and chewy interior.
I don’t eat eggplant but them that do loved it.
Beloved of children and adults alike, this was excellent as always. We felt a little guilty afterwards, watching the staff de-string a veritable mountain of beans at a table in the back.
A good textural counterpart and a good relief dish, this is a bit much to get if you’re not in a big group. This ends the account of our big meal this past Sunday.
We got these earlier in the summer—excellent as always with the chewy noodles and the sweet-sour-spicy sauce.
We get their version of soup dumplings once every few years and are never satisfied.
This was another one that split the group on the occasion we ordered it. Again, I liked it.
It can be a bit variable here but it was very good on this occasion.
This used to be one of our kids’ favourite dishes but they’ve changed it. It’s now far less sticky and in my opinion somewhat less appetizing looking for it. Tasted good though.
You have to like soft tofu but if you do, you’ll like this.
Cooked with cauliflower this is another good change-up dish.
Basically the same dish as the pompano but with walleye. It’s better (and more expensive) with the crispy walleye.
Very good, especially if you get it extra hot (don’t eat the sauce!)
And since I don’t think I’ve ever posted pictures of the the restaurant itself, here are a few.
They were not as busy as usual this Sunday. I put this down to the sub-zero temperature and the Vikings game. But it was also not as empty as these pictures make it seem. I took these when we left at 2.30, at the absolute end of their lunch rush.
Our meal on Sunday comprised fifteen dishes. We were eight adults and two children (who together ate enough for one adult). So counting us as 9 adults, with a generous tip we came to a total of $25/head. This is almost criminally good value. It goes without saying that we’ll be back often in 2018. Unfortunately, they don’t have any new dishes planned for the lunar new year but they did tell us about a new dish featuring beef heart that’s not on the menu. Next time!
Okay, for the next couple of weeks you can expect a steady diet of reviews of our remaining meals in Los Angeles. After that we’ll back to eating on University Avenue in St. Paul.