Grand Szechuan, 2022 (Bloomington, MN)


As I have said many times before, Grand Szechuan in Bloomington is probably our family’s favourite restaurant in Minnesota. It is the place we eat at the most, the place we’ve eaten at the most with the largest cross-section of our Minnesota friends, and the place we’ve probably taken more out-of-town guests to than any other. Through the first two years of the pandemic we got takeout from them at a steady tick, and this February they were the first Minnesota restaurant all four of us ate together at. I’ve previously chronicled that happy return on the blog. This report covers three other meals we ate in at Grand Szechuan over the rest of the year, mostly in the company of our usual Grand Szechuan crew. I can’t think of a more appropriate restaurant with which to close out my year in restaurant meal reports/reviews.

The three meals were eaten at the end of March, the end of August and the end of October. The March and August outings were smaller meals (by our standards); the October meal was a bit more excessive. There were a number of constants across the meals. We always get the green beans and the boys always insist on the dan dan chicken. And it’s a pretty unusual Grand Szechuan outing if we don’t also get the Triple Flavour Squid/Spicy Squid Roll—in fact, at the October meal we got two orders!). A couple of other things repeated as well across a couple of meals (the Couple’s Beef, the Beef Tongue in Chilli Oil and the Mapo Tofu). On the whole, we ate a number of our very favourite dishes across these meals. Though, of course, given the size of the menu we could only eat some of our very favourite dishes across even three meals. (I will remind you of the guide I posted at the end of last year to ordering from that capacious menu.)

Speaking of the capacious menu: we have not been back to Grand Szechuan since the late-October meal. On Sunday, I received a note from a long-time reader of the blog whose family had made their regular Christmas lunch visit to Grand Szechuan only to discover that the large menu was not presented. They were given a more makeshift menu on folded printer paper with far fewer dishes on it (no Triple Flavour Squid!). They were told that the restaurant had been having difficulties with staffing the kitchen. I can only hope that these problems are temporary and that the shrinkage of the menu will disappear as things return to normal in the kitchen, as I hope they will very soon. As we are going to be traveling for most of January, we are unlikely to eat there again till February. I would therefore be very grateful if anybody who visits over the next 4-6 weeks could write in and let me know what you encounter.

With that said, please click on an image below to launch the slideshow that will show you the restaurant and everything we ate at these meals (the meals are presented in sequence). Scroll down for an account of a very atypical lunch the missus and I ate at the restaurant in June. It’s not part of the slideshow and comprises the only meal we’ve ever had at Grand Szechuan that we were not enthused about.

So, about that not-very good meal in June: the missus and I were driving up 35W, just by the Grand Szechuan exit (as we call the exit for 106th St. in our family), late one weekday morning and decided to stop at Grand Szechuan for lunch. This was the right call. It would also have been the right call for us to get what we usually get when we stop there for lunch by ourselves on weekdays: one apiece of their noodle soups. Instead, for some reason I cannot fathom, we decided to give their lunch combos a try. I got mine with orange chicken and she got hers with fish-flavour chicken. Both came with passable hot and sour soup but with very sad looking eggrolls. Her fish-flavour chicken was quite different from the version on the a la carte menu but tasty enough. My orange chicken, I am sorry to say, was not very good at all. I don’t know how representative this experience was but the lesson, as always, is that the Sichuan menu is the way to go at Grand Szechuan.

It is my fervent hope that this menu will be back in force in its entirety early in 2023 and that we’ll be able to go eat at Grand Szechuan at something closer to our normal, pre-pandemic frequency. At any rate, I wish you all happy eating in the last few days of 2022 and throughout the new year.

7 thoughts on “Grand Szechuan, 2022 (Bloomington, MN)

  1. I learned on my first visit (pre-pandemic) to never order the “Chinese-American” side of their menu.

    And I’m the long time reader who had the disappointing Christmas lunch. It was still very good by Twin Cities Chinese restaurant standards. But not as good as prior trips, which is worrisome. I am hoping it was just a blip due to a Christmas labor crunch.

    Keep up the good work MAO!

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    • Yeah, I think I remember you’d said something back then about a bad experience with beef with broccoli or something like that. I should have known better but for all these years a part of me has thought, “I’m sure Grand Szechuan’s orange chicken must better than everyone else’s”. I love orange chicken, you see. But no.

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  2. So jealous as usual, yet so far for us to drive. Yes I too have learned never to order off the lunch specials menu at these kinds of places, it’s going to be what I would call Americanized Chinese food, almost without fail.

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  3. Oh no! Am feeling anxious about the triple flavor squid news. It’s my favorite dish there, among my favorites anywhere, and I’ve been looking forward to having it again after much too long. I sure hope it returns. I get delivery on occasion from the Tea House on University, and have noticed a recent disappearance of menu items there too, among them a bittersweet melon combo I’ve eaten many times. It seems to be a pattern.

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  4. I just received confirmation that the limited menu situation is ongoing. A friend had dinner there tonight and they received a smaller trifold menu. They said everything was excellent but that the entrees took longer than usual to come out; appetizers were sent out quickly. Which suggests the kitchen staffing issue is also ongoing.

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