Well, it’s back to Flushing for The Chinese Quest. Our latest adventure was Szechuan Gourmet, located at 135-15 37th Ave. This low key Szechuan style restaurant is quite authentic and has a rather exhaustive menu. Some of the Mee’s were put off by the “B” grade in the window. Having had many a “B” in my school career , I did not think it was my place to judge, so in we went! Szechuan Gourmet is real deal Chinese. Very little English is spoken, and for the entire evening, “The Quest” were the only non-Chinese in the restaurant. Chinese music is piped in, giving you the feeling that you are not in Kansas anymore. To say the food is hot and spicy is a true understatement. Within the first two appetizers, I was sweating so hard, I was looking around for a fire extinguisher. In the first fifteen minutes, I went through five napkins just to look presentable.
We started the night with Dan Dan Noodles with Chili Minced Pork. At first taste, it seemed a bit bland. Under the noodles lies the real flavor. Mixing the noodles with the chili minced pork is how the party got started. So begins the “hottest” Quest to date. This dish had great flavor, but I like it better at Chef Wang, where the spice level is more suitable to my taste. Next up is Spicy Sesame Cold Noodles. Cold noodles is an appetizer that I’ve eaten my whole life in local Long Island restaurants. Szechuan Gourmet brings the spice to a whole new level. It was at this point that the beads of sweat began to roll! This heat actually made the dish better than the norm. Served in chili oil with bean sprouts made the taste really come alive. The hit of the night was Fish with Napa Bamboo Cellophane in Spiced Chili Broth. Care to know what is in the dish? I have no idea! Served in a large bowl, with a wire scoop, all of the ingredients sit in a chili oil bath. It made a beautiful presentation. From what I could surmise, the contents consisted of fish (not sure what kind) , cellophane noodles, tofu, celery, tomato, cabbage, and mushrooms. I found this entree most delicious, but way too spicy for my intestinal track. It must be a specialty of the house, every table had a bowl of the stuff. Our next order was Pork Wonton with Roasted Chili Soy. These dumplings were lightly spiced, and cooked perfect. 2015 was a mixed year for the dumpling. Some restaurants prepare them great, while others were bland and tasteless. Hopefully, 2016 will be the “Year of the Dumpling”!! We finished up with Stir Fried Chicken with Roasted Chili Peanut. The chicken was just OK. At this point, I could barely feel my tongue, never mind taste the food.
Szechuan Gourmet seems like a staple in the Chinese community of Flushing. By the time we left, every table was filled with locals enjoying a meal. My problem with the food is that with all of the spices, it made every dish taste the same. The reality is that my taste for Chinese is rooted in more blander Cantonese style cuisine. But this is exactly why we have a Quest. It brings us out of our comfort zone, and forces us to try the many styles of our favorite food – CHINESE.
All for now,
Mee Tsu Yan