COVID-19 shows no sign of letting up. Neither does The Chinese Quest! Another month, another review of a Chinese restaurant. Specifically, 88 Szechuan Cuisine, which is located at 249 Horace Harding Expressway, Little Neck, NY 11362. It should be no surprise then that the featured cuisine is Szechuan, and certainly no surprise that the food was going to be HOT! Hot and Spicy!! We came, they served, and we deliver this tasty review for your consumption.
The owners of 88 Szechuan Cuisine are very wise people indeed when they chose this location, formerly the site of TJK Cafe, which will be missed, but if anything had to replace them you’d be hard-pressed to find a better choice. And so convenient! Literally two doors west is Carvel! And, if you must, a few doors further east on the same block is Jade Asian Bistro, and just around the corner is QQ Cafe Noodle House. Opened for a few weeks when The Chinese Quest made their Grand Opening official by paying them a visit and writing this review.
You know you have entered an authentic Chinese restaurant when the staff nor the owner speaks much English. That made it just more enjoyable for us. Somehow we managed to communicate that we wanted to try their favorite dishes on the menu. And this is what we had:
Being a surprisingly chilly evening, we wanted to warm up with some soup while we waited for Mee Tsu Yan to arrive. To get the best bang for our review dollar, we divided and conquered. Besides, it would have been yuckie in these pandemic times to share a bowl of soup with another. Three of us ordered the Wonton Soup. Mee Young Joo took a different path by ordering the Silkie Chicken Soup. But, he wasn’t the only Mee who would take a different path this evening.
As this writer can only speak for the Wonton Soup, let me tell you that the broth was light and definitely not salty. The four wontons were excellent. Embarrassingly, I asked if they had Chow Mein Noodles. What can I say? I love Chow Mein Noodles. They didn’t. Briefly, I thought about going next door to the Asian Supermarket to get some, but knowing that Mee Tsu Yan would be arriving soon, I didn’t venture out. No noodles, still no Tsu Yan, but the soup was delicious. Who knew, that at the time, the soups would be the coolest thing we were to eat that night!
Time to turn up the heat… and on Mee Tsu Yan, where are you?… and on the dishes, we ordered next.
New Style Sichuan Chicken – I have a feeling that this isn’t a “new” dish, and that Sichuan cuisine has been around for thousands of years, but hey, it’s a new Chinese restaurant, so they have a right to call it “new style”. Show us what you got! What we got was a plate where the ingredients were hard to differentiate, but you got the feeling if someone put a match to it it would light up like a bonfire. Every bite was hot. Though the dish wasn’t lit, the fire started in our bellies.
Fried Beef with Cumin – Should have come with a side order of fire extinguishers. Man, this was hot! But, I have to tell you, it was extremely delicious. I really loved the bell peppers. The spices were overwhelming the beef though and it was hard to get a good read on how good it was.
We needed to quickly cool things down. In retrospect, we probably should have ordered the rice earlier so that it could soak up some of the sauces from the entrees.
Fried Rice with Shrimp – Consider it Young Chow Fried Rice if you need a comparable dish. Perhaps it was the contrast to the incendiary flavors of the prior two dishes, or it was just that darned good, but it was darned good! Such a light delicate dish is best how I can describe it. Make sure you order this when you go to 88 Szechuan Cuisine.
It was right about then that Mee Tsu Yan arrived from his pilgrimage. Approximately 90 minutes after we were seated. Such an impressive tour-de-Long Island and Queens merit a shift in monikers (as if we don’t have enough already), and he is without a doubt, THE Wandering Jew.
Looking back, he must have known. For this Mee doesn’t fancy the hot and spicy as much as everyone, and perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that he arrived after we ate the two main entrees, was it?
To accommodate our perambulating brother we ordered another mild dish:
Crystal Shrimp Dumplings – These dumplings were a big hit, and I have no doubt we could have ordered another round of them without further damage to our stomachs. I liked the lightness of the wrapper and shrimp. There was nothing to overwhelm the taste of the shrimp. The dumplings stood on their own, but they didn’t avoid the eager chopsticks that snatched them up one after the other until the five of us each had one dumpling, leaving just one left from the order of six, before realizing we hadn’t taken a photograph of them. Hence, we present, to the right, The Lone Dumpling.
By the way, that lone dumpling quickly joined his brother in my belly before it had a chance to escape!
Sufficiently full, our mouths still ablaze, salvation was just two doors down. Quickly paying the bill ($118.40 for the four and a half of us plus tip), we ran like the Keystone Kops to Carvel!
(Please check back in a few days to view our Rating)
Humbly submitted for your consumption,
—Mee Magnum (“Chop! Chop!”)