Ode to Szechuan

Szechuan House choy sum

Szechuan House choy sum

Whether you spell it Szechuan or Sichuan, this spicy cuisine from an earthquake-ravaged province of China is one of my favorites.  I finally got to Szechuan House restaurant in Hamilton the other night, and I have to say I was wowed by the food!  This is the real deal folks, right down to the beef tendon, duck tongue, and sea cucumber.

While my friend and I enjoyed tamer – but no less authentic – fare, large Chinese family groups dug into the full range of offerings at the larger tables.   I found dishes here, right on the regular menu, that I’ve only found in Flushing or far north on Route 27, such as pressed tofu with celery, wontons in hot oil, conch, and a stunning dish of choy sum with black mushrooms.

What do I mean by “authentic”?  A good question, and since I have not been to China, how dare I pretend to really know?  But I have often dined with Chinese friends and know the foods they eat out and prepare at home, and those dishes are usually not on the menu that Westerners are handed when they go out to eat.  What most restaurants offer is more “Chinese-American,” not that I can’t enjoy that too on occasion.   Even at Szechuan House when one of the staff saw our evident enjoyment of their “traditional” (maybe that’s a better word) dishes , he said, “Next time I’ll show you some things that aren’t on our menu.”  There’s more?

Faith Bahadurian

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One thought on “Ode to Szechuan

  1. Faith, catalytic as ever — do you remember when A-Kitchen was in a gas station on Route 1 and Craig Claiborne reviewed it and we all learned about Hunanese and other spicy foods – light YEARS beyond chow mein! WHAT we’d been missing! Thank you for taking us on these spicy journeys!

    Best

    Carolyn

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