The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Szechuan @ Spicy & Tasty, Flushing (NYC)

We were told by local foodies that there are good Chinese food to be had in Flushing, Queens which is one of the five outer boroughs of NYC. No wonder, since Flushing is home to the second largest Chinatown community in NYC. It's huge, unglamorous and crowded with Asian faces - yep that's Chinatown. Michael, the same eGulleter who accompanied us to have some yummy Malaysian, kindly suggested his favourite Chinese restaurant in all of NYC: Spicy & Tasty. The name sounded somewhat tacky, but I was assured that this is good and authentic spicy Szechuan fare. I love Szechuan cuisine in all its spicy glory, especially the hot-n-sour soup :9

Anyway, Chinese food is best eaten banquet-style (i.e. share many dishes), so it was clear to me that we needed more people in order to get the best out of this trip, which is a 1-hour ride on the subway from downtown Manhattan. The same Michael joined us with two of his friends, and with five people, we could sample a fair number of dishes. However I wasn't counting on dietary restrictions - one of them was a vegetarian and the other wasn't very adventurous and didn't eat spicy food. We still managed to order something for everyone, although I did feel somewhat guilty as we had many spicy dishes, and many meat dishes. Michael was the only one among the five of us who'd been to Spicy & Tasty before, so we relied a lot on his recommendations.

We ordered four cold dishes: two noodle dishes ("Spicy" and "Sesame"), seasoned cucumbers and jellyfish. The noodles were nice, but I'm not big on cold noodles. I really liked the jellyfish, which was served with a nice salty sauce with lettuce, but it seemed like I was the only one eating it (I think there's the ick factor with jellyfish) so it got a bit OTT towards the end.

Hot and Sour Soup, and Spicy Beef. I'd actually expected one serving of the soup, not a huge bowl for five because I was the only one at the table who wanted to try this. As a result I had about 5 bowls of this at the table, and took home the remainder. Talk about sodium overload! The water retention I had the following day was unbelieveable! The beef was tender, and tastily spiced with the Szechuan pepper.

Tofu in Special Sauce, and Soybean-encrusted Bass. The tofu was so-so but the fish was really yummy! It's not a very good looking dish, but the crusty coating was as delicious as the fish itself, and this was a favourite at the table as it was the first dish finished.

We also ordered green string beans which was tasty albeit a bit too salty. I didn't pay much attention to the price of each dish, but we paid $20 each including a generous tip. Overall, the food was pretty good and as authentic as you can get with large serving sizes. The food lives up to the restaurant's name: spicy and tasty; however, for some reason, I still prefer the familiar authentic Chinese food back in Northbridge's Chinatown.

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