Ordering Outside The Box: Five-Spice Beef and Cucumber Salad from Grand Sezhuan Int’l

I think it’s funny how people who tell other people to “think outside the box” are often people who live their lives very much inside a box—like motivational speakers or corporate peer group leaders or, I dunno, Bob Saget-types who you encounter in your day to day goings-on. If I were a motivational speaker, though, I’d encourage my listeners to EAT outside the box—that’d be the name of my book: EAT OUTSIDE THE BOX, meaning : order things you wouldn’t get normally.

In the spirit of eating outside the box, I decided to do away with my usual humdrum order of General Tso’s chicken from some humdrum Chinese place and order food from Grand Sezhuan Int’l on 9th Avenue. I did some Chowhound research and apparently the thing to get is 5-spice beef (which is cold) and cucumber salad. I placed my order and they arrived quite quickly:


The cucumber salad wasn’t that interesting, I must be honest. It tasted like sliced cucumbers in sesame oil.

The 5-spice beef, however, was really interesting–it was packed with flavor and it was difficult to determine where that flavor came from. The options ranged anywhere from cloves to tannis-root, like Rosemary wears around her neck in Rosemary’s baby. I’ve taken to wearing 5-spice beef around my neck and it really helps in warding off witches, as well as warlocks, wizards and basically anyone with an acute sense of smell. But I was glad I ordered this weird food the other night: to quote the Spice GIrls, it spiced up my life.

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