Szechuan Gourmet


If I had my druthers, Sally Struthers, I’d take my iPhone and throw it into a lake. It’s ruining my life.

I hate being so connected, I hate that my pocket vibrates any time someone comments on my facebook status; I hate that I update my facebook status while standing in line at the post office to say, “Standing in line at the post office.” Why do I need to do that? Why am I wasting so many brain cells? Die, iPhone, die! I’m buying a rotary phone and carrying that around.

Only: as a foodie (I know, I know, you hate that word) the iPhone is a bit of a godsend. Case in point: you go to the MoMA on a Friday night for free admission Fridays (did you know about that?), and upon leaving with Diana and Craig you don’t know where to go to dinner. You rack your brain and then you remember Frank Bruni reviewed a Chinese place in midtown recently. What was that place? Where is it? Enter iPhone.

Not only did my iPhone allow me to pull up Frank Bruni’s two-star review of Szechuan Gourmet, it told me the address and, if I wanted it to, it could’ve navigated me down 6th avenue to our delicious destination.

Once there, the iPhone proved even more handy: with Bruni’s review right there in front of me, I knew which dishes he recommended. We started with pork belly with chili-garlic soy:


‘Twas a strange dish—the pork belly not crisp, but slightly rubbery. And hot, hot, hot. Oh Lord, Frank Bruni is not kidding in his review: the food here is hot.

We shared these steamed pork dumplings in another fiery sauce:


I was surprised that the dumplings were room temperature, but that’s what that sauce is for I suppose: to make your mouth so hot you don’t notice when things are room temperature. So hot, in fact, that you don’t notice many things: a troupe of dancing monkeys could trapeze through the room and you’d just nod your head and sweat.

Our entree was a knock-out, both heat-wise and flavor-wise. This is braised whole bass with chili miso:


I remember, as a youngster, seeing people order whole fish in Chinese restaurants with the eye poking out and wondering what sick, perverted mind could ever sanction a dish like that. Again, I was a youngster. Now, as an adult, I wonder: what sick perverted mind cooks just a filet of fish when a whole fish, cooked like this, provides such sweeter meet, so much more flavor?

Granted: the bones are treacherous. But that’s part of the fun–working around the bones, yanking them out of your mouth, out of your throat.

And you don’t really care about bones when you’re nearly gagging from the heat of the sauce. But it’s a good kind of gagging, the kind of gagging that goes well with beer.

The tamest thing we ate all night was this sauteed spinach:


The only shocking thing about that was the price: $10. But, for $10, that’s a lot of spinach. And it’s a nice relief from all the heat you’re getting elsewhere.

Thanks to my iPhone, not only did we have a terrific meal after our visit to the MoMA: but the meal itself was captured with the iPhone camera. Yup, I forgot my real camera and iPhone saved the day.

All right, iPhone, you convinced me: I won’t throw you into a lake. But please stop buzzing needlessly about everything, ok? And please stop making me update my Facebook status for no reason? Please?

Facebook status: contemplating facebook status.

I’m doomed.

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