/Feel the Burn at Szechuan Gourmet, NYC

Feel the Burn at Szechuan Gourmet, NYC

I have had an endorphin rush brought on by eating very spicy food before. I have tasted foods so hot that it has taken me days to recover from eating them. But I have never encountered anything with spice so intense, so profound, that it has scrambled my DNA. That is, until I ate at Szechuan Gourmet on Saturday. The place is renowned for its very authentic and very spicy Szechuan cuisine. The menu has one to four chili peppers beside each item to indicate their relative heat.

For starters, I chose four dishes with a single chili pepper symbol each. The Duck Tongues with Szechuan Pepper Corn-Scallion Pesto,Ox Tongue & Tripe, Szechuan Pork Dumplings with Roasted Chilli Soy, and the Chef’s Szechuan Pickles were drizzled with a red-orange oil that burned my tongue and lips from the inside out. The sensation must be similar to microwaving flesh, tingling with increased intensity as it cooks from within. Waves of unrelenting heat radiated from my mouth and into my brain. Still, I kept eating.

There were moments when I thought I would lose consciousness, others when I feared my trembling hands would lose control of my chopsticks, inhibiting my ability to indulge in this masochistic feast. I was seriously worried that the spice might kill me before I could finish it all. As it turned out, I survived and ordered a main. Triumphant over the four life threateningly hot starters, I decided to step it up and got the four chili pepper Chef’s Ma Paul Tofu.

I fully expected this dish to be my downfall, to send me over the edge and into a rare spice induced coma. But instead, it was surprisingly mild. Anything would be compared to the effect of those four starters. The ground pork with chilis were a chunky and salty addition to the silky, hot oil coated tofu cubes. This was the perfect end to a ridiculously intense meal that I cannot wait to repeat.

2016-01-07T14:37:29+00:00 January 19th, 2010|Categories: America, Food & Wine, Gastronomic Traditions, New York City, Offal, Pork, Restaurants|11 Comments


  1. sara January 19, 2010 at 5:18 pm - Reply

    mouth. watering. You don’t find that in Rome.

  2. justin k January 19, 2010 at 6:21 pm - Reply

    wow, this is just three blocks from my office. i’ve been trekking down to grand sichuan on 24th & 9th for my fiery needs. good to know this is right around the corner. thanks for the post!

    • Katie January 20, 2010 at 9:32 am - Reply

      Just bear in mind that if you do get something spicy you may not be able to function for the rest of the day.

  3. CanM January 19, 2010 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    man, i knew I should’ve invited myself to this.

  4. shayma January 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    all the dishes look so good, esp the spicy tofu. too bad all the best Sichuan dishes always have a lot of pork 🙁

  5. Katie January 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Yeah only the duck tongue and tripe with ox tongue were pig-free.

  6. Darren January 24, 2010 at 5:32 am - Reply

    Went there tonight. Awesome food…spicy, but not quite as spicy as you made it out to be. Nice balance of heat, salt, and natural meat flavors. I highly recommend it to people who are in the area.

    • Katie January 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm - Reply

      Darren, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Did you get any of those starters that nearly killed me? They were really ridiculously intense.

  7. Darren January 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I did try the dumplings, which were very good, but seems like they would be the least spicy of the starters that you mentioned. I wanted to try the other items, but I was the only “adventurous” eater in the group. Those uninitiated to foodie culture generally cringe at the mention of the word tongue on the menu – at least in this country. I definitely plan on going back and trying some different items on the menu. Thanks for spotlighting this place!

  8. […] 6: Lunch with Can at Grand Sichuan in Chelsea was alright, though I much prefer the incapacitating and hallucination inducing heat of Szechuan Gourmet in Midtown. The dumplings with spicy oil, cold spicy beef tongue and oxtail, and whole crispy fish […]

  9. marvin December 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm - Reply

    Looks like an amazing feast. I love spicy stuff aswell, especially mapo doufu. That’s why I propably can understand all the pains you had to go through the next morning. My condolences.

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