Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Best of Metrowest: Sichuan Gourmet, Framingham

Each time I eat at Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham, I am struck by how good their food is. Honestly it gives me some semblance of relief that in an area that is so dominated by chain restaurants there can be gems like this offering excellent authentic food at reasonable prices. In fact the owners are from Chengdu-a major city in Sichuan province in China explaining in many ways why this food is so good and so unique. In a recent meal, I was immediately given a plate of vegetables that was an example of what I enjoy here. It consisted of broccoli stems and carrots quickly sautéed so they still retained their crunch and then topped with sesame oil.

It was so simple and so good. Eating at Sichuan Garden means realizing that the term “spicy” in and of itself doesn’t address the range of tastes that you can have here. For example, my eyes watered as I reached for another bite of peanut and sesame coated Dan Dan noodles.

Coated in hot oil and topped with quickly sautéed spinach it cleared my sinuses quickly. Another wonderful cold noodle dish is "Chengdu Sweet and Spicy Noodles."

This dish has thicker noodles and sits on sweet soy sauce. But on top is a combination of minced garlic and more of the hot oil. The intensity of the heat is mellowed by the delicious soy. Another spicy and completely different appetizer is the "Spicy Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom."

The mushrooms are served with fresh cilantro and tastes of vinegar. For me it is more of an acquired taste, but other friends have enjoyed it.

Their incredible Beef Noodle Soup (pictured at the top of this post) had a spice that was warming. The unique Sichuan peppers made my mouth tingle, but they also added flavor. The soup itself consisted of a rich homemade broth with enough noodles for two meals. Typically I shy away from fatty pieces of meat, but these hunks were so tender and so flavorful that it made me rethink the joys of fat.

I am hopelessly addicted to their "Old Sichuan Chicken". This features chunks of dry fried chicken that is then sautéed with chili peppers. It is crisp, exceptionally flavorful and makes you reach for bite after bite. They also offer “Dry Fried Chicken with Chili Sauce." This features smaller pieces than the Old Sichuan, making it taste more “fry” than chicken. On a recent trip I also tried the "Shredded Dry Beef with Chili Sauce."

This was also made with the dry fry style which means the beef is fried without batter. It is topped with dried chilis and bamboo sheets. It was good, but I think the Old Sichuan Chicken is still my favorite.

Two other fabulous spicy dishes are the Fish Filets and Napa Cabbage. This dish (which you can also get with beef) features a brilliantly colored, fire-breathing sauce coating fish and the soothing taste of cabbage. I also love their Sichuan wontons with spicy sauce. Amazingly each spicy sauce has a different range of tastes.

They also have delicious dishes for people who don't like spicy food (like FoodieDaddy). Each time we go we order the fresh bamboo shoots with special sauce. This light and refreshing dish make a mockery of canned bamboo shoots. Even their chicken wings are greaseless and delicious. Other non-spicy highlights include Baby Green Top with Black Mushroom lightly cooked bok choy in a white sauce and the Rainbow Chicken.

The menu is extensive. I recommend a few things-do try some of the more authentic Chinese dishes. Also, I also recommend going with a group of people so you can try range of dishes such as Sichuan Double Cooked Bacon or to try as many of the hot dishes as possible.

Lastly-although Sichuan Gourmet is right on Route 9, it is easy to miss. If you are headed on Route 9 going West, drive past the Natick Mall, Shopper's World and Walmart. Route 9 goes up a hill. As the road begins to decline, look right-the restaurant has a little sign and is on the second floor.

If you hit Route 126, you have gone too far, so just reverse directions at Route 126 back onto Route 9.

Sichuan Gourmet 271 Worcester Rd. (Rt. 9), Framingham 508-626-0248

1 comment:

  1. Love Sichuan Gourmet. Have to admit I've never eaten there though, always get take out. I think their steamed chicken and vegetables is great if you are looking for something really light an healthy. And their hot and sour soup for two is fantastic. Is the first picture in your post a beef noodle soup? It looks great. We should meet their for dinner sometime :)