Saturday, May 26, 2012

szechuan search - New Spring Restaurant (or Spring New Restaurant)

We are on the hunt for a Chinese restaurant to replace our beloved Capitol Hill Szechuan, which was recently bought by a new owner and now has a new chef and is newly not our favourite restaurant.

Today Andy and I ate lunch at New Szechuan Restaurant or Spring New Szechuan Restaurant. It's very close to our home and had decent reviews on Urban Spoon and Dine Here. There was no lunch special at 2pm on a Saturday. We're not sure if they have one at other times. We ordered hot and sour soup and spicy szechuan chicken, plus a bowl of steamed rice.

The soup was quite good, with a nice balance of sourness and peppery-hotness. It was generously loaded with tofu, barbequed meat and small shrimp, as well as a variety of julienned veggies. At $6.95 our big bowl provided 6 small serving bowls of soup. I guess we were hungry because we consumed 3 helpings each. The chicken ($9.95) was fresh and piping hot with fresh, crispy stir fried onions and green bell peppers. Instead of the fresh hot green pepper slices we are accustomed to at Cap Hill, this szechuan chicken was heated up with chili oil in the sauce and abundant small red dried peppers. And it was hot! We like it, so that's in its favour. In both the soup and the chicken dish I detected a little bit of fermented black bean. This must be a signature of the chef, as I am not used to this ingredient in these dishes. It added some complexity and not overpowering.

The service was friendly, and the restaurant is plain-looking but clean and bright on the inside. There are 3 big round tables and several smaller rectangular ones, all with plastic disposable table coverings. The tea was jasmine, and large glasses of ice water were provided as soon as we asked. At 2pm on a sunny Saturday we were not alone. Four other parties ate lunch at the same time we did. There was a mix of Asian and European-ancestered customers, including a young family, a table full of 20-somethings, and old people like us. ahem.

We decided that this restaurant is worth another visit to try some more of the dishes on their menu. The three tables with Asian customers were served what looked like hot pot on an ornate burner-type stand. I'd like to give that a try. We are not jumping up and down like we would if we found the New Capitol Hill, but this place has potential. We'll also look around at other options.

question: where do you go when your favourite chef mysteriously disappears?

mompoet - craving favourites

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