Each table top at Szechuan Garden has a built in hot plate to power the restaurant’s signature Sichuan hot pots. For the hot pots you choose a stock, including the option of a vegetarian broth, selections from the list of meats, selections from the list of vegetables, various tofu options, noodles and dumplings. Szechuan Garden also sells typical American-Chinese dishes and a lot of options I am assuming are more traditional Sichuan style dishes such as, Snow Pea Pig Feet Soup, Ox Tongue & Tripe with roasted chili-peanuts vinaigrette, Stir Fried Diced Fish Fillet with pickled chili cucumber and Braised Sea Cucumber With Chili Minced Pork.
The Dumplings: Szechuan Garden serves Szechuan pork dumpling with roasted chili soy, pan seared pot stickers and steamed vegetable dumplings. The pot stickers were stuffed with a juicy mixture of savory pork and cabbage and were served seared to a golden crisp on two sides. The pot stickers were really uniform in size, shape and pleating so I think they may be a frozen commercial dumpling rather than homemade. But they were well cooked, tasty and very enjoyable.
The Szechuan pork dumpling with roasted chili soy were a steamed or boiled pork dumpling served in a sauce of chili oil and soy garnished with scallions and sesame seeds. Typically this dish uses a wonton style dumpling that has a lot of excess wrapper that serves as a noodle at the end of the dumpling. The dumplings were good but I missed the noodle aspect that provides a greater surface area for sauce to cling to. The sauce was pretty spicy but not overwhelming, there was a slow build up of the burn so that my lips were tingling by the time I finished eating them, but it wasn’t challenging.
The Dipping Sauce: The pot stickers came with a typical soy based dipping sauce that had a lot of sweetness to it and a fruity undertone. The chili soy sauce for the Szechuan pork dumplings was soy sauce with a layer of chili oil floating on top, with red chili paste and mashed raw garlic added to the oil. The ingredients of the sauce were not well integrated together, at one point I ended up eating a wad of raw garlic mash. Overall the sauce lacked complexity and depth of flavor.
The Location: Szechuan Garden is in Manhattan’s Upper West Side neighborhood on Broadway at 98th Street. They have another location at 105th street and Broadway.