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Sze Chuan on University ave...

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?

Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby NullDevice » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:19 pm

...did not impress me. In fact, to call it "mediocre" might be pushing it a bit.

First off, despite the name, the menu is not sichuan. Oh, sure, they have Kung Pao chicken and "Szechuan style bean curd" (which is ma po dou fu as far as I can tell) and then a few "Szechuan [meat]" dishes, but the rest of the menu is pretty standard generic Chinese restaurant.

The specials seemed a bit more promising. I saw "salt and pepper shrimp" and "salt and pepper squid" and "fish ball soup" and thought well, that's a good start.

I ordered the S&P squid special. My wife had the sweet-and-sour chicken. We had an order of fried potsickers.

It all kind of went wrong from there.

First off - no chopsticks! Plastic forks and spoons were available, but no knives.

The potstickers were extremely greasy. I expect some oiliness from a fried potsticker but these were literally dripping grease. The dough was dense and chewy, and the filling was kind of bland.

The sweet-n-sour chicken was a box of fried chicken chunks and a separate container of flourescent red sauce. Okay, not all that unusual for a carryout place. But I often hope that there's a little more than just chicken. Like maybe onions or peppers or god forbid pineapple. Well, it turns out there was more than chicken because my wife found some pork in hers.

That was only the first problem with the dish. The battering was heavy and overcooked. It was next-to-impossible to breach with the plastic cutlery.

My Salt and Pepper squid was a pile of battered and deep-fried squid served on a bed of iceberg lettuce, with a single sad sprig of limp cilantro on the top. The breading was light, though, and not overcooked, and the squid was nice and tender, so that was a win...however the dominant flavors were not "salt and pepper" so much as "lots of salt and scorched garlic." Blackened bits of garlic and what I think might have been scallion adhered to every chunk of squid, imparting that less-than-pleasant bitter flavor that only scorched garlic can. The dish succeeded on one of the difficult areas - getting squid cooked right - and missed on the minor-league stuff, like "not burning your garlic" and "not oversalting the hell out of it." I've had S&P squid elsewhere and usually there's pepper somewhere to be found.

On the plus side, they gave us something like 7 fortune cookies.

Yeah, don't think I'll be going back. I realize they've only been open a few days but...they made some mistakes that aren't really of the "they'll figure it out once the kitchen settles in" variety.
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby Tsur » Sun Feb 26, 2012 6:57 pm

I quite like the food. I've been three, maybe four times. The standouts were a Kung Bo Shrimp and Sichuan Shrimp. The shrimp were surprisingly large (not breaded) and the vegetables had a nice crunch. For the lunch portions they give you a plain fried rice that I find very tasty. The service is always competent. Typically a tall, stoner looking guy is always relaxed and friendly. He's get my order right and when I say "extra spicy" it really does come out surprisingly spicy. Tried a tofu and vegi soup that, while not remarkable, had a clean broth and was loaded with crisp veggies and big chunks of tofu.

I certainly haven't sampled the entire menu, but so far it's exactly what I want from Chinese take-out: cheap, saucy, salty food that's just a little too greasy.

The place has zero ambiance and the other poster is right about the plastic utensils and the plethora of fortune cookies. But it's the best (maybe only) Chinese place in the vicinity.
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby Tsur » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:38 am

Typing about Szechuan got me craving it, so I ate their again last night. Ordered "Bean Curd Szechuan Style". I thought I was going to get Mao Pao Tofu, but that wasn't what this dish was at all. Big chunks of tofu in an oystery brown sauce with vegetables (bamboo shoots, lotus root, carrots, snow peas). Again, it was really good - savory, slightly sweet, and very saucy. It could have done with a little less corn starch, but that's a mild complaint. I bravely and stupidly bit into one of the whole chilies and it incapacitated the left side of my mouth for 10 minutes. But that was really my fault and not theirs.
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby NullDevice » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:19 pm

Tsur wrote: But it's the best (maybe only) Chinese place in the vicinity.


...For a tiny definition of "vicinity." There're two chinese restaurants in Hilldale, a mere few blocks west. Granted, one (Dumpling Haus) is a bit more upscale/"haute chinese" than Sze Chuan. But Hong Kong Wok is in roughly the same price and casual-ness ballpark.
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby msnflyer » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:10 pm

I stopped at Hong Kong Cafe a few weeks ago, was sorely disappointed by the food in comparison to meals I'd eaten there before. Don't know if they had an off day but I probably won't eat there the next time I visit Hilldale (which happens about 3x/year.)
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby kissyfish » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:49 am

This place is about two blocks from my house, we occasionally will walk there and grab a take-out meal. The food is OK, and the portions big.

They also gave us about 30 fortune cookies, which made my kids big fans!

While I am not overly enthusiastic, it is certainly good enough.
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Re: Sze Chuan on University ave...

Postby NullDevice » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:42 pm

msnflyer wrote:I stopped at Hong Kong Cafe a few weeks ago, was sorely disappointed by the food in comparison to meals I'd eaten there before. Don't know if they had an off day but I probably won't eat there the next time I visit Hilldale (which happens about 3x/year.)


Cafe or Wok? There's a namespace collision with the "Hong Kong" restaurants.

I admit HKW in Hilldale is often variable. It *really* depends on what you order. But I still like them way better than Sze Chuan.
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