Szechuan mountain house
I have a confession: in my nearly 3 years here, I've somehow never made it to Flushing. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I should be embarrassed and ashamed, and I am - a little. But I'm also a bit of a lazy homebody on the weekends, and I've just never managed to make it quite that far from my Manhattan digs.
Turns out - waiting (sometimes) pays off! Flushing institution, Szechuan Mountain House, recently opened a location on St. Marks and my boyfriend and I immediately rushed over to try it.
Disclaimer: We actually tried to go 3 times before we made it inside - beware, they don't take reservations & the wait times are no joke.
Final verdict: new favorite Chinese restaurant in Manhattan.
Fish stews are a signature of Szechuan cuisine, and this restaurant's renditions of this dish are exceptional. The whole fish is cooked in a sumptuous, spicy broth, resulting in one of the most flavorful preparation of fish out there (in my humble opinion).
If you decide to go, fish is a must-order off of this menu - there's something deeply satisfying about pairing the tenderness of fish meat with the intense spices Szechuan cuisine is known for.
My second favorite dish off the menu is their pork belly - which is a always a decadent delight. The dish is actually cooked with whole grapes, which brings just a touch of acidity & sweetness to an otherwise heavy dish.
In turn, the grapes soak up some of the richness of the pork - resulting in a uniquely savory & sweet treat after you've demolished the rest of the dish.
This spicy chili chicken is another classic. The chicken is cut up into tiny bite-sized chunks and fried into crispy morsels alongside a generous heaping of spices. This dish is probably equal parts chicken and fried chilies. If you're looking for a dish to give you that signature tingly, mouth-numbing sensation - this dish will do it for you.
Last but not least, make sure to scoop up the mapo tofu and some sides! If you're not typically a spicy food aficionado, I highly recommend supplementing your order with some plain jasmine rice (it's a great way to tamp down the spice), but if you're pretty confident in your spice tolerance - try their noodle dish on for size.
In terms of veggies - the lotus root & garlic bok choy are both simple, but very tasty.
Hustle on down here with a crew (a couple of hours before you actually get hungry) so you can try out as many things on the menu as possible.