Secret Menu at Sichuan Garden
|Useful word to know at Sichuan Garden!|
Holy shit, people, I stumbled upon one of the best restaurants in this city. I was trying to go to Cutty's but found out they were closed at 3 (It was 3:30). The nice lady at Cutty's led me in out of the snow, and I asked her for advice as to what was the best place to eat nearby. She told me about Sichuan Garden (Brookline) across the street and told me to ask for the secret Sichuan menu.
"A secret menu?! Sold."
When I entered, I was the only patron. When I asked for the secret Sichuan menu, the hosting lady blinked once, asked if I liked spicy, and upon my affirmative, handed me the menu and sat me down.
|Secret Sichuan Menu - Pork Kidneys!|
On the other side of the menu were several other interesting options. There was a section with three different "baos." Thinking this would be the bao of pork bun fame, my ignorant ass* asked my waitress, "How many come with this?"
She looked confused for a few seconds and then held out her hands to about the size of a remote control. What came back was a nine inch in diameter and four inch deep basin.
|The Spicy Rabbit Bao - $16.95|
|($16.95 plus $1.50 for a small white rice)|
The waitress had first asked if I liked spicy. Then she suggested I get a side of white rice with by rabbit bao because of spicy. While happy to have it, I barely used any with lunch, as I would eat most of it like soup.
Fortunately, it wasn't actually too spicy for me, but right on that line. If you have any doubts about your tolerance, it's not for you. Chiles, scallions, fennel, oil, salt. Whew. I've never enjoyed tofu more, with the soft stuff soaking up all these juices.
|What are these intestine-resembling noodles? Another reason I didn't actually need that rice.|
|As a white girl, I always want to impress Asians by eating a lot of their spicy, atypical-to-Americans food, but my relish of this rabit bao was no affectation.|
I was proud to see my waitress' surprise that I wasn't guzzling my water. I would, in fact, only have my glass refilled once, and that at halfway. Boo yah. I did also feel a slight paranoia that the chatting and laughter of the owners and employees was about the crazy white girl eating spicy rabbit by herself in the corner, but that's probably just my brain being racist.
This yuppie looking white woman (32ish), came in, looked at the menu (the regular one!) and just got some hot and sour soup.
"What a loser!" I thought "She don't know what she missing."
Apparently when I'm feeling superior, I think in the voice of a sassy black lady.
|Once I realized that trying to break the meat off was futile, I finally began picking up the rabbit pieces and sucking the meat off the bone.|
|I discovered I'd been doing it all wrong before, had only gotten 25% of the meat. It was so good to suck it off the bone, even more flavorful.|
I'm pretty sure the white lady was taking video of me with the iPhone she was holding up too high and pointing at me, so I turned and winked at her.
Spicy, oil-filled, and salty, this was an awesome hangover meal, and by the time I was a few bites in, I was a spicy champ, hardly even affected by it.
Also the people there were so sweet. It was such a comfortable experience. I want to become a regular, at least until I've tried everything! Even the regular menu has a bunch of stuff I want to try!
Though it turns out the cool cocktail section is only available at their Woburn location, get a load of the nice beer bottle list! This place is awesome!
|My leftovers - a freaking half gallon.|
|Ah, wise words.|
Full disclosure, I did actually cry just a tiny bit the next morning when I spent twenty-five minutes on the toilet paying for my salty, spicy, oily sins.
This time, I accidentally forgot to make sure to order spicy stuff and focused on trying things I'd never had before.
|Braised Sea Cucumber - $22.95 - The sea cucumber itself was of the rubbery varieties of food (which some people are into, so hey) and didn't bring much flavor to the table, but the rest of the dish was great. There was a ton of spinach and mushrooms, slices of ginger, cloves of garlic, and, I think, bamboo slices.|
*As fas as I can tell, "bao" on Chinese menus can be pork buns, coming from one meaning (roughly "wrapped") or a big vat of goodness like I had here, coming from another (roughly "pot" or "to boil").