Szechuan (Sichuan) cuisine, is best known for its liberal use of Szechuan (Sichuan) peppercorn and thus generally thought of as being very spicy. This regional cuisine also uses in copious amounts, both ginger and chili. This neighborhood Chinese restaurant took these ingredients as their house name, and occupies a decent sized establishment in the Point Grey area of Vancouver, close to other area favorites such as Burgoo, Candia Taverna, Provence Mediterranean Grill, and Enigma.
Ginger and Chili Szechuan Cuisine is proud of those popular North American-Chinese dishes: Ginger Beef and General Tso’s Chicken, and call theirs the best versions of these dishes in town. I’ve had this chicken-based creation ($10.50) which is stir-fried with a mix of vegetables – it’s not bad. But I refuse to try the Ginger Beef.
Every time I’ve been inside, customers have been a mix of Caucasian and Asian diners. Takeout represents a good portion of their business, judging from the walk-in-and-pick-up customers, the constantly ringing phone, and the female manager with a Bluetooth earpiece to handle the flood of calls. Delivery orders are also possible within a 3km radius and a minimum order of $20 and after 4:30pm.
On this evening, I ordered a trio of dishes, all of ample portions, from the menu that is separated into sections labeled appetizers, soups, seafood, chicken, pork & spareribs, beef, lamb, hot pot, vegetarian, rice, and chow mein & rice noodles. In total, in typical Chinese menu fashion, they are all numbered and amount to 165 different items, with the most expensive individual item being the whole barbecue duck that goes for $21.95. Most other dishes go for around $10~$15. There are even two options for a combination dinner for one ($13.75) and family dinner sets (2 to 8 people) that range from $23 to $92.
Firstly, the Deep Fried Squid with Peppery Salt ($13.25). This dish is one of many marked with a red chili symbol on the menu, signifying the heat factor. The finger-length long strips of breaded shrimp were crispy (thought probably would have held up better if eating at the restaurant itself), but not overly so, and tossed with small bits of onion and garlic. The peppery salt, though not very visible, was evident once I started taking some bites. The heat coming from the salt was of that sharp piercing variety. This dish was decent in my books, the squid was well sized, and was not rubbery or chewy.
The second dish was from the pork section – Sliced Pork with Hot Pepper & Dry Spinach ($10.50) – again with the red chili mark. This was stir-fried in a bland thick sauce, and despite the claim of having some hot peppers, there was not heat coming off this dish at all. The combination of pork and spinach was a first for me, and tasted well together but the false advertising on the spiciness left a bad taste in my mouth. Near the bottom of the container, there was this thick layer of oil, very unappealing.
Finally, to get some more substance, the House Special Chow Mein ($10.50) was selected. This was described as a pan-fried skinny noodle, topped with meat, vegetables and sauce. What this really entailed was pork, squid, scallops, broccoli, mushrooms, and green peppers. Perhaps because it was the take-out version, the noodles were really soggy with the sauce, as I hoped they would be a lot more crispier. A very mediocre dish overall.
As I was afraid of again, the overall high use of vegetable oil in all the dishes, really turned me off this place, despite it being the best of the limited neighborhood lot when it comes to Chinese takeout. I have some friends who used to go a lot more often and now don’t venture in anymore because of this. I think I will join them in the boycott crowd, as by just taking a sample of each dish onto my plate, I was getting that heavy, weighed down feeling from the over oily food, and the limited heat just did not measure up either.
Ginger and Chili Szechuan Cuisine
4423 10th Avenue West
Tel: (604) 222-2223
Hours: Tue-Sun, 11:30am to 3pm & 4:30pm to 10pm; closed Mon