The old cliché is that if you eat Chinese food, you’ll be hungry again one hour later. We’re not sure of that, but in reviewing restaurants, we surely want to know what’s enduring one hour, one day, even one week later. Delicious when dining, perhaps, but ultimately fantastic… or forgettable?
We’ve been bemoaning the lack of quality Chinese food in Seattle. Aside from a few Szechuan spots, very little is enduring. Dim sum is dull, xiao long bao is bad, and so much is so Americanized so as to be unrecognizable in China (hello, chop suey). Still, we wanted to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, so we decided to try out a place that’s been getting rave reviews on the food message boards: Szechuan 99.
Eight ate at 99 on 200th in 98036 (Lynnwood) recently to ring in the rat. Eight’s a nice number for dividing dishes on a Lazy Susan atop a round table. Everyone ordered one dish, and the tasting began. (Hint: At a place like this, you might want to order sushi-style – one or two dishes at a time, so you can savor them; otherwise, it can be overwhelming when everything comes out at the same time.)
An hour later, we remembered some hand-shaved noodles (always fun, though a bit salty), cumin lamb (good, but better elsewhere), eggplant (tasty, but a little too mushy), two tofu dishes (99’s popular for its tofu, but perhaps it’s overrated), duck (smoky, but served without sauce?), a signature shrimp dish (eye-candy, but cloyingly sweet), fish-and-noodle soup (pretty tasty, but a tad pasty), and a stew with fish, tripe, intestines, and blood cake (spicy, but not spicy enough) which would be our favorite – if only for tapping into our total love of organ meats. Szechwan 99’s not a bad restaurant by any means. But we weren’t wowed by anything, and wowing is what we wanted. A day later, we rated Szechuan 99 as good; better is Szechuan Chef in Bellevue, and best is right up the road (and across the border) at Golden Szechuan in Richmond.
Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on February 11, 2008. As the Year of the Ox approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to reach back to this Year of the Rat experience.