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Ollie’s Sichuan Restaurant

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Ollie’s Sichuan Restaurant

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Address: 411 West 42nd Street
City: New York, NY
Zip: 10036
Phone: (212) 868-5688
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Map: Map
Cuisine: Chinese
Area: West 40s
Entree Price: $10-15
Payment: Amex Visa Mastercard

Review:

When is a chain restaurant not a chain restaurant? The answer to that seeming enigma can be found at Ollie’s Sichuan Restaurant, the newest – and extremely different outpost – of the Manhattan-based group of Chinese eateries. Ollie’s Sichuan recently opened on the site of the short-lived French restaurant, Bistro Le Vent, and has maintained some of its predecessor’s furnishings, giving it far more elegant feel than Ollie’s Times Square counterpart. It’s also much smaller than that branch, which may account for the service being more attentive and the food tasting a gazillion times fresher. Not surprisingly, this Ollie’s has already caught on with theatergoers, as well as performers – at a recent Saturday pre-show dinner, actor Harris Yulin, starring across the street at Playwrights Horizons in “Frank’s Home” was seated my on left, and Steve Solomon, the star and author of the hit comedy “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish, and I’m In Therapy” across the street at the Little Shubert, was dining with friends on my right. Yet, so far, lines out the door have happily yet to materialize, and servers aren’t rushing you back out onto the cold street. As the name indicates, the most significant difference between this and any other Ollie’s is the menu. On hand here are such authentic cold dishes – rarely seen outside of Chinatown or Flushing – as pig ear with cucumber, ox tongue with tripe spicy sauce, and a reportedly ultra-hot noodle dish called Tears in the Eye, all of which can be seen in a display case as you enter the restaurant. Being a bit of wimp in the spice department, I passed on these, as well as dozens of other such dishes that spanned the menu’s various categories. I did take a chance on one spicy entree: stir-fried vermicelli with minced pork, which lived up to its special billing. For people like me, the good news is that the more tame dishes, most of which can be found on a regular Ollie’s menu, were unusually delicious. On two different visits, my usual dining partner and I were both impressed by the greaseless roasted duck spring roll and mouthwateringly good, ultra-meaty spareribs. A portion of lemon chicken was moist and nicely fried, as was addictive orange flavored beef. And the house’s freshly sautéed pea shoots with garlic were so yummy I briefly considered converting to vegetarianism. Should you need something to cool your mouth down, the houses offers a variety of sorbets, attractively presented in their fruit’s shells. That concept extended to a rich chocolate sorbet in a cocoa pod shell that was quite satisfying once it defrosted a little at the table.

Review By: Brian Scott Lipton


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