36 West 48th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
about $50 for two, with two drinks, with tip
Wu Liang Ye was highly recommended to me by a Chinese friend. As we walked on 48th Street, past the OTB, the black garbage bags in front and the two crackheads on the steps, I could see why: there was nary a white person in sight and all the wait staff are older Chinese men in suits even though it was almost 90 degrees outside.
I told one of the men in suits that I was there for a table for two. He asked me if I had a reservation. I looked around at the empty tables and said no. When I told him I will wait for the next table that opens up, he looked at me and ask, You really want to wait? He seated us in the back after five minutes.
I was looking forward to eating Sichuan food. We had a long drive to a wedding in Rhode Island ahead of us and all I wanted was spicy Chinese food. After our Tsingtaos, we ordered our usual favorites: dan dan noodles and kung pao chicken. There was nothing extra special about them, but they are our staples whenever we get Sichuan food. I noticed, though, that Grand Sichuan makes a spicier version than Wu Liang Ye. The pork dumplings that were supposed to be spicy, too, were tolerable. We knew we were only sweating because of the restaurant’s lack of air conditioning. We also ordered the bacon with leeks. They weren’t kidding about the bacon. The leeks provided the crunch while the bacon was the king of salt in the dish. We couldn’t finish it even though we wanted to.