Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Bensonhurst’ Category

Bamboo Pavilion

I'm happy that Brooklyn has real Sichuan restaurants at all, the strange thing is that both of them happen to be in unlikely spots (and if you're aware of more than these two, please spill the beans). Bay Ridge's Grand Sichuan House has always been good to me but I've been meaning to try Bensonhurst's Bamboo Pavilion for eons. I finally got around to it this weekend and I still can't declare either a winner; the food is comparable. I would only give GSH the edge for being slightly closer to me.

Neither is big on atmosphere, though both are a small notch up from typical Chinatown fluorescent bulbs and formica. Actually, Bamboo Pavilion has an interesting solution to keeping the tabletops free of impossible-not-to-splash chile oil: a plastic hospital-green disposable tablecloth that they grab all the plates up in bindlestiff-style.

The most tangible difference was that BP seemed to have a lighter hand with the Sichuan peppercorns, or a weaker batch, perhaps. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, the Sichuan food I've had in Hong Kong (I've never been to Chengdu…one of these days) is so wildly metallic and buzzy that you lose all sense of taste.

Bamboo pavilion banchan

The "banchan" (I don't know the word for small Chinese dishes that come with a meal) was an unexpected extra. I've never received more than peanuts at any other Sichuan restaurant. Here, there was also cold, smoked duck and pickled bean sprouts.

Bamboo pavilion tongue & tripe in chile oil

The tripe and tongue in chile oil was spicy and perked up by the cilantro and chopped peanuts, but like I said, no extreme mouth numbing effects.

Bamboo pavilion dan dan noodles

James always orders dan dan noodles, though I'm content with just a plate of chile oil drenched offal to start. These were served warm. I've never been able to get a clear sense of optimal dan dan noodle temperature since I've encountered hot, room temperature and cold versions. Even sticking to ground pork or beef isn't consistent. This was pork. 

Bamboo pavilion lamb with hot sauce

Nobody can beat the cumin lamb at Little Pepper, but I'll always give a lamb dish a chance. This was hot and contained lots of oil-softened leeks and red pepper slices but the meat needed some char. It appeared to have been coated in flour before sautéing but didn't get enough time in the pan, which resulted in some doughy patches.

Bamboo pavilion fish with hot bean sauce

We wanted seafood and were hesitant to try the fish with hot bean sauce after being told, "Americans like this one." That made me want to pick one of the piscine delights only labeled in Chinese characters that was displayed in the free standing photo flip menu, instead. I actually have no idea what species this white-fleshed fish was, but it was what I expected: delicate meat smothered with a strong chile sauce, toban djan. Don't expect the saltiness of fermented black beans, the beans here are favas. Favas seem so greenmarket and now, and well, European, but they grow in Asia too.

Bamboo pavilion green beans

Green beans with pork are a basic, always welcome vegetable. You have to have at least one non-meaty item. The whole back page of the picture menu was devoted to dishes using wild mushrooms. The strict focus on fungi was kind of cool but I balked at prices in the mid-teens because I am cheap that way. I would consider swapping a mushroom creation for a fish preparation if I go again.

Bamboo Pavilion * 6920 18th Ave., Brooklyn, NY

World Tong


I imagine that dim sum can be civilized, but in my experience it has never
been a tidy orderly affair. Thats OK, ordering from a menu kind of takes the
fun out of it anyway. But you do have to be in the proper frame of mind to
deal, particularly with World Tong. We might not have been up to it this
Sunday. It was just too hot for all the crowding. And being first-timers we
had to pick up procedures on the fly.

It quickly became apparent that numbers were not being called in English
when countless customers who arrived after us began taking spots at tables.
I'm still not sure how youre supposed to get seated if you don't know your
number is up, you have to pester the host if you can even get close to him.

Order is luck of the draw, and the women with carts tend to keep the
lids on the metal steamer containers so mere glances arent telling. I tried
taking cues from the two groups at our round table. If they seemed
interested in what was being hawked, I would wait and see what they were
handed then make a split second decision. We managed to amass shrimp
dumplings, shrimp in bean curd skin, sweet and sour spareribs, turnip cakes,
mini pork chive buns sprinkled with sesame seeds, a chile popper affair
filled with a seafood paste and a large plate of suckling pig.

Dim summing can be frustrating if you fear disorder (and sitting with
strangers), but as far as risks go, dumplings are on the low end. I've never
had any major duds. Not even the tripe, which I've learned not to order
because I'm the only one wholl eat it and the portion is too generous. While
good, you don't want to fill your stomach with anothers. All in all the meal
only amounted to $28, which is amazing considering the pork was a $10.95
special. That averages out to around $2.50 per plate.

Next I would like to attempt weekday dim sum. Maybe Ill finagle it soon
and get the kinks worked out at a more leisurely pace.

World Tong * 6202 18th Ave., Brooklyn, NY