There are three or four Szechwan Gardens in Indianapolis. That is why I specified the one on Lafayette Road. I cannot imagine any actual foodies, that don’t like Chinese food. I recall watching a television program (on the food network. Naturally) talking about Chinese food restaurants in the United States. The commentator remarked that were more Chinese restaurants in the US than McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell combined. They also showed one of the proprietors who commented. “Americans love Chinese food because they don’t know how to cook it.” Pat and I were discussing this at lunch with our server, and I remarked that I understood the technique of stir fry, etc. it was the sauces that I found mysterious because I didn’t know what was in them. To which our server replied “neither do we.” So, on that note, let’s do lunch.
As you can see from the extensive menu. This joint is the real deal. The sort of place where you go to get your Chinese food freak on. Pat likes it because he can usually find something with no onion. Still, he usually plays it safe. Today he ordered pork with garlic sauce.
I was like a kid in a candy store with all this new stuff to try. In Spain there are tapas. In China they have Dim Sum. Assorted small plates and dumplings meant to share. With dim sum , the pace and order of your dining is determined by the cook time. The dishes are brought out as they are completed. My first small plate was Short rib with Honey Sauce.
The pieces they used were small with big bone and as much cartilage as meat. You had to work at it but the slightly sweet sauce made it worthwhile. Besides, I rather enjoyed the slight “tooth” the cartilage offered. Besides, beef cartilage is supposed to be an effective pain reliever for arthritis. My next dish was Baby Cuttlefish in Curry Sauce.
I have had squid and octopus before, but this is the first time for cuttlefish. Since all three are cephalopods, I figured it would have similar flavor, fitting somewhere in between. I found it to be more assertive than octopus. That could be because of the curry sauce. The dish had a slightly odd flavor I could not quite describe. I am not even sure if I liked or disliked the dish. I would be willing to try the fish again, perhaps in a different sauce. Next one up was Chicken Feet in Special Sauce.
Admittedly, chicken feet are probably an acquired taste. as you can expect they don’t have a lot of meat, but to me it’s about the skin. If you like the skin on fried chicken you might like chicken feet. This particular chicken didn’t have real crispy feet but the sauce it was in was.. well.. special and good. Moving on to the deep-fried pork dumpling.
These were exceptional. A light and airy dough filled with shredded pork. It offered a sweetness more than that of just the pork. I think these dumplings would be right at home with any sort of barbecue sauce or hot sauce. I think they are definitely a must try. Lastly, we come to the Pan-fried Turnip cake.
Asian turnips have the flavor similar to a daikon radish. I have been eating them regularly, as a snack or raw in salads. So I was curious to see how the heat might change the flavor. these cakes had a slight sweetness; that could be due to the addition of heat or the recipe. Once again, this should really be on your list of things to try. If you go there.
So. I don’t know about the other Szechwan Gardens in town but I’m of the opinion if you want some Chinese food Lafayette Road is where you ought to go.