Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan Does Green Beans Heavy on the Smoke


[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

In his 2011 review, Times critic Sam Sifton called Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan's dry fried string beans—excuse me, String Beans, Sautéed and Dry ($8.95)—"brilliantly done, neither crisp nor mushy, with excellent flavor."

Two years later, they still are. And they're one of the best Chinese treatments of vegetables I've seen in some time.

Dry frying involves prolonged shallow frying in hot oil until the exteriors wrinkle, the food dehydrates, and its flavors intensify. HKofGS's beans do this and more; they're imbued with a powerful smokiness from the screaming-hot wok that elevates them from side dish to destination plate of vegetables.

After that, everything else falls into place: the beans are tender but not overcooked, a dense, pleasing firmness from edge to edge, and there's minimal oily residue on the plate. Charred skin pocks the beans with little papery spots of crispiness.

There are many good things to eat at Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan. No shortage of people will tell you to get the crisp, cumin coated stir fried lamb, for instance. But save room for these beans; they were my favorite part of the meal.