Grand Szechuan in Bloomington, MN has been on our list to re-visit since moving back to the Twin Cities
Back when we lived in Bloomington eight years ago, we visited Grand Szechuan occasionally. I don’t remember loving the handful of dishes we ordered from both the American Chinese and more traditional Chinese menus. But we liked them well enough.
The one food we specifically returned for were the scallion pancakes. Jake especially loved these scallion pancakes, adding Grand Szechuan to our dining rotation specifically for the pancakes. We’d order extra to enjoy for leftovers.
We remember these scallion pancakes as soft and almost croissant-like flaky. I think they inspired me to try to make a Cook’s illustrated recipe in which you make the dough, roll out into pancakes, roll up the pancakes spread with sesame oil and scallions into ropes, roll the ropes into coils, and roll out the coils into pancakes again. They turned out nothing like Grand Szechuan’s and so I never tried making them again.
Between our moves to and from the cities, we have ordered onion pancakes every time we seem them on a menu hoping they’d be like Grand Szechuan’s, but they’re never the same. They’re usually crisp with a deep-fried texture. Delicious but not the same.
Anyway, when I saw that Grand Szechuan recommendation, I knew the meal was going to be solid.
We ordered a few dishes from each side of menu: The Chengdu Spicy Wontons, Szechuan Onion Pancakes, Fish Flavored Eggplant, Chung King Chili Chicken, and Milky Crispy Shrimp.
The look on Jake’s face when he saw the plate of scallion pancakes told me all I needed to know. For, they were the crispy ones.
We wondered if we imagined the soft, flaky ones all these years. Although the pancakes left us feeling a bit wistful, they were the best crisp version we’ve tried so far. I liked the sweet (but not too sweet), brown dipping sauce.
These wontons are filled with a flavorful meat filling and topped with something garlicky and delicious. Despite the red color, the chili oil in which they sat wasn’t notably spicy.
This is one of the best meals out that we’ve enjoyed lately. Our favorite dish turned out to be the eggplant. Even though it’s called fish-flavored (or fragrant) eggplant, the sauce does not taste like fish. The eggplant is cooked to a perfect silky texture and the savory sauce has a lot of depth. We kept dipping everything into the eggplant sauce.
Milky Crispy Shrimp is like Honey Walnut Shrimp without the walnuts. The shrimp had that snappy, fresh texture and tasted fresh. Surrounded by steamed broccoli, it was all in all satisfying.
The chung king chili chicken is a dish we liked, but would replace with something else next time. It was like a dry stir-fry of boneless chicken pieces tossed with a lot of dried chilis, bell peppers and onion.
At least two of the dishes we ordered were indicated as spicy on the menu with chili peppers. We have a higher heat tolerance and they didn’t strike us especially hot, but also didn’t request extra spicy. Next time we’ll give that a try.
There’s a lot to order on Grand Szechuan’s large menu. We liked the Milky Crispy Shrimp and eggplant so much that we’ll order them again. Sometimes it’s hard to branch out when you find something you really like, and, at this age, I’m just going to roll with it.
On some final notes, the portion sizes are generous and the service was excellent. Beer is served with chilled glasses. Our server was especially welcoming and went above and beyond. We look forward to returning.