Had dinner last night at one of my favorite and most-missed spots in NNJ, so in the interest of not having a board that’s too Shore-centric, I thought I’d start a thread.
C23, as we call it, was one of two go-to Szechuan spots for me when I lived up north, and damn if they’re still not serving some of the best of the region. I was there last night w a big group (8), which is my favorite way to eat good Chinese (or Indian, or Greek) because you get to eat so many dishes. The crew let me order so we got all of the usual favorites:
Pork dumplings in hot chili oil*
Vegetable dumplings** with hot oil on the side
Boneless spare ribs
Baby bok choy in garlic
Snow pea leaves
Dry sauteed string beans
Ants Climbing A Tree
Lamb w cumin
Prawns prepared battered/fried in szechuan peppercorns***
*Chengdu 1 Palace (in Green Brook, formerly in Cedar Grove) is the standard-bearer for me when it comes to these, and while C23’s version is very good, the dumplings here are a little too large for my taste
**We had two (what I call) vegequariums ™ at the table (they eat fish and seafood). I love them anyway.
***Chengdu 1 makes Hot and Spicy Jumbo Prawns that are SPECTACULAR. As in, we normally order one more round for ‘dessert.’ Got that? Nobody else anywhere makes them as good, but we’ve found variations on the theme that are more than acceptable. C23 has a hot/spicy fried scallop dish and we get them to make it with prawns for us. We ended up with 3 orders. They’re more heavily battered than at C1P (where they use JUMBO prawns, leave the shells on, and barely coat them in rice flour before the quick fry and over there, we eat them shells and all. SIGH…
If there was a ‘disappointment’ in the bunch (and there really wasn’t), it was the baby bok. We usually get the baby bok with black mushrooms–an entire plate of halved bok with a pile of mushrooms on the top. But when Dad says he wants baby bok with garlic, that’s what gets ordered. Sadly, there was barely a hint of garlic, but it’s not like they were bad!
All of this food + 4 dishes of ice cream (including an excellent green tea) + a hefty tip = $30pp.
Note: All of my raving about C1P does NOT discount the fact that C23 serves fantastic Szechuan, and if you’re in that part of the world and haven’t eaten there, you must–it’s that simple. It’s in the corner spot next to Home Goods in West Belt Mall, behind Willowbrook. Go. And take friends!
Have had the pleasure of eating here (C23) 3x over the past year as it is convenient for family get togethers. I am not the Szechuan expert by any means, but here are some of the standouts in my mind.
For reference, I enjoy extra hot food. I’m the dope who tells the waitress to dare the cook to make wings too hot. Thermonuclear at Cluck-U is a standard order.
Adding to curlz, some of the things he didn’t mention…
App of ox tongue and tripe, nice heat. Good flavor, not a gamey tripe at all.
Firehouse Chicken very tasty.
Sauteed Flounder filet with Hot Chili powder (my favorite so far)
I’d like to get here with an Asian or two in tow :D. As like many places, the wait staff may try to dissuade non-Asians from some dishes. Also, case in point a couple of weeks ago I wanted some “noodles” for the New Year, but I didn’t know how to order the right ones. I tried to explain that I wanted some “Chinese not American noodles”, but the waiter just kept saying lo mein. Of course I got American Chinese lo mein as a result.
Great place though and I look forward to our next visit.
We had takeout from Chengdu 23 through Uber Eats tonight. We had spicy cumin lamb, Sichuan spicy pot with shrimp, beef, chicken, and fish filet, ants climbing a tree, and Sichuan pork dumplings with roasted chili vinaigrette. I was disappointd because I wanted to try the whole fish with chengdu hot bean paste and chili sauce, but it wasn’t available through Uber Eats (since it is a market price item). This is no Chengdu 1 but still pretty good and convenient. I just wish they would make the hot and spicy prawns and lobster like they make at Chengdu 1 Palace. It all went great with a 2013 Bergevin Lane Moonspell Columbia Valley cabernet which brought out the spiciness of the dishes.
After years of going to both, I can tell you that C23 does some dishes extraordinarily well-they’re just not the same as C1! I’d have to look at the menu, but we finally figured out that there’s one dish on the C23 menu (it might be a scallop dish) and we asked them to make it using shrimp and it was as close as we got to the prawns, but nobody beats C1 on those!
I love C23’s ants, and the volcano chicken is also a go-to.
Damn…now I want Szechuan food!!
We had the spicy scallop dish last time. It was good, but not crispy by the time it was delivered. Like you mentioned 2 years ago, it has too much batter. I’ll have to try the volcano chicken at some point.
Yes, Chengdu 1 is still my favorite. I wish they were still at their old location in Cedar Grove, which was only 10 minutes away from me. Chengdu 23 is just convenient, and they deliver through Uber Eats which is great on rainy, snowy, or lazy days. C23 Ants climbing a tree are comparable to C1. Flavor wise C23 Sichuan dumplings are comparable to C1 but they are much heavier. Nothing comes close to C1’s Hot & Spicy jumbo prawns or Lobster prepared similarly. Service is probably horrible in both, but you don’t go to these places for service or ambience. It’s all about the food. At least at C1 I know Jessica and she knows what we want. It would just be nice to get the appetizers before the entrees for once
We have been to Chengdu 23 in Wayne next to home goods twice. The lamb with cumin and whole fish we ordered for sure I don’t remember everything else because it’s been a while, pretty sure I posted here. While it was way better than anything else in the area IMO it wasn’t great. I’ll dig around for pics.
We normally eat out Saturday nights, but with the ominous forecast we decided to do takeout from Chengdu 23. We tried the whole fish with minced pork, pickled vegetables and scallions in Cheng Du chili sauce. We also had the volcano chicken which was juicy and spicy. Thanks for the recommendation @CurlzNJ We also had the usual ants climbing a tree and Sichuan pork dumplings with roasted chili vinaigrette. It all went great with a spicy 2014 Domaine Le Galantin Bandol French red blend that contained 95% mourvedre and 5% Grenache. For dessert Mrs. P made coffee chocolate chip ice cream using Medaglia D’Oro coffee.