Chuan Tian Xia - Sunset Park, Bkln

Yes, it was great to get together!

Apart from beer and white rice, you missed one of the “nice cold dishes.”: pork with garlic sauce.

The only other time I ate here, five years ago, I hadn’t known that Chuan Tian Xia was under Fujian ownership. That’s also true of many other restaurants in Sunset Park, particularly on Seventh Ave. The owners did hire a Sichuan chef. But the mellowness of the flavors throughout our dinner (and, as best as I can recall, throughout my first dinner here, too) suggest a Fujian take on how a good Sichuan meal should taste.


Although it was, overall, fine enough for a group outing with folks you want to talk to (&, yes, this one fit the bill for Ginny & myself), I wasn’t impressed with the food (or service) & wouldn’t rush back. On the positive side, I thought that the Griddle Cauliflower, the Salted Egg Yolk Tofu & the Fragrant Thousand Page Tofu were really excellent and, maybe if we had ordered other things in addition, that would’ve made this place a 2nd visit try for me. However, I agree that the fish soup was good for the sour & not for the fish & that the eggplant was just ok. The other dishes were clear misses for me. Serving the Chengdu Cold Noodles as thick cylinders ensured that any chance of sauce sticking to them disappeared. I’ve eaten this dish in many places and, in none of them were both the noodles & the sauce this oomph-less. The dan dan noodles were overcooked and devoid of the flavor that accompanies any freshly made pasta. And serving it with large greens (which were fresh and tasty) ruled out mixing the dish and combining flavors. I didn’t get any pork flavor from the pork dish either. The beer was good, the service seemed well intentioned & the price low ($30pp including generous tip and 1 beer for most of us), but there are places I’d rather go when jones-ing for Sichuan food.


Thanks for the reports — sorry to have missed the company, though the food seems to have been a mixed bag (as has happened before, and I’m sure will happen again)

@SteveR ill be jonesing for good Sichuan when I get back, so will look forward to recs and company both!

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we thought the food delicious but the spice and texture profile too similar across a broad swathe of dishes: the eggplant sauce tasted like the mung bean sauce which tasted like the cauliflower sauce which tasted like the dan dan noodle sauce. we’d be hard-pressed to return given the three-hour, door-to-door round trip, especially now that we have a reasonable facsimile of szechuan food on the UES in @Saregama discovery of Hui.

were we to return, it would be to order the four dishes most of us saw on another table on the way to the restroom: dry griddle whole fish with pork (i bet the pork sauce tasted like our eggplant sauce which tasted like…), chongquing chicken, chopped cucumbers and pea shoots (i think). speaking of the restroom, the attached photo positioned above the sink saved me from what might have been a terrible accident

thanks to dave for researching which dishes to order, herding us (we?) cats, managing the order and splitting up the check. it was wonderful to meet @FlemSnopes and his lovely wife and of course it was great to catch up with everyone.

already looking forward to the next get together!



I wanted so much to come to this dinner. Not because of the food, since we have an outpost of this very same restaurant where I live, but to meet up with a veritable Who’s Who of Big Apple food exploration. Legendary names from the oldest days of Chowhound. But when I heard about the US Open bug, I decided not to risk it.

Thousand page tofu has apparently become a really big thing in parts of China and Taiwan, and it’s not even clear that it is always made with tofu (!). The essential idea is that it has a lot of tiny holes in it, sometimes caused by freezing it first:

Both the griddled caulifower and the thousand page tofu were big hits at our Rockville, MD lunch. There was so little sauce that it seemed not even worth mentioning, especially since the texture of the ‘burnt’ cauliflower and the tofu dominated those dishes.

Hate missing out on anything! Sounds like fun even with so-so food. I’m in Paris now with Alec (my cousin whom a lot of you know), and he thoroughly enjoyed L’Assiette’s cassoulet and crémé caramel (that some of you know) even in 95 degree heat last night!

Looking forward to seeing you all soon!


I think the thousand page tofu was the standout, with the cauliflower in second position and the eggplant next (good but maybe a little oversweet, not a standout version of this dish) The cold noodle sauce was good but it did not adhere to the very slippery and fragile noodles at all, and the dan dan dish was quite bland I was a proponent of ordering the fish with sour greens and regretted my recommendation, have had better versions elsewhere, And the cold pork belly with over the top garlicing in the sauce was not to my taste - the meat was flabby and I did not get much flavor from it.
I think there are likely some additional very good dishes on the menu,but I would be more inclined to try some of the other Szechuan options in town than to returning any time soon. Having rendered my criticism I want to thank those who shared the meal for their very pleasant company. It was a pleasure!


i’m starting to get the sense that a fujian shortcut to szechuan cooking may involve the use of La doubanjiang. I thought that was the common thread across many of the dishes.

I should weigh in, since I suggested Chuan Tian Xia. I’m always reluctant to judge a restaurant with a large menu by a single meal, but I can say that I enjoyed my meal at the Rockville branch of Chuan Tian Xia a good bit more than our meal together in Sunset Park.

Here are the dish-by-dish reactions for Toni and me:

  • Pork in garlic sauce - This was a big miss for both of us. I think this probably wasn’t due to any poor execution of the dish, but the nature of the dish itself. We had a very similar dish earlier in our trip at Atlas Kitchen up near Columbia University and did not like that at all either (the leftovers ended up being thrown away). It just seems like limp, almost uncooked bacon.

  • Chengdu cold noodle - We both joined the consensus here, kind of tasteless since the sauce wouldn’t adhere to the big chunky noodles.

  • Dan dan noodles - Toni makes these pretty regularly at home, riffing on a recipe from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan cookbook and, while Toni won’t say it, her version is way better than this kind-of-bland dish. We both thought this dish wasn’t bad, but it could have been so much better. Very underspiced and not very savory.

  • Griddled cauliflower - We both liked this one a lot (and cauliflower is not always a favorite ingredient for me). As @vinouspleasure noted, however, the sauces on a lot of these dishes were very similar. The sauce is good, but very similar (though less crispy) to the uber-popular Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp that we tend to put on anything we cook that ends up needing a little extra zing.

  • Fish with sour greens - Here, Toni and I had a big difference. I loved the sour broth, though I agree that the fish seemed like an afterthought and was not interesting standing alone. But the taste profile of the soup was new to me. I like sour and I like novelty, so this one seemed very good to me (I can’t compare it to other versions, like Jen). Toni thought the sour fish flavor was “interesting,” but not something she’d want to eat a lot of. And the fish was just okay – a more substantial chunkier fish would have been a better fit for the soup.

  • Salted egg yolk tofu - Toni is a hard sell where tofu (especially soft tofu) is concerned and she did not care for this. I liked it quite a bit, but would put it in the category of comfort food. It would probably have been better if it had been balanced with some fiery Sichuan dishes. To me (and as Dave points out), this was a pretty muted version of Sichuan spicing. The restaurant in Rockville did not suffer from that problem. Steve from DC ordered that meal and I think he probably stressed that we wanted it spicy (he usually does).

  • Thousand page tofu - I liked this pretty well, but was expecting a chewier dish, closer to tofu skin. It was fine. Toni, a demanding critic where tofu is at issue, was less impressed and thought it too soft and bland. I honestly didn’t remember that we had this at our Rockville lunch, so I can’t compare the two versions. Obviously, I didn’t find the version in Rockville memorable (though Steve from DC says he did).

  • Fish-flavored eggplant - Toni and I both loved this (and I got additional helpings so many times that I thought I was hogging the dish). Neither of us have had this before. To me, this was the highlight of the meal.

This dish-by-dish review sounds harsher than our actual overall impression. I enjoyed the meal and if this was a neighborhood restaurant for me, I’d probably return at least once more to explore different parts of the menu.

I don’t usually care much about service, but I thought the service here was fine (though the servers were very young and seemed a little intimidated).


I was delighted that we got a private room so that I could hear and get to know everyone. I want to thank everyone involved for reaching out and making Toni and me feel so welcome and for all the tremendous suggestions and food. I had no idea when I posted my “We’re coming to town, where do y’all think we should eat?” message on HO that we would get such an outpouring of support and personal connections.

Ziggy, vinouspleasure, Patrice (too bad we don’t live here, your book club would be a perfect fit for Toni), SteveR, Ginny, small_h, ninkat, Dave Cook (we had dinner with friends last night and a long-time New Yorker said, “Wow, you got to eat with Dave Cook!”), Jen Kalb, and Jim, thank you all.

If any of you come to the DC area, let us know. We’d love to show you some of our local highlights (get ready for Vietnamese, Ethiopian, and Korean).

Doug (and Toni)


Reading all the reviews of the pork belly made me have some serious deja vu, and I realized that our HO group meal at Jiang Nan last year was similarly meh on the food but still great fun. (I liked the sauce on the pork belly there, and it was presented very prettily, but the pork was boiled and tasteless as I expect it is supposed to be).

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I will point out to Jeff that I know of at least one time when some “no squatting” instructions would have been useful.

We were on a return flight from Istanbul to DC and there was a woman onboard in a full burka, head to toe covered. At some point in the flight, I got up to use the restroom and the door was ajar, so I just pushed it open.

Leading to a loud scream! And my rapidly backing out of the toilet.

There before me was the lady in the burka, burka hiked up well above her waist, squatting on the airline toilet seat. I was quite shocked, but I’m pretty sure she was even more shocked than me.

I should have written to Turkish Airlines suggesting that they should put up not only Chuan Tian Xia’s schematic on how to use a non-squatting western toilet, but also instructions (in Turkish and Arabic) on how to lock the bathroom door.

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Hopefully someone will organize another similar dinner over the next 3-4 weeks, while I’m in NY. Even if the food isn’t outstanding, the company and conversation is.

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Give us some dates for when you’re here and available & we’ll set up a dinner (or two).

I’m available for a late lunch or dinner anytime almost every day from Sept 18 through Oct 8 except for the following:
Tues Sept 19
Tues Oct 3
Thurs Oct 5

I’m pm’ing the group regulars (& will include you) to see who is available during that 1st week.

But if that somebody could herd the cats, what sort of dinner are you hankering for?


I forget to check out the NYC board. Nice looking meal. This is one of our regulars even though food can be uneven sometimes. When its on it on. The cauliflower is a must for us, and so is the string beans. One of our faves is the “Hot and spicy fish fillet” though it was a little off last time. We also really like the Kung Pao chicken here, more than their version of Chongqing where they slice them too small for my liking.

For big tray fish we go to Hot Space.

FYI you can “follow” the nyc board, which will give you notifications of new posts

Thanks. I thought about this possibility while I wrote that :slight_smile: