Jinli Sichuan Cuisine Marlboro [NJ]

They are new in the old Koo space. You know how sometimes a friend tells you about a new place and you want to just listen but you feel you have to try it for yourself? Well, that’s what happened to me today. A friend had dinner there yesterday and told me it was lousy, but I had to try it for myself. Here’s their menu:

and the inside:

There is a second side too and they have a lot of things to choose from, including things like Sauteed Pig Kidneys and Chongqing Grilled Blue Crabs. Drooling at the possibilities, I hoped my friend was wrong. I decided to give them a try with a few staples for as little money as possible. I got a lunch special with hot and sour soup and Twice Cooked Pork. Here’s a pic:

Unfortunately the soup was so heavy on vinegar that I had a hard time eating it. The pork was better but not much. I left regretting the time, calories, and even the $11 incl. tip that it cost. As usual, I’d love to hear from another brave soul who would try this place. But please tell me why anyone would open a second sichuan joint less than a mile from the best one around?


Interesting…I wonder why they would open up one so close to SC as well. Maybe there will be enough demand for two spots (well three I suppose if you count crown palace and I think there is even another one not too far away.) I don’t like to write a spot off after a single time either, so maybe someone can being us some good news soon.

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So, last night we tried Jinli for dinner. Now, before I start, I am a BIG fan of Sichuan Cottage and have enjoyed many, many meals there. I was curious about the offerings at Jinli because they had a few lamb dishes that I wanted to try, as well as soup dumplings.

We started out with our choice of a free appetizer, in this case cold sliced chicken with hot chili oil. My husband wanted to try it. I don’t like chicken very much, but he said it was tasty, the spices were correct and a good start to the rest of the meal. We also ordered soup dumplings. These were freshly made, they made them while we were waiting, so it took awhile. They were delicious. Filled with a savory broth, a good pork mix inside. Brought with a side of dipping sauce with sliced ginger.

We then had the mapo tofu with minced pork. The combination of the tofu and pork was delectable, it was a one chili dish, so not too spicy for our tastes. I only wish the dish had been made with extra firm tofu instead of soft tofu, as it was hard to pick up the tofu with chopsticks without it breaking apart.

Now, many, many years ago, there used to be a favorite Szechuan restaurant in NYC called Hunan Garden. They made a lamb dish that I loved and have never been able to find again. Until yesterday. It was the Lamb in Sichuan Style (3 chilis, denoting spice level). This dish was perfect. It was exactly like the one I had been tasting over and over in my mind all these years. The lamb was the star of the dish, there were sliced peppers and onions as well. This was one of the best dishes I have ever had. I just enjoyed the leftovers for breakfast, and it was just as good. Even though it was very spicy, we are accustomed to it, and enjoy it. If you are a lamb fan, this dish is not to be missed.

The final dish we enjoyed was the sliced whole fish in chili oil and peppercorns. The dish was beautifully presented, and again, it was a hit. The fish used was catfish. It was tender, there were glass noodles at the bottom of the dish that absorbed the sauce.

We were very impressed with our meal. The menu has at least three times the amount of Szechuan food offered at Sichuan Cottage. The spice levels on the dishes are authentic and have not been toned down. The head chef is from Chengdu, China, where I lived for a while. The balance of the hot chili oil and Szechuan peppercorns gave each dish an authentic Chengdu flavor. We ordered totally different dishes here than what we ever had at Sichuan Cottage, so I can’t compare the dishes side by side. From what we have tasted so far, though, and I hate saying this, I think that they are going to give Sichuan Cottage a run for their money. A few of the dishes we had blew Sichuan Cottage out of the water, mainly the fish dish, the lamb dish and the soup dumplings. We will most definitely return here.

P.S. If you are looking for shrimp in lobster sauce, egg rolls, etc. this is not the restaurant for you. This is authentic Szechuan cuisine.


OMG. I can’t believe how excited I am to read this!! HOdown, anyone?

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I’m in!!!

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I’m still unconvinced after my lousy lunch but it is right here by me, so maybe.

You had a lousy lunch there too?

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I have had more lousy lunches than most people have lunches. In the pic at the top of the thread that was how much food I left on my plates.


In for a hodown!

Ooof…I though @Shayna started this post!

I’m still game.:grin:

I’d go right now to try the crabs.

I’m in for a hodown if we can do dinner a little later or lunch/dinner on the weekend. Unfortunately this thing called work gets in the way of my eating :smile:

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Awesome report! That just made me really hungry lol.

So do you happen to know what kind of fish you had?


We tried Jinli Sichuan Cuisine for lunch yesterday, and on the whole I agree more with Shayna that with Seal. (Sorry, Seal!)

We decided to go for the lunch specials, which turned out to be more than enough for our appetites. Jinli’s lunch menu is the same number of items as Sichuan Cottage’s all-Chinese lunch menu, but not as authentic, having such dishes as General Tso’s Chicken and Beef with Broccoli, which Sichuan Cottage eschews. Still, there is plenty to choose from. I went with the Sichuan classic, Ma Po Tofu with Minced Pork; Mark had Diced Pickle with Minced Pork. Both were “one-pepper” dishes, and that was plenty spicy. (The waiter did ask if we wanted them spicy.)

We both had hot and sour soup. It was nicely vinegary and spicy. I’m not sure if that means I just like vinegar more than some–it’s quite possible.

The Ma Po Tofu was delicious, not just spicy, but also flavorful. Shayna complained about the softness of the tofu; maybe I’m just used to it, but I had no trouble eating it with chopsticks. (The chopsticks are pointed, but not so much so that there is a huge gap at the “business” end.)

The Diced Pickle with Minced Pork was … interesting. Those who complain about the smallness of pieces in the Three Pepper Chicken at Sichuan Cottage will like this even less. The texture is basically like crumbled ground beef (I am unfamiliar with what crumbled ground pork would be like, but I assume it is the same), with pickled cabbage and pickled chiles (I assume–it was cut too fine for me to tell), and definitely Sichuan brown pepper. Unlike most pictures I have seen of this, Jinli’s version is mostly pork with some vegetable, rather than vice versa. One has to eat this over rice because of the tiny pieces. It was good, and good for sharing, but as the sole main dish in a lunch, it didn’t quite make it.

Based on Shayna’s picture of the Ma Po Tofu at dinner, I would say the lunch portions are a little bit more than half the size of the dinner potions (more than enough for us). (I did not take any pictures. When the food arrives, we tend to just dig in.)

Jinli gets extra points for having brown rice as an option, and for not automatically bringing forks to Caucasians. :slight_smile:

And it’s bigger than Sichuan Cottage, with tables than could be brought together for…dare I say it…a HoDown! (And, no, I am not organizing it.)


I tried JinLi a few weeks ago after reading Seal’s review so I had low expectation going in.
We didn’t order from the lunch menu. We ordered soup dumplings, the wonton in hot oil (free appetizer), a duck dish, the man tou (steam buns), a braised beef noodle soup, and a dan dan noodle.

The meal was quite decent from what I recall.
I liked the dan dan noodle and the wonton in hot oil.
The duck was perfectly cooked but the downfall is that it was not very flavorful.
I found the “wrapper” for the soup dumpling (XLB) to be thicker than most and the size of dumpling is also bigger than most but the dumpling taste quite good.

The day I went was a Friday afternoon and the place was 75% full with mostly Chinese.

I am a fan of Sichuan Cottage but JinLi is definitely a welcome addition.


Well, that tears it. I am definitely going back. So are we gonna do this HODown? I’d love to order some of the more interesting dishes like the crab.

Upon reflection I wonder if Thursday is the regular chef’s day off?


What kind of crab dishes did they have? I’m down to try some!

Dare I say this publicly? SUNDAY? Early dinner?

I can only do lunch on Sunday.