When it comes to Sichuan dumplings two words spring to mind: chili oil. So it was a pleasant surprise to discover a subtle wonton soup at Szechuan Dish in the New World Mall Food Court. The stall serves what are to my mind the best Sichuan noodles in New York City and its exquisite cold dishes, including cucumbers in chili and surprisingly smoky strips of gluten, are a staple of my Flushing food tours.
On the picture menu, where all the others item are tinted a fiery red, haĭ weì chāo shoŭ ($7), looks out of place. Although there’s no chili to be found in seafood flavor wonton soup, it has a steady buzz of spice thanks to black and white pepper. And there are so many delicate pork-filled chāo shoŭ or “folded hands,” as the square-wrappered dumplings are called in Sichuan, that I stopped counting after the first five. Chewy slices of mushroom, chunks of bamboo shoot, ginger, and the occasional mussel round out this bowl. The seafood flavor comes from tiny dried shrimp.
As I chewed the thinly sliced grey mushrooms fringed with black and breathed in the restorative seafood aroma I wondered whether some industrious cook had substituted the fungi for the more costly abalone. That question may never be answered, but I am nonetheless glad to have sussed out this most subtle of Sichuan soups.
Szechuan Dish, No. 25, New World Mall Food Court, 40-21 Main St., Flushing