Cobble Hill

Brooklyn Dining Club: Shan Szechuan delights with a spicy, intimate gathering

October 6, 2023 Andrew Cotto
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Brooklyn Dining ClubOn the evening of Oct. 3, Shan Szechuan hosted the Brooklyn Dining Club. The bespoke dining events pair Brooklyn’s finest eateries with food-loving New Yorkers who crave a collective social experience.

The upscale Szechuan restaurant located at 191 Smith St. in Cobble Hill welcomed a group of Brooklyn Dining Club guests through the airy front room with muted colors and a regal bar, through a dining corridor to a spacious private area where a large, rectangular table was set for 12 guests.

The Brooklyn Eagle’s lead food writer, yours truly, served as host to those who had come as couples and those who came along for the ticketed tasting menu. The guests were welcomed with a Plum Reviver, a refreshing cocktail of Roku Gin infused with salted plum, orange liqueur, Lilet Blanc, Absinthe, lemon juice and plum sugar.

The main dining area of Shan Szechuan. (Bottom right) The Plum Reviver.
Photo: Andrew Cotto
The private table at Shan Szechuan.
Photo: Andrew Cotto

Two appetizer courses were served separately and family style. The first is a snappy, bright okra with Szechuan pepper sauce; the latter is a Ma-la Szechuan wonton cloaked in soy and spice brightened by scallions.

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The four entree courses (each paired with wine) included Chungking Spicy Chicken (Sparkling Rosé), Ma-po Tofu with Lobster (Sparkling Rosé), Braised Whole Fish with Garlic (Illume Chardonnay, 2014), and Shredded Beef with Cayenne Pepper (Zinfandel). The expertly curated wine selections tempered the ever-increasing spiciness of each course while complimenting the flavors. Plenty of steamed white rice was served, as well, to absorb the abundant spice that characterizes Szechuan cuisine.

The Ma-po tofu with lobster.
Photo: Andrew Cotto

Acclaimed Chef Tang Yong escaped from his bustling kitchen to a spontaneous round of applause and a translated Q&A with the host that touched on food memories from childhood in Chengdu, his methods for elevating Szechuan cuisine, the best dish on the a la carte menu (answer: Double Cooked Pork or the Spicy Cumin Lamb), and his favorite non-Chinese cuisine in New York (no answer). After fielding some questions from the guests, Chef Yong returned to his kitchen to another round of applause.

Dessert was Yuzu Coconut Cotta.

Shan Szechuan is a sophisticated and friendly restaurant with exceptional service and an elegant ambiance. All Brooklyn Dining Club attendees were elated by the experience, including Midwood-based composer Paul Libman.

“I felt like I’d hit the trifecta — a delightful evening celebrating three of my favorite things: the venerable Brooklyn Eagle, some of the borough’s choicest cuisine and the company of bright, interesting people. The wine and conversation flowed freely, course after remarkable course appeared (and was promptly dispatched), leaving what began as a group of strangers a sated, happy bunch of new friends. I look forward to the next one.”

Readers who wish to know about future Dining Club events may be notified, with no obligation, by clicking here.

Andrew Cotto has been eating his way through Brooklyn for 25 years. As an author, the food of our borough has been featured extensively in his novels and journalism. In his new column for the Daily Eagle, Andrew will tell the tales of Brooklyn eateries, from the people behind the food to the communities which they nourish.

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