Anthony

September 4, 2015
100 US Highway 22
Green Brook, NJ 08812
  • Cost: $$$
  • Credit Cards: All Major
  • Alcohol: BYO
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Take Out: Yes

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September 4, 2015

Review

I was shocked when EthnicNJ’s favorite Chinese restaurant closed this summer. While Cedar Grove’s Chengdu 1 is no more, its mouth-splitting Sichuan menu lives on at Chengdu 1 Palace in Green Brook, NJ.

Fish Fillet Hot Pot @ Chengdu 1 Palace - Greenbrook, NJ

Fish Fillet Hot Pot

For years, Chengdu 1 was THE place for sichuan food in Jersey. In a no-frills space next to a (now defunct) cineplex off Route 23, happy tables filled by mostly Mandarin-speakers enjoyed the fiery pleasures of Sichuan peppercorns. The spicy, creamy Ma Po Tofu at Chengdu 1 became my reference point for the dish. Adventurous diners could order Sichuan specialties like Frog Meat with Yellow Chives, Pig’s Intestine in Spicy Fine Pot, and Ox Tongue, Tripe with Hot & Pepper Sauce. Together with Chengdu 23 in Wayne, Chendu 1 was a key destination on New Jersey’s “Sichuan trail.”

Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu

Last year, Chengdu 1 opened a second location on Route 22 West in Green Brook, in the building that used to be Dynasty Restaurant, a popular spot for dim sum. Chengdu 1 Palace serves the same great food, at similar prices, in fancier surroundings.

Ants Climbing the Tree

Ants Climbing the Tree

The extensive menu includes most, if not all, of Chengdu 1’s Sichuan specialties, as well as more familiar Cantonese and Chinese-American standards. If you like spice, stick to the Sichuan selections. Dan Dan Noodles and Spicy Baby Wontons arrive in a very spicy, not too oily, red Sichuan sauce. Order Ants Climbing the Tree for translucent noodles with ground pork. Salt & Pepper SpareribsSautéed Lamb and Volcano Chicken are all delicious. Portions are large. The Chengdu 1 Palace menu also includes traditional and Sichuan-style hot pots that can feed a few people at a time.

Outside @ Chengdu 1 Palace - Green Brook, NJ

We were fortunate to visit Chengdu 1 Palace with a friend who has lived in China and could consult with our server in Mandarin. The resulting fish fillet hot pot is one of the spiciest, most flavor-packed Sichuan dishes I have tried. Your mouth starts tingling and goes numb from the peppercorns, but you can’t put down the chopsticks. Cold water, I find, exacerbates the tingling sensation.

Dining Room @ Chengdu 1 Palace - Greenbrook, NJ

The ample dining rooms at Chengdu 1 Palace have large tables, perfect for family-sized groups. Service is fast and friendly. Servers are happy to help explain the more exotic offerings. Mandarin certainly helps, but isn’t required to eat well here.

Sign @ Chengdu 1 Palace - Greenbrook, NJ

Chengdu 1 Palace assumes the title of EthnicNJ’s favorite Chinese, and favorite Sichuan, restaurant. Essex County’s loss is Somerset County’s gain. Chengdu 1 Palace is a little farther from EthnicNJ headquarters, but we will happily reroute our food excursions along Route 22 toward Green Brook whenever we want some of the best Sichuan food in the Garden State.

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2 Responses to “Chengdu 1 Palace”

  1. Beth E. says:

    I loved Chengdu 1 and now equally love Chengdu 1 Palace. The Mapo tofu is one of my favorite dishes. It is a great place to go with a large group because you can order lots of different dishes and not spend a lot of money. As a matter of fact I need to put a group together to go soon.

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