There is nothing in the outward appearance of Midtown's Lan Sheng that suggests "excellent eating ahead". Not their generic, slightly-dingy, borderline-depressing space on 39th near Sixth, which was recently made even less appealing by the addition of scaffolding. Not their cheesy website, which for no reason at all features a stock photo of a strawberry smoothie.
But don't be fooled! Lan Sheng not only earned a coveted Michelin star last October (which helps especially with the tourist trade), but since opening in 2009 it has been making local "Best of" lists from every savvy Szechuan junkie I know. Glenwood residents within three miles of Bryant Park (such as Paramount Tower or The Regent): If you're not ordering your Sichuan Chinese food from Lan Sheng, now is the time to start.
Give Lan Sheng a Try, You'll be Glad You Did
Like I said, Lan Sheng is not a visually enticing establishment, and despite all the raves, I almost didn't bother… especially since, at 5:15p.m. or so when I arrived for an early supper, much of the staff were taking naps, sprawled across booths, or heads down on tables. Not that I have anything against naps, but still. Anyway, the best decision I made all week was NOT to bail on Lan Sheng, but to sit and try a couple of things. Because this food is awesome. Incendiary and numbing, deeply flavored, cooked with care, Lan Sheng's got heat and intensity and POW.
Lan Sheng's Mile Long Menu
The Lan Sheng menu is a mile long, so I picked a couple of things almost at random. Both were total winners. Under Cold Appetizers I went the offal route (there's a lot of organ meat at Lan Sheng), with the Ox Tongue and Tripe, both sliced paper-thin, both incredibly tender, the roasted chili and peanut sauce just on the exact right side of insanely spicy. And my entree was just as thrilling, a platter of Cumin Lamb, again perfectly tender, with plenty of whatever that chili is that numbs your lips as you wolf it all down. I can't wait to go back, snoozing staffers and all, to try more of the menu.
More Infomation on Lan Sheng Restaurant
Lan Sheng is located on 39th Street just east of Sixth Avenue, and is open daily for lunch and dinner, until 11:00 p.m. Delivery is free anywhere within a three mile radius. For more information, online ordering, and the complete Lan Sheng menu, click here.