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5 Best Szechuan Restaurants in the SGV

  • b

Here's the idea - where's the best Chinese food in L.A.? Why, the San Gabriel Valley of course, everyone knows that. And what's the most rockin' of all the Chinese cuisines? Szechuan, naturally, with its strong, pungent flavors and unusual ingredients. So here are my choices for:

The BEST 5 Szechuan restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley

1. Yung Gui Garden
2. Chung King
3. Lucky Dragon
4. Best Szechuan
5. Oriental Pearl

Yes, that's in order of fantasticness.

List based on a combination of factors including heat and flavor intensity, variety of dishes, overall deliciousness, unique dishes, quality of cold table.

I can't imagine that ANY chowhounds would have any differing opinions on a subject as cut and dried as this one.

BUT if you feel that perhaps I am in error, and would like to bring this fact to my attention, please feel free to respond.

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  1. only tried (the old) chung king and (the new) oriental pearl. you're probably right, but i can't say. don't know much about teh hardcore stuff. chung king had no hot and sour soup or kung pao chicken (one or the other or both, i don't remember), which is probably like trying to order california rolls at suhi nozawa, but i still wish they had had it.

    1. I have eaten at Best and Oriental Pearl(both Alhambra and San Gabriel locations). What do you think the top 3 do better, and why? I will probably be doing one of those 3 this Saturday night, and thus the timeliness of the question.

      1. Well...I think it's about the 'blow-me-away' factor. Chung King used to be my favorite (old location) because the spicy chicken was AMAZINGLY spicy, the spareribs with prickly ash were AMAZINGLY numbing, the boiled pork with garlic sauce was AMAZINGLY garlicky, etc. I really like strong and intense flavors, you'll have noticed. However they discontinued the spareribs with prickly ash - not sure why, so we started going to Yung Gui. They have a spicy on spicy that is truly spicy, and their Mapo tofu is BLISTERING, they also have some less spicy and non-spicy dishes which are really great, like the fish fillet and tofu in broth, and the spicy cumin lamb. You should really try it.

        The others came later for me and are probably great but the novelty of some of the dishes had worn off. So, not fair to rate them on that basis. But I'm really just trying to goad people into responding with what their favorites are, and why, so I can hopefully find some new places. Tricky, huh?

        3 Replies
        1. re: BIM

          The new location of Chung King has the spareribs with prickly ash and it is indeed amazing. I had it two weeks ago.

          1. re: oro3030

            Just wanted to agree that Chun King is again serving Szechuan peppercorns, according to J Gold's review below, which is a must-read:
            http://www.laweekly.com/eat+drink/cou...

            Haven't been there yet, but am planning to go soon, maybe today. Note that it's at the former Crown Cafe location.

        2. Is there one of these that might be better for the single diner at lunch. I often pass through the area on the way to court, but I am alone and hate to order a single large entree when a big portion of it will go to waste. In other words, do any of these places do set luncheons?

          1. do any of these restaurants have the awesome fried bread like the old schezwan palace in san marino?

            1. I think it's impossible to rank these places as they all do everything reasonably well. It does seem all specialize in certain dishes or styles. For instance, I think Lucky Dragon does the best 'water boiled' dishes. The cabbage seems to help rather than hurt the dish ' (unlike Best's carrots and mushrooms) 'cause it soaks up all the juices and serves as a nice compliment to the oil floating on top. Their peppercorns, when used in their mapo tofu, let's say, seem to have that tangy, brisky zing, as if they're soaked in lemon grass and roasted or something. Best, on the other hand, whips up more delicate, often sweeter dishes that still kick. Their spicy chicken is insane (it's the salt). I remember eating at a fancier joint in Chung Du that seemed to do this more nuanced style. Chung King feels consistent all 'round but IMO has less standouts. It's good for variety. Either way, my point still is that these places are pretty much unrankable... at least for me.

              -AK

              1 Reply
              1. re: africanizedkiller

                You're right of course - it's not really about ranking them, it's about soliciting considered analyses like yours to help raise awareness and learn some tidbits. Thanks.