Who has the best Hot and Sour Soup?
I have eaten hot and sour soup in just about every restaurant in Chinatown. Nobody does it great. I ask for it extra hot and extra spicy but it seems like everyone makes it just to give free with the lunch specials and nobody really tries to make it as good as it can be. In fact, if I really want a good bowl of hot and sour I have to ask my wife to make it! (She makes the BEST).
The only bowl in CT that I like is at Zen Mei Bistro but they put red pepper in it instead of black pepper. Not traditional (is hot and sour soup at all traditional or authentic? dunno) but it is very good and very chunky, not starchy.
Any recs? Prefer CT but not too far out is okay, too.
I've always liked "Chinese Friends'" (on north broadway) H&S-S, though it's probably been a decade since I had it. It is, however, the H&SS that I "started" on, 20 + years ago, so it's a nostalgia falvor, sort of like "like my mom useta make..." for me.
Hot and sour soup is not a Cantonese dish, but most of the restaurants in Chinatown are Cantonese. Under the general rule of thumb that Chinese restaurants don't succeed at other regional cuisines, it's not surprising that you haven't found anything exceptional in Chinatown.
Hot and sour soup is not Cantonese, who are generally known to have an aversion to spicy dishes. Once, I was eating in Hong Kong with some locals, and they thought I was crazy when I started eating green bell peppers. I managed to convince one of them that it wasn't hot at all. With great trepidation, he took a bite, promptly spit it out, and drank a whole cup of water....I emerged from the dinner with quite a culinary reputation!
Anyhow, I'd guess that it would be a Sichuan dish, so you might want to look for it in a Sichuan restaurant.
HOT-AND-SOUR SOUP (suan la rou si tang) is indeed a classic Sichuanese banquet dish according to Fuchsia Dunlop in LAND OF PLENTY...pg.329. Unfortunately, I have not found a great version of this dish in this area but will try it at Chung King in San Gabriel as they haven't dissapointed me yet!
I really enjoy the version at Go China in Pasadena. On Lake, between Walnut and Union (east side of the street).
I like the hot and sour soup at Wang's Palace in Monrovia, but I always ask for chile paste on the side to jazz it up.