Dan Dan Mian: Little Sichuan Express vs. Classic Sichuan
On hearing of the rumored downfall of Little Sichuan in San Mateo, I jumped at the chance to join a friend for a revisit to the sister restaurant, Little Sichuan Express in Fremont last month. I can report that things seemed much the same as before and it remains one of my favorite Sichuan restaurants.
Little Sichuan Express is bare-bones, but bright, cheery and clean. Mid-afternoon, the ladies on duty were happy to see us on this stormy day and greeted us warmly. Still not much English spoken here and we mostly handled the ordering by pointing to items on the menu. With each spicy hot dish we asked for, our waitress made a brave face and said, “oooh!” which was pretty cute repeated six times or so.
Interior shot of Little Sichuan Express:
The dan dan mian (DDM) was one of the biggest servings I’ve seen, not just a small snack size bowl. The tender pork was cut into the tiny shreds, rather than ground, but this is the way it was served at the mother ship in San Mateo too. Unlike San Mateo, the version here had some sesame paste richness to it. It was only moderately hot and oddly, didn’t have any Sichuan peppercorns. Even so, it was plenty tasty and I would order it again.
Little Sichuan Express’s DDM:
Little Sichuan Express Chowdown Report
DDM at Little Sichuan San Mateo
Then a couple weeks ago I had a chance to stop by Classic Sichuan in Millbrae for a quick solo Sunday lunch. The owner and staff here allegedly come from Little Sichuan in San Mateo. I was amazed at new, attractive décor, quite an upgrade from Kwong’s, which had become rather shabby.
Classic Sichuan’s interior:
The serving size of DDM was even bigger here, and like Little Sichuan Express had strips of pork except that the knife work was less delicate. The pork was cut thicker and was tough in some spots. The menu mentions peanut sauce, and it’s heaped on in gobs here dominating every flavor except the fiery burn. This was definitely hotter, but was quite out of balance in flavor, and the gloppy sauce was off-putting.
Classic Sichuan’s DDM:
While I wouldn’t order the DDM again, many of the plates passing by looked good and smelled even better. The menu of Sichuan specialties is quite extensive and I’ll be back to try more.
Head’s up on Classic Sichuan opening:
Deeg67’s Survey of Classic Sichuan:
Had dinner @ Classic Sichuan last night & we'd go back--maybe next time a little preprandial pepcid ac though.
Had the chicken soup with is indeed fantastically good. Should have had 2. Salted string beans arrived much different than expected and really good--they're chopped up in tiny peices with red (not hot) and green (super hot) peppers with a plasantly salinic taste, not overpoweringly salty. I wanted to have dan dan mein but my husband thought I said ja ja mein so we had those noodles with hot bean paste--good, not terribly hot at all, noodles a bit on the mushy side. I ordered "Wild Organic Fried Beef Strips " and it came....beef tripe! If you're a fan--looked good. If you're not (I'm not) stay away from the "strips". They let us exchange it for another dish so we had the Beef in Chili Oil (or some such title) on the SIchuan menu. It was hot but not killer and the beef (most of it) was of reasonable tenderness and flavor with some chewy bits. They were quite nice and the restaurant was farily well occupied for a Wed. dinnertime. Another table had a hot pot with chicken and chestnuts that looked tasty. Also--loved the daikon pickle served on all of the tables, not so much the wet peanuts.
Alright, allow me to settle the question of DDM in the Bay once and for all! I am an SF native and have tried a lot of DDM at Chinese restaurants all over SF and the Bay Area. I have found a very wide range of styles and quality. The best of all of them in my opinion is Panda Country Kitchen on Geary between 11th and 12th. That place is very good in general if you are looking for authentic Szechuan food.
Panda Country Kitchen
4737 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118