Visit to HongYei Restaurant [SGV-sichuan plus]
Intrigued by ipsedixit's brief comments from earlier this week about a new Sichuan restaurant, we grabbed our copy of Carl Chu [1st edition] and after the pups attended their first performance for the summer sounds program at the Hollywood Bowl, we headed out.
first point of interest: The only exit to the left off the "speedy lane" aka car pool lane on the 10 is the one at Del Mar. If you go past that to exit at San Gabriel Blvd, you can end up at the 605. In that case, its best to exit north and swing around to back track down the 10.
But the delay was definitely worth every annoying mile. As ipsedixit observed, Hong Yei [Red Leaf] is brand new--open only two weeks. It is next to a Shabu Shabu place in a brand new two story structure on the corner of Broadway and San Gabriel. There is ample parking inside the building. For those who don't feel motivated to read this entire lengthy missive, the short verision is that Hong Yei was so tasty there isn't a snowballs chance of us ever trying any other restaurant in that mall.
Thanks to the inadvertant detour and our usual meandering, we had missed the lunch specials which stop at 3pm. That didn't slow us down in the least. After some advice from Tony but not a glance at Carl Chu, we ordered tomato Egg Flower soup [#17]; Twice cooked pork [#31], cumin lamb [#44], Mapo Fish [#65], Preserved vegetable with green bean [#89], potato with vinegar sauce [#93], Dan dan mien [#141] and Leak leaf & pork dumpling [[#151]. While we were perusing the menu, our waiter---Tony---came buy with a plate of house prepared peanuts [combination of sugar and pepper] and some tea.
Tony seemed a bit awed by our ordering--we were 3 adults and 2 pups--but gamely put everything in. Just as he walked away, i noticed the case by the back with all the cold appetisers. Tony immediately came over to help me identify everything in the case. We settled on a combination of the dried tofu in chili oil, the cucumber with garlic and the jellyfish.
By the time the appetisers arrived, the older pup was in danger of being killed. [that boy is just plain NASTY when hungry and by that time, his giant breakfast from Ricks was completely worn off]. We immediately began stuffing him with jellyfish and cucumber. Shortly after, the rest of the food began to arrive.
What can I say but YUM YUM YUM! Everything was delicious--the dan dan mien had an awesome amount of sichuan peppercorn, the twice cooked pork [recommended by Tony] tunred out to be the dish I'd had somewhere but didn't remember the name, the mapo fish was yummy, the cumin lamb had huge amounts of leeks and chilis all of which just exploded in your mouth., the dumplings were juicy and the skins nicely cooked [northern style slightly thick]. The green bean dish had those bean noodle knots and was just the right thing to soften the heat from some of the other dishes. If I had to pick a dish that I wouldn't order again, it would be the potatos--not exactly what I expected and I found myself taking 2ds of everything else and almost forgetting they were there.
And if that wasn't enough food, Tony brought us an an unexpected steamer of meat buns [#135]. Apparently, this was a reward for having ordered a slightly obscene amount of food......they were also excellent but since there were only 6 and 5 of us, the pups had to fight over the last dumpling.
By the end, there was very very little for Tony to box up---just a bit of the twice cooked pork, a spoonful of the lamb, a dab of the veggies, some fish. The plates of the soup, the dan dan, the dumplings [both types] the rice, the appetisers were all scraped clean.
I don't think they have liquor license yet but they were ready with the tea and the water. I think Tony is probably the person that ipsedixit mentioned who spoke really good English but had a different accent. Tony turns out to be from Tsing dow [as in the beer] and he has been in the US for a whole month. If only I could study Chinese in the States and then go to China for a month and speak equally good chinese......For the curious, Tony told us that Tsing dao has a lovely beer festival every year in the late summer but I suppose that discussion is for another board.
At the end of the meal, Tony bravely asked us how the heck we found out about the restaurant and we told him it was all the fault of Chowhound. Suffice to say that they were all quite perplexed.
All in all a steller meal, wiht very friendly staff, that almost makes us stop mourning the loss of Homestyle and all our other haunts that vanished over this past year. We will definitely be back---the menu has no less than FOUR recipes for frog and we were so busy ordering the other stuff that we didn't even try one.......
288 S. San Gabriel Blvd, ground floor, #103-104
San Gabriel, CA 91776.
open 11am to 10pm, 7 days a week.
Exit 10 freeway at San Gabriel and head towards the mountains. If you hit Las Tunas, you've gone too far.
And for the curious, the perfect dessert after such a feast is a trip to scoops [heliotrope off melrose, west of vermont, east of normandie ] Flavors of the day: black sesame, peach, chocolate peanut, chai, strawberry basil, jasmine lemon, green tea horchata, mixed cookie and the most amazing vanilla ever made.............
Jeebo: agreed. mapo tofu was terrible, as was spicy fried chicken: deep fried egg battered(chewy coating: shudder).
The cumin lamb was tasty: nice scallions. But it's a dish that's better prepared dry, a la Oriental Pearl, not oily as it is here.
Tony is extremely polite and helpful though.
So glad you enjoyed the place.
I am very curious about their Northern Chinese (Beijing-type) items on the menu, like the dumplings and the noodle dishes.
How were the dumplings? How do they compare to other places that you might have tried, such as notables like Luscious Dumplings, Mandarin Deli, Dumpling 10053, etc.?
Next time you're there try the beef intestines, but only if you like such things ... because they're fabulous.
Was Tony sort of a short(er), younger looking fellow, with a nicely trimmed crew cut?
The dumplings were very tasty. We only tried the one boiled kind and they brought back fond memories of our favorite dumpling place in Beijing [Chinese Dumpling off Wangfujing rumored to be history now...sigh]. Same sort of thickness/texture to the dough. Filling very flavorful. I wanted to try things like scallion pancakes but felt I shouldn't go above 8 dishes for party o' five. Next time, we will definitely try more of those, especially the jia jing noodle, the shredded pork with brown sauce beijing style and the scallion pancakes. We will certainly let you know and I'll remember about the beef intestines. I looked for the tendon you recommended but missed it on the menu though I found it on the take out one. We are certainly willing to try it and I'm sure the pups will like it---they have decidedly "chinese" taste buds.
As for Tony, that sounds like him. also present were a woman and a taller man who was pointed out to us by Tony as the owner. The owner was definitely older than tony.
we ate way too much food. And to think, in only 12 hours we'll be hitting NBC for dim sum with friends.................maybe I could go running?