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Sichuan Fortune House - Pleasant Hill New, Spicy and Authentic

I went to Banyan Tree for lunch and when I arrived I was surprised to find that Banyan Tree is now Sichuan Fortune. This is a new Sichuan restaurant that just opened up recently in Pleasant Hill. Inside the decor is very bare, they took down a lot of the Banyan Tree decor and repainted the place.

Since it was a little colder than usual, I decided to go with something spicy. I ordered the Water Boiled Beef. When the dish came it had a nice dollop of garlic and the beef was swimming in sichuan chili oil and peppers. From a scale of 1-10 I would give it a 7-8, it's above average good and very authentic, but I was hoping for more Sichuan pepper taste--it did have very good numbing effect though. Oh I also got free pickle with candy peanuts with sesame.

I took a to-go menu looking at the menu they offer a lot of Sichuan dishes you wouldn't find in regular restaurant. Here are a few sample (translating from Chinese):

Spicy beer with duck in claypot
Spicy General Zhangfei beef (not General Zhao's chicken by the way)
Catfish braised with roasted garlic
Hot and sour and spicy cold green pea jelly
Sea cucumber with braised pork shoulder

They also have the usual Sichuan flare:
Husband and wife beef
Beef tendon
Cumin beef or lamb
Sesame bread
etc.

I chit chated with the manager for about 5 min. and apparently the chef is also the owner of the restaurant. I wonder where the chef worked before. Manager also mentioned my Water Boiled beef was a very toned down (Spicy wise) version because of it's location in Pleasant Hill and clientele. I hope to try out a few more dishes in the next week weeks and I'll report back. If anyone wants to do a chowdown at the restaurant there I can talk to the manager to arrange something.

41 Woodsworth Ln.
Pleasant Hill, CA
(925) 686-9828

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  1. Maybe China Village? The beer/duck clay pot I first noticed there before seeing it anywhere else, and I have never seen the dish called General Zhang Fei beef anywhere else. The Zhang Fei beef at China Village is a v. spicy stir fry of braised, chopped beef brisket, pressed tofu and onions with ample Sichuan peppercorn.

    1 Reply
    1. re: twocents

      Yep, it is confirmed. The chef left China Village and opened up his own place here.

    2. Link

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      Sichuan Fortune House
      41 Woodsworth Ln, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

      1. I happened onto Sichuan Fortune House while looking for parking in downtown Pleasant Hill. That's when I noticed that there was a new restaurant in town. I had the XO Sauce Lamb and some steamed rice, just grabbing some take-out.

        I've had a lot of chinese food in my time, and this was absolutely amazing. Far better than 3 Brothers (which was my favorite but which has also fallen in recent years) and vastly better than any of the other local places I've tried.

        The flavors were rich and quite spicy, as one expects from Sichuan food, and I for one will be going back again and again. The complimentary pickle and candy peanuts while the waiter took me on a culinary tour of Sichuan province was also a delight.

        I can highly recommend the XO Sauce Lamb or Beef, but I will have to wait a few more visits for a more serious review.

        1. Finally, a sichuan restaurant closer to my home than China Village. Hopefully it will turn out to be good, considering it has roots with CV. How was the menu layed out?

          2 Replies
          1. re: SamuelA.L.

            The menu almost replicate that of CV. Good English translation, and the server or manager can help you with menu selection. My only gripe and I've mentioned it to the chef is that it's a bit salty at times. Other than that, if you're looking for spicy authentic Chinese food in tri-valley area this is it.

            1. re: theSauce

              I'm an Atlanta Hound who was visiting my Chinese in-laws in Walnut Creek last week. Visited the day after Christmas, and was pleasantly surprised. Excellent service, and the owner and waitstaff seemed genuinely willing to please. Crowd was about 50/50 Chinese and non-Chinese.

              This wasn't world-class Sichuan cuisine (and I've been to Chengdu), but the food was well-prepared with quality ingredients, and the menu boasted some seriously authentic dishes. I'm the real hot-and-numbing addict in the family, so I was more underwhelmed than my dining companions, whose palates are from Harbin and Shanghai, by way of Taibei.

              The biggest hit was the Dandan noodles (担担面), which were authentically spiked with red chili, but could have benefited from a little more Sichuan peppercorn to give it that numbing mouth-feel. My mother-in-law favored the tea-smoked duck sauteed with roast chili (香辣樟茶鸭), which was an intriguing mixture of flavors (rich, fatty, smoky, white-hot). We all thought the cumin lamb was well-seasoned with jalapenos and small dried red chilies. The only real disappointment was the eggplant pancake with spicy garlic sauce (鱼香茄饼), which were battered and deep-fried slices of eggplant, served with brown sauce.

              We all agreed that China Village was better, but if you're on the other end of the Caldecott Tunnel, this is a decent alternative.

          2. Best chinese place in Pleasant Hill imho. Food is great tasting and not too SALTY! Why do so many restaurants make their dishes so salty? Maybe to hide the taste of crappy ingredients? Can't ask for better hospitality either. When I get take out, they bring me peanuts/kimchi and tea while waiting. Location is not the best.. def. a hidden gem.

            1. My wife and I went last night. This is our new favorite chinese restaurant in the tri valley. Service was wonderful and the manager engaged us in conversation several times during the meal to see how it was going.

              We had the tea smoked duck, cabbage and pork clay pot, and the puffy bread with five meats. All excellent. Can't wait to go back and try other items on the menu.

              1. We went for the first time on Saturday night and loved it.

                We had Water-Boiled Fish, Cheng Du Spicy Prawns, Red Oil Won Tons, and Dan Dan Noodles. All were good. The Water-Boiled Fish had a fabulous layer of minced chilis and garlic on top, and is in my opinion better than China Village's in terms of complexity of flavor. The Dan Dan Noodles can't compare with what you get in Sichuan, but is one of the best versions in the Bay Area. Their dishes are in general a little less oily and more authentic than the run-of-the-mill Sichuan place in the Bay Area - food-wise it is at least on par with, if not slightly better than China Village, IMHO. We can't wait to go back and try their Ma Po Tofu.

                At peak time on Saturday night, the restaurant was two-thirds full, not bad but could be better. A few of the tables were having hot pots - they have a special hot pot ingredients menu. We really want them to do well in terms of business - the food is certainly real, but the location is hard for real ethnic cuisine!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Maple

                  Finally tried this little gem and I am also concerned about their survival. The place was half empty on a Saturday night. The food was excellent, the service warm, friendly, helpful and efficient. I can not wait to go back and work my way through the menu. Saddens me to think that people were waiting 2hrs to get into PF Chang's in Walnut Creek for some mediocre food, while this pleasant place in Pleasant Hill was nearly empty. Hmmmm, maybe this does say something about the dining scene or lack of in Coco county.

                2. I too went there expecting to find Banyon Tree, I left disappointed feeling it was just another generic Chinese place. I went back because of Yelper's, and personal recommendations. This food was amazing. Nothing like I have ever tasted before. I thought I didn't like Schezwan, but I guess I never had it made well. I normally prefer southern Chinese food, Hunan, Cantonese, Hong Kong, but this was full of flavor, spices and variety. Everything tasted like it was made fresh when you ordered it (not sitting in a warmer for hours). The staff was very friendly, I didn't feel like and "outsider". Funny, someone had just recommended me to China Villiage about 3 months ago, and now I find that the chef left and opend this place, small world.

                  I do miss the Banyan Tree thou, totally different cuisine and they are nice people.

                  1. A friend and I gave Sichuan Fortune House a try in March. We liked it, and he went back with another group of friends right away to introduce them to the place.

                    My favorite dish was the dan dan mian, and I agree that it's done better here than at China Village. On a Saturday night, it was quite busy and some of the other dishes were slightly off. The manager came by to ask how we liked our food, and when I pointed out the problem with our spicy cabbage, he whisked it off our table and had the kitchen do it over even though we protested that we were too full to eat any more.

                    I thought the water boiled beef was quite good too. Beef was smooth and tender, and as you can see in the photo below, the bowl had an extra topping of minced garlic, scallions, and crushed pepper on top.

                    Water boiled beef -
                    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3044/2...

                    The stir-fried kidneys were just ok, though my friend liked them much more than I did. I felt they were just slightly overcooked, whereas he prefers his firmer in texture.

                    Stir-fried kidneys -
                    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3275/2...

                    We also tried husband and wife combination, fish flavored eggplant, and cucumbers in garlic sauce. My sense is that the kitchen is best at the style of dishes that have a wallop of chilis, peppercorns, garlic and salt. The things that rely on finesse and a judged touch might not be the things to order here.

                      1. re: kc72

                        Long ago I am 90% certain that this location was opened by a couple who had a place named Tien Tu. Growing up it was my first exposure to truly sublime Chinese food, the Chef owner (Andy) made a special Scallion buckwheat pancake appetizer that to this day I have had nothing like. I have tried many a Scallion pancake since them only to be disappointed time and time again.

                        I will have to go try this place.

                        1. re: Brentley

                          Per the review in the Chron this week, owner Allen Shi came to the US in 1999 and worked at Panda Express before opening his own place.

                          http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Allen Shi was also a manager at Shanghai Gourmet in Walnut Creek when it was at the top of its game. He does a good job FOH.

                        2. re: kc72

                          Unfortunately that review is too typical of ill-informed restaurant reviewers who don't know squat about regional Chinese food. Total waste of time.