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Feb 23, 2008 04:25 PM

Any good Sichuan and Yunnan in OC??

I'm an OC native, and haven't yet found a great spicy chinese place. Namely Sichuan or Yunnan. Ever since I went to San Francisco on vacation and tried Z&Y, I am spoiled! It was the best Sichuan and Yunnan I've had yet. I'm a true chili head, so any recommendations on spicy are welcome as well.

When I say spicy, I mean a place that makes spicy food from the ground up, not just throwing more chilies on the fire. For each increase in heat, you need to increase other flavors as well to compensate. Unfortunately, most restaurants don't do this, simply giving me more chili sauce or oil. Arggghhh!

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  1. I think you have to come up into the San Gabriel Valley to get Sichuan or Yunnan food. Tri Village in Irvine might have a few items, but that's more of a Shanghai place.

    1. If you like to venture north to Monterey Park in LA county, you can enjoy Yunnan Garden, a fantastic place crowded by Chinese folks. Their address is 301 N. Garfield Ave, Monterey Park.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sunnyla

        Depending on what part of Orange County you're in, their new Hacienda Heights branch might be more convenient. 1229 S. Hacienda Bl.

      2. Gotta go to LA County. There's Chung King restaurant (there are three -- Monterey Park, San Gabriel and Hacienda Heights). If you go to the Hacienda Heights one make sure to ask for the Sichuan menu, not the "Mr. Swiss" Americanised-glop nonsense.

        1. Really, nothing in OC? Come on, arent there other chili heads in OC? ;)

          9 Replies
          1. re: Sandwalker

            No, it's not a matter of being a fan of spicy food. Rather it's a functional demographic of the local Chinese communities, and there aren't enough non-Cantonese or Shanghainese eaters in Orange County. Same reason why most of the Chinese food in Los Angeles Chinatown is Hong Kong/Cantonese style and any request for spicier Chinese food there would likewise go unheeded. Besides Tri Village, Chef Chen, in the shopping center at Walnut and Jeffrey in Irvine, also has some spicier dishes though it is a Shanghai style restaurant.

            1. re: Sandwalker

              I'm still learning the differences between different Chinese cuisines, but 2 of the better Chinese restaurants in OC label themselves as Sichuan cuisine, Wei's and Mandarin, both in Fountain Valley. I've enjoy meals at both places.

              Another one, not as good but still serviceable, is Golden Dragon in Costa Mesa.

              How authentic these are, I'm not sure, as I grew up on mostly Cantonese food.

              Not sure if I've been to or tried Yunnan cuisine. Didn't really pay attention to details that much until the last few years. Don't think I've been to one yet in OC.

              Golden Dragon Restaurant
              2023 Harbor Blvd Ste A, Costa Mesa, CA 92627

              Mandarin Restaurant
              18420 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

              Wei's Chinese Restaurant
              17046 Magnolia St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708

              1. re: Wonginator

                I like Mandarin, but I think they are more Shanghainese.

                1. re: PeterL

                  I've always thought of Wei's as a Shanghai place, too. Probably like Tri Village and Chef Chen, which adds a few Sichuan specialties to the menu since they're dealing with a primarily non-Cantonese customer base. I'd be shocked if there were any Yunnan food in O.C. I think there's something like 3 or 4 Yunnan restaurants in the entire U.S.

                  1. re: Chandavkl

                    On Wei's menu, they state that they specialize in Sichuan cuisine. Honestly, I haven't eaten enough of it to really be able to tell by looking at or tasting the dishes.

                    I can't remember if Mandarin's menu stated what type of cuisine they have, but it seemed similar to both Wei's and Golden Dragon. On Golden Dragon's menu also, they state that their cuisine is Sichuan.

                    I haven't really found a Chinese restaurant in OC stating that their cuisine is Shanghainese, like Mei Long Village or Lake Spring Shanghai in SGV. I've also been to Giang Nan in Monterey Park, and Mandarin doesn't really seem similar to them.

                    Does Mandarin have the "pork pump" (pork rump) on the menu? That seems to be a signature Shanghai-style dish.

                    Found a press release of Tri-Village from the Irvine Company, advertising them as having cuisines from several regions, "Szechwan, Mandarin, Shanghai, Taiwan and Haka".

                    1. re: Wonginator

                      I think Wei's is a Sichuan restaurant in the sense of the faux Szechwan style restaurants that sprang up in the 1970s and 1980s and expanded the horizons of Americanized Chinese food. I just dug up their take out menu from 20 years ago, in which they did describe themselves as being a "Szechwan Cuisine" restaurant, with a menu composed of kung pao chicken, ma po tofu, mu shu pork and similar items. However, they also had a supplemental Chinese menu with a number of non-Cantonese items, but certainly not the type of Sichuan food you see at places like Chung King. Rather, they served stuff like deep fried shrimp balls, lotus leaf spare ribs, minced scallop, and whole fish on a bed of noodles. I think these are still the types of authentic fare they serve to this day.

                      1. re: Wonginator

                        Hey Wonginator,

                        I agree with what Chandavkl's saying. Having grown up with a fair share of Sichuan cuisine, Mandarin and Wei's in the OC are definitely *not* Sichaun by the authentic sense. :)

                        Mandarin and Wei's both are what I and my OC Chowhound group consider to be "general Chinese food," serving popular standard Chinese favorites (across multiple provinces) like "Salt & Pepper Pork Chop" "Fish with Garlic Sauce" etc.

                        So, sadly, OC still doesn't have an authentic Sichuan or Yunnan restaurant yet.

                        1. re: exilekiss

                          You guys are probably right about Wei's and Mandarin. I can't really say for sure if I've ever eaten authentic Sichuan, as I didn't grow up eating it, just going by what restaurants advertise their cuisine as in their menus.

                2. re: Sandwalker

                  I'm a big time chili head and if you like Spicy and you like Thai go to Royal Thai Orchid in Orange (1315 N. Tustin. Orange). It's a husband and wife team from Bankok and if you ask for 5 alarm the taste sensation in your mouth will bring you back again and again. If you want to impress them like I do, ask for a side of Thai Bird chilis (fresh on the stem) and eat them with your food. When you do this they will treat you like your a brother. I'm a Cauasian so the first time I asked for the chilis they all crowded around and watched me eat them in dismay.