ISO - Best Hot & Sour Soup?
A long time ago I had the great fortune of eating at a tiny, family run Chinese restaurant on upper Broadway in NYC called Pomegranate Garden. The family had recently emigrated from China - it was run by an eldely man and wife, their son and daughter in law. The son was an electrical engineer and the restaurant was open only for a couple of years while the son learned enough english to find engineering employment. But God, the old woman could cook! Her hot and sour soup was astonishing - both strong and delicate with a lightness and separation of flavors that distinctly differentiated the hot from the sour.
In almost every instance since then, the soup and its flavors have appeared blended and indistinct. Sometimes it's good, occasionally exceptional, but almost never the distinctly married flavors of both hot and sour. Does anyone out there know what I'm talking about, and where such sublimely brilliant soup may be found?
I've always (or at least for 25 years or so) thought highly of the H&S at Chinese Friends, also, curiously enough, on upper Broadway in LA (east side of street). Don't know if it's the grail you're looking for, but it's pretty darn good, as is their "house special shrimp", of which the "slippery shrimp" at a number of places is a weak copy. . . .
I've long been a fan of a good hot & sour soup. The two best I've found are Bamboo on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks and Yang Chow in Chinatown. Neither soup is life changing but both are very solid. With this said I don't really get out to the SGV much.
A&W Seafood in Northridge (on Reseda at Prairie) has an excellent hot and sour soup. Usually, I have to ask for extra vinegar or chili paste to get the mix of hot to sour right, but that was not the case with A&W's. You can order it with several variations of seafood. It is the best I've had in recent years.
Since you like subtlety and distinct flavors, you might like the one at Din Tai Fung in Arcadia. It's a little too subtle for my taste, because I prefer a H&S soup that's torrid with heat of white pepper, awash with a generous dose of black vinegar, and anchored with a rich broth made with pork, chicken, and a hotel pan's worth of leftover random protein scraps that fell into the stockpot that day.
For a version like that, hie thee to Seafood Cove in Garden Grove.
Din Tai Fung Restaurant
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
8547 Westminster Ave, Garden Grove, CA 92844