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May 6, 2002 03:08 PM

Best Szechuan in Monterey Park

  • c

On Saturday evening I was part of a large group treated to dinner at "Best Szechuan" or "Jiawei Chuancai" in Monterey Park at 230 N. Garfield Avenue.

My experience convinced me that the best food in LA, Chinese or otherwise, can be found in unassuming mini-mall restaurants. And unassuming this place was! No frills decor. The carpet was somewhat threadbare and it had a B in restaurant sanitation.

But the food was excellent. I don't eat meat so can't comment first hand on the quality. Fellow diners however raved over the pig feet and chicken soup, the various chicken dishes and the pigs ear cold dishes.

I "settled" for the vegetables and a few bites of "dousu yu" or steamed fish with spicy beancurd sauce - fresh and well-prepared. .

MUSHROOMS (not spicy). These were tender and melt-in-your mouth. Not too salty and with a nice sauce.

"SIGUA" or "dishcloth gourd" was similarly tender and very fresh. We ate it simply, fried with garlic and a delicate sauce. It was also served with a few pieces of bamboo innards, porous delicate strips which soaked up the sauce nicely.

FRIED SPICY GREEN PEPPERS - delicious! I can't wait to go back and try more of their vegetarian dishes.

I have spent quite a bit of time in China and this food is some of the best and most authentic I've had this side of the Pacific. For those of you are are a little put off at pig feet and chicken attached to the bone, stick with the vegetables, fish, gongbao jiding (chicken with hot pepper and peanuts), and tofu. I guarantee you will go home happy.

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  1. I totally agree with Cattus about the unassuming mini-mall/great food phenomenon in Los Angeles. Has there been a thread about this yet?

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Chief
      Richard Gould-Saltman

      The "great food in a mini-mall" actually seems to be a recurring theme, in part a function of the totally absurd commercial real estate rates in "swanky" locations. Great Chinese food is shoe-horned into almost any kind of space in Alhambra/Monterey Park; I noted, a copule of weeks ago, that in lovely suburban Fountain Valley OC, there is a mini-mall with TWO good Vietnamese places. Then, of course, there is Saito's Sushi, in one of the world's UGLIEST mini-malls... (I think the Vice squad, or the Health Dept., or someone, finally closed the hotel at the other end of the block...)


    2. I'm trying to identify the restaurant you're referring to. There's a place called Best Szechuan (which is quite good), also an unassuming place in a mini-mall, at 534 E Valley Blvd in San Gabriel (phone 626 927 9618). Looking around on the Web, the only place I've identified at 230 N. Garfield Avenue is called Rong Hwa, mentioned in a Gold piece from 2000 whose URL I've attached. Does the place you have in mind say Best Szechuan outside? It does sound promising in any case.


      3 Replies
      1. re: Stan

        Best Szechuan (aka Jia Wei Chuan Cai) opened a second restaurant in the mall at 230 N. Garfield, toward the back. Much prettier than the original restaurant. Very close to Hua Garden.

        1. re: Samo

          Great, thanks. I went to the new Best Szechuan on Garfield for lunch today. That intersection of Garvey and Garfield is quite the center for Szechuan food! I have to say, though, that my experience at Chung King (a few blocks south) and Hua's Garden (across the street) was better. At the new Best Szechuan I had the "fresh fish with braised sauce". It was labeled with a "hot and spicy" symbol, but it wasn't. It didn't have a single red pepper in it, and maybe a couple of ground red peppers worth of chilis in total. It was okay, but it was bland. I had a similar dish at the original Best Szechuan, and it curled my nose hairs quite well. Now, I am no expert on Szechuan food, not at all, but I did feel like I was being treated like a foreigner. (At least they didn't ask me if I wanted a fork, which really gets my goat.) The people were nice enough and the decor was indeed a little more pleasant than in the original branch, but I found the pumps in the fish tanks a little obnoxious. I'll certainly try it again at some point, but I'll try some others first.

        2. re: Stan

          Best Szechwan replaced Rong Hwa at 230 N. Garfield about six months ago.