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I can't stop eating fried lamb rib

Thi N. Jun 10, 2008 10:49 AM

I haven't posted on any new finds in San Gabriel in a while, because there haven't been, because haven't been eating anything except Hunan Seafood Restaurant, over and over and over again.

I now have a way to express my affection for this place, and the Hunan style.

You know how Thai food is a balance of sweet, spicy, sour, salty? The salty flavor's supposed to match the spicy flavor, etc. etc.? Hunan has added "smokey" and "funky" as flavors to balance. Witness the fried lamb rib, which is the most outrageous degree of crunch, fermenty smoke, Sichuan-y numb-tingly, and salty. When I'm depressed, I go here, I eat this dish, and I feel the hand of some massive Hunanese god part the heavens, reach through my gullet, and grab me in my privates and shake me until I'm confused and happy.

There are many other great dishes here, but the one I can't stop ordering is the fried lamb rib.

Also: anything that involves Hunanese ham, which is actually huge hunks of deeply smoked pork belly.

Also: there are two cold chicken dishes on the Hunanese appetizer menu. Both are ludicrously good. One is cold, and comes swimming in a pool cold red oil sauce, and the other other is cold, and served with a bit of gingery sauce on the side. I think the gingery sauced one is the first one on the menu, and slightly more expensive? Both are fantastic - the intense taste of purified chicken. Cold chicken is the sushi of the Chinese - proof of highest quality and perfection of humble mind of cook. This is that, but spicy.

Oh yeah.

-thi

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  1. Professor Salt RE: Thi N. Jun 10, 2008 10:58 AM

    Good to see you posting again, Thi. Sounds like I'll have to go get violated by your Hunanese god soon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Professor Salt
      Thi N. RE: Professor Salt Jun 11, 2008 07:47 AM

      I'll like to see you have your first.

      I just remembered another great thing there: stir fried cabbage. It has numb tingly and fermented bean paste, and the loveliest tangy sour I can think of, over the sweet of the cabbage.

      -thi

    2. j
      jenn RE: Thi N. Jun 24, 2008 05:10 PM

      I second the welcome back of the professor.

      So where exactly is this place? i love Hunan food and its just not available in our current local. We've moved from LA but are traipsing down in June for a week to do nothing but visit friends and eat in SGV and eat in SGV and. . . .this sounds like a most excellent place to put on the list.....

      1. j
        JMan604 RE: Thi N. Jun 25, 2008 08:02 AM

        Can I get the address of this godly restaurant?

        11 Replies
        1. re: JMan604
          s
          sel RE: JMan604 Jun 25, 2008 08:25 AM

          And Google says...........

          http://www.chow.com/places/16668

          1. re: sel
            Thi N. RE: sel Jun 27, 2008 12:28 AM

            Jah - danke - that's the place.

            1. re: Thi N.
              TonyC RE: Thi N. Jun 27, 2008 11:52 AM

              I'd like to suggest Szechuan Best (referred to by Erik M's post here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/529261) for fried lamb ribs as well...

              not sure how "Hunanese" this dish actually is, but i'd like someone to benchmark SZ Best's version...

              Thanks!

              1. re: TonyC
                Thi N. RE: TonyC Oct 21, 2008 04:33 PM

                Szechuan Best is *goood* - I haven't had the lamb rib there yet, but I had the very similar Chon Quing fried chicken cubes.

                In my mind, Hunan and Sichuan are sister cuisines. Strange as it is, Sichuan is the purer and cleaner of the two - you wouldn't believe it, until you've had stuff at Hunan Seafood. Hunan has more emphasis on smokey/funky/fermenty flavors. But they're very close.

                1. re: Thi N.
                  TonyC RE: Thi N. Oct 21, 2008 04:51 PM

                  Annnnnnd Szechuan Best is gone as of last nite.

                  "Under Renovations". Business has been slow, even being written up by J Gold couldn't save this place.

                  I haven't done Hunan Seafood, but I have had many meals at other 2 proper Hunan joints in SGV. Hunan is the new Szechuan. IMO, Szechuan is definitely not purer, since it also uses pickled vegetables and there's ubiquitous use of prickly ash/sichuan peppercon. That's 2 closing of SZ resto's in about a month.

                  1. re: TonyC
                    Thi N. RE: TonyC Oct 21, 2008 05:00 PM

                    Relative scale of purity. Both use major amounts of sichuan peppercorn and pickled vegetables - Hunan just really pushes the smokey/funky/fermenty flavors a little harder.

                    What are the other Hunan joints?

                    What else closed? Chung King I still like, Oriental Pearl is gone, I loved Szechuan Best - this is sad news. There's the Mongolian/Sichuan place with good lamb/leek stuff - can't remember the name, but we Digested it a while back. Good spicy sweet peanut appetizers.

                    1. re: Thi N.
                      k
                      kevin RE: Thi N. Oct 22, 2008 11:24 AM

                      there was place jgold reviewed that had lamb ribs, anyone know what it is? if i'm not mistaken it arrived on skewers and is supposedly laced with copious amounts of cumin, char, and salt.

                      1. re: kevin
                        Thi N. RE: kevin Oct 28, 2008 09:49 AM

                        I don't know if this is the one J Gold reviewed, but 101 Noodle House has lamb (non-rib) cumin skewers, charred, and they're freaking great.

                        1. re: Thi N.
                          f
                          fkingford RE: Thi N. Oct 30, 2008 02:47 PM

                          They used to. They've stopped serving "lamb sticks," if that's what you're referring to.

                    2. re: TonyC
                      Will Owen RE: TonyC Oct 22, 2008 10:59 AM

                      AAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!! That's the second time I've gone to a restaurant, fallen instantly in love, and had it up and die on me! I was just looking over the paper menu I'd brought home from there, plotting my return meal, and kablooey! It's awfully hard not to take these things personally...

                      1. re: Will Owen
                        k
                        kevin RE: Will Owen Oct 22, 2008 11:24 AM

                        i still mourn the loss of more than a few restaurants.

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