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Jun 10, 2008 10:49 AM

I can't stop eating fried lamb rib

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.


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  1. 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

      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.


    2. 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. Can I get the address of this godly restaurant?

        11 Replies
          1. re: sel

            Jah - danke - that's the place.

            1. re: Thi N.

              I'd like to suggest Szechuan Best (referred to by Erik M's post here: 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...


              1. re: TonyC

                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.

                  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

                    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.

                      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

                        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.

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

                    2. re: TonyC

                      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

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