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Is there better szechuan in LA than Chung KIng in San Gabriel?

echoparkdirt Oct 6, 2010 11:50 AM

Because i went twice this weekend. two lunches in a row. i was in the neighborhood. saturday, i just had the beef with zi ran pepper. it was wonderful. sunday, i had friend chicken cubes, which were great, and the beef with zi ran pepper, which was INEDIBLE. just terrible. an insult. and never happened before.

it raised all sorts of doubt about Chung King. Which is one of my great pleasures in life. Is it just different chefs? Is the whole place in decline? Also, how can i bring people there if they create occasional crap?

This has been bugging me for a year. do we have a consensus about a better szechuan place in the SGV?

-----
Chung King Restaurant
1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

  1. b
    bulavinaka May 14, 2011 04:36 PM

    We had the dan dan mian and spicy lamb chops at Chung King today. While I still prefer Lucky Noodle King's ddm for more Sichuan peppercorn the peanut sauce style, my wife preferred Chung King's, being more subtle and balanced in flavor but packing more heat. We both agreed on the spicy lamb chops - wonderfully seasoned and plenty of chile heat.

    -----
    Chung King Restaurant
    1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

    Lucky Noodle King
    534 E Valley Blvd #10, San Gabriel, CA 91776

    1. echoparkdirt Mar 6, 2011 02:05 PM

      I went to New Chongqing on San Gabriel yesterday.

      The Kung Pao Chicken was fantastic, and much better than Chung King's version, which is getting gloopier and more sugary by the week.

      The Dan Dan Noodles were exquisite. A light, delicate, completely wonderful take on the dish. Chung Kings version of these are extremely mediocre.

      The "Fried Chicken Cubes" were great, but Chung King has served up more transcendent versions at times. I think New CQ is a little lighter on the "szechuan peppercorn" as well.

      No cold appetizers was a disappointment.

      My non-Chowhound eating partner, against my explicit wishes, got the "mustard pork noodles" which was soupy and uninteresting.

      All in all, a great lunch and I just may head there over CK for my szechuan fix. I am always open to more suggestions tho...

      -----
      New Chong Qing
      120 N San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91775

      12 Replies
      1. re: echoparkdirt
        cant talk...eating Mar 6, 2011 07:58 PM

        Have you tried Yunnan 168 on San Gabriel yet? It's worth a visit.

        Funny, I ordered the pork noodles at New Chongquing under exact circumstances and agree.

        Just fyi, Chan's Paris N in Arcadia does a really outstanding version of the chicken cubes. I think they call them something like "spicy chicken chunks" or something. It's loaded with dried red chilis which you have to sort of pick around, but it's seriously good. It's not a Szechuan place, just fyi.

        -----
        Yunnan 168
        1530 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

        1. re: cant talk...eating
          ipsedixit Mar 7, 2011 05:12 AM

          Yunnan 168, is good, but not Sichuan.

          -----
          Yunnan 168
          1530 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

          1. re: ipsedixit
            cant talk...eating Mar 9, 2011 10:39 AM

            Aside from the rice noodles at Yunnan 168, are there major differences in things like meat and veggie dishes btwn Yunnan-ese and Sichuan? Seems like their menus are awfully similar, at least these SGV places we're talking about.

            -----
            Yunnan 168
            1530 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

            1. re: cant talk...eating
              w
              will47 Mar 9, 2011 11:07 AM

              It's more that Yunnan cuisine isn't that famous, so many of the Yunnan places also serve dishes from bordering Sichuan. The two cuisines are fairly different, though. Yunnan 168 and Yunchuan Garden / Yunnan Garden all serve Sichuan dishes alongside Yunnan ones.

              -----
              Yunnan Garden
              545 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

              Yunnan 168
              1530 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

              1. re: cant talk...eating
                s
                sushigirlie Apr 24, 2011 09:58 PM

                FWIW, when I traveled in China, I didn't perceive a connection between the food in Yunnan and the food in Sichuan. I have been surprised to see that restaurants with "Yunnan" in the name serve food that I associate with Sichuan.

                1. re: sushigirlie
                  raytamsgv Apr 25, 2011 11:10 AM

                  It's all marketing. I've been to a number of restaurants where they specialize in one regional cuisine but serve dishes from other regions. I asked the owners/managers why they did this. Everyone had the same answer: a number of their customers keep on asking for them.

                  1. re: raytamsgv
                    b
                    bulavinaka Apr 25, 2011 06:22 PM

                    The classic for me is the xiao long bao at the dim sum houses...

          2. re: echoparkdirt
            j
            JThur01 Mar 7, 2011 11:48 AM

            Glad you enjoyed it echoparkdirt. Funny, I was telling myself I need to return to NCQ just before I read your post.

            We have ipsedixit to thank for recommending the Kung Pao Chicken. Normally, that's something I'd steer clear of, but I was quite impressed with it.

            I actually like the chicken cubes better at Shu Feng (since shuttered in San Gabriel, but still in Rowland Heights). NCQ's were very good, but kind of salty to me.

            To me, the noodles themselves are quite good at NCQ. With those noodles as a base, they can only get better with the toppings and additions.

            1. re: echoparkdirt
              echoparkdirt Apr 24, 2011 04:54 PM

              Update on New Chong Qing:

              Went there with a couple friends for lunch. Dan Dan Noodles and Fried Chicken Cubes were wonderful.

              However, bad news to report. I'm going to declare "Echoparkdirt's Law" -- the longer a Chinese restaurant serves Kung Pao Chicken, the more brown sugary it will become.

              The Kung Pao Chicken, which previously was eaten immediately, went unfinished. Much too sugary, with that tell-tale burnt brown sugar smell. Not good. The "Stir Fried Lamb" was bland and uninteresting, and went almost uneaten.

              Made me want to give Chung King another try.

              -----
              Chung King Restaurant
              1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

              New Chong Qing
              120 N San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91775

              1. re: echoparkdirt
                ipsedixit Apr 24, 2011 04:57 PM

                Did you tell them?

                They would've taken it back, no questions asked.

                I've done this before at NCQ when our beef dish came with too much gristle, and the fried chicken was cold.

                1. re: ipsedixit
                  echoparkdirt Apr 25, 2011 11:41 AM

                  Nope, didn't ask it to be taken back. Next time I will. But I will check out Chung King again. Very concerning!

                  -----
                  Chung King Restaurant
                  1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                2. re: echoparkdirt
                  echoparkdirt Jul 9, 2011 07:53 PM

                  Dismal experience at new Chongqing today.

                  Kung Pao chicken was gloopy and sugary after I specifically asked otherwise

                  Spicy chicken cubes were, eh, tasted like fish. Both me and my friend thought it was fish. We were assured it was chicken, but we kept on tasting fish. We then investigated by examining the insides, but we couldn't prove anything -- the bits of the meat were so small and so surrounded by batter, we could not confirm our suspicions. Anyway, this spicy chicken/fish cube dish was mediocre. Very few sichuan peppercorns if any

                  Dan Dan noodles were much worse than last time, nothing special

                  Both me and my friend, who has joined me on most of my trips there, vowed to never return!

                  Sad.

                  -----
                  New Chong Qing
                  120 N San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91775

              2. echoparkdirt Dec 25, 2010 10:08 AM

                I heard Shufeng Garden in SG is closed now....

                15 Replies
                1. re: echoparkdirt
                  j
                  JThur01 Dec 25, 2010 10:14 AM

                  Sadly, this is true. December 19th was their last day. Rowland Heights location still open.

                  1. re: JThur01
                    ipsedixit Dec 25, 2010 10:17 AM

                    If people are not careful (and most aren't), in about 10 years west SGV will become the Chinatown of today -- deserted and a shell of its former self; while east SGV will become what west SGV is and was in the late 1990s/2000s -- the new epicenter of Chinese food and commerce.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      echoparkdirt Dec 25, 2010 10:24 AM

                      we should try to save some great ones. im still missing that islamic chinese place at the Great Mall of China. Thinking of going to Omar's or JTYH today...

                      -----
                      JTYH Restaurant
                      9425 Valley Blvd, Rosemead, CA 91770

                      1. re: echoparkdirt
                        k
                        kevin Dec 26, 2010 06:04 PM

                        Omar's is incredible. What was the name of the Islamic Chinese place in the Great Mall of China? And there still any good restaurants in that Mall? And lastly where is it located?

                        thanks.

                        1. re: kevin
                          s
                          sel Dec 26, 2010 07:21 PM

                          Tung Lai Shun is the Islamic Chinese that closed.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/338077

                          1. re: sel
                            k
                            kevin Dec 26, 2010 08:17 PM

                            That's eight.

                            But check out Omars. The best restaurant i've had the pleasure of visiting in the past few months.

                            1. re: sel
                              c
                              carter Dec 28, 2010 03:55 PM

                              Sure hope China Islamic @ 7727 Garvey Avenue in Rosemead is still open.
                              Very good Islamic Chinese food.

                              -----
                              China Islamic Restaurant
                              7727 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA 91770

                            2. re: kevin
                              c
                              Chandavkl Dec 28, 2010 08:58 AM

                              That's the shopping center at 140 W. Valley Blvd. in San Gabriel (as opposed to the same address in Alhambra). Busiest restaurant there is the New Capital Seafood on the 4th floor, but their main selling point is their economical dim sum and dinner dishes. (Not to say the food isn't decent--it's probably the best value around, but it's not gourmet food.) Other noteworthy restaurants there include Dandan Guilin Rice Noodle restaurant, and what is perhaps the only remaining branch of Ay Chung Rice Noodle in California.

                              -----
                              Ay Chung Rice Noodle
                              1015 Nogales St, Rowland Heights, CA

                              New Capital
                              8823 Garvey Ave, Rosemead, CA

                        2. re: JThur01
                          j
                          JThur01 Dec 28, 2010 08:40 AM

                          I'm surprised, and somewhat disappointed, that no one here mentioned or noticed this at LA Weekly's Squid Ink blog: http://bit.ly/e7bBV4

                          1. re: JThur01
                            Mr Taster Dec 28, 2010 09:01 AM

                            The death of the San Gabriel Square Shufeng Garden was noted... there's at least one thread about it already.

                            Edit: Hm ok, I guess this was the thread which noted the closure :) Why are you disappointed that nobody specifically mentioned the Squid Ink blog?

                            Mr Taster

                            1. re: Mr Taster
                              ipsedixit Dec 28, 2010 09:25 AM

                              The closing of the San Gabriel Shufeng Garden is just one of the many first drops in the bucket of the diaspora of the West SGV. Everyone is moving points eastward to East SGV (e.g. Rowland Heights, Industry, etc.)

                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                raytamsgv Dec 28, 2010 01:35 PM

                                I'm of the opinion that a lot of this is because of the Great Recession. There are far too many restaurants for the local Chinese population to support, and the restaurants haven't expanded their clientele enough to include more non-Chinese patrons.

                                In the old days, many of my relatives and family friends wanted to leave Chinatown because they wanted better homes and better schools. The western SGV fit the bill. Although I'm sure the culinary center of the SGV will start shifting east, I'm not entirely convinced it will move to the east SGV mainly because there are so many good school districts in the west SGV.

                              2. re: Mr Taster
                                echoparkdirt Dec 28, 2010 11:03 AM

                                because JThur01 may indeed by the writer Jim Thurman from squid ink!

                                1. re: echoparkdirt
                                  Mr Taster Dec 28, 2010 11:10 AM

                                  Whoops, missed that :) Sorry JThur01.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: echoparkdirt
                                    j
                                    JThur01 Dec 28, 2010 03:01 PM

                                    ;-) Writer?...you're too kind. I weighed whether I should even mention it, because I didn't want to come off as a shameless self-promoter. Too late, I guess.

                                    But, echoparkdirt is correct about that being the reason I'm somewhat disappointed.

                          2. j
                            JThur01 Oct 6, 2010 10:21 PM

                            New Chonqing is very good, but my favorite is Shu Feng Yuan in the Focus Plaza. And I like Yunchuan Garden (on Garfield) over Yunnan Garden (on Las Tunas). For some reason, Yunchuan is always higher on the heat index.

                            I rank all three above Chung King, which is..ok.

                            -----
                            Yunnan Garden
                            545 W Las Tunas Dr, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: JThur01
                              Mr Taster Oct 6, 2010 10:31 PM

                              We also had an ok but disappointing meal at chung king sg. Double disappointment because a friend from Phoenix came out and this was his first taste of ma la (though I don't know if it counted, because there were hardly any detectible notes of sichuan peppercorns). We absolutely LOVED Shufeng Garden in Rowland Heights though... how does Focus Plaza compare?

                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                j
                                JThur01 Oct 7, 2010 09:28 AM

                                I haven't been to the Rowland Heights location, so I can't compare it. For what it's worth, JGold has spoken well of the Focus Plaza location, though Chung King still comes off as his favorite - I believe more from a familiarity standpoint. Chung King's noted chef moved on to San Diego last year.

                                Let me also state that I am not dismissing ipsedixit's recommendations, quite the contrary. NCQ is very good and I do like Yunnan, I simply prefer it's "sister" location, Yunchuan. There also are, or at least were, some menu differences as well between Yunnan and Yunchuan.

                                1. re: JThur01
                                  Mr Taster Oct 7, 2010 10:06 AM

                                  We had a meal a year or two ago at the SD restaurant and it was absolutely phenomenal, certainly on par with Shufeng Garden. Our meal at Chung King just didn't measure up. I think JGold needs to revisit a few times...

                                  Mr Taster

                                  -----
                                  Chung King Restaurant
                                  1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                              2. re: JThur01
                                sasidhar79 Apr 14, 2011 05:35 PM

                                Shu Feng in Focus Plaza is closed, we need to drive all the way to Rowland Heights for Shu Feng.

                                -----
                                Shu Feng
                                18459 Colima Rd, Rowland Heights, CA 91748

                              3. a
                                aventinus Oct 6, 2010 02:34 PM

                                Without purporting to rank Szechuan restaurants in the SGV, this is a favorite of mine:

                                http://www.yelp.com/biz/yunnan-garden...

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: aventinus
                                  ipsedixit Oct 6, 2010 03:23 PM

                                  I like Yunnan Garden as well.

                                  But just be warned that while Yunnan and Sichuan share some similar qualities, esp. northern Yunnan cuisine, the focus and better dishes (e.g. rice noodles of Mengzhi) at Yunnan Garden are more indicative of the southern regions of the Yunnan province, which generally is not that similar to typical Sichuan cuisine found here in the U.S.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    m
                                    mopeyboy Oct 6, 2010 06:45 PM

                                    What about the Westside? Do any of you have recs for me?

                                    1. re: mopeyboy
                                      cant talk...eating Oct 6, 2010 08:58 PM

                                      Yeah - move out here! : ) Actually, I think the consensus is there's nothing remotely like Sichuan food west of the 710 Fwy, so you're out of luck. Numerous threads on Chinese food on the Westside, which usually end resigned to sort of bland Cantonese at Hop Woo, but I don't want to hijack the thread.

                                      -----
                                      Hop Woo
                                      11110 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                                2. ipsedixit Oct 6, 2010 11:56 AM

                                  I've never been a fan of Chung King, back then or now. I've always felt it was living off of the JGold hype.

                                  Depending on my mood and what I'm looking for, I go to New Chongqing on the corner of San Gabriel and Las Tunas.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    b
                                    Bradbury Oct 6, 2010 02:13 PM

                                    I'll second Ipse's recommendation of New Chongqing, and agree that Chung King has gone way downhill.

                                    One note about NCQ: just because there's a hot pot burner on every table, don't feel compelled to order a hot pot unless you really want to. The dan dan mien, pearl rice with pork, fried fish, and spicy eggplant dishes (among others) are better in my opinion, and with each hot pot ingredient priced incrementally, you get more bang for the buck ordering a la carte.

                                    1. re: Bradbury
                                      Will Owen Dec 25, 2010 02:03 PM

                                      "I'll second Ipse's recommendation of New Chongqing, and agree that Chung King has gone way downhill." There was a thread here a year or two ago, which unfortunately we read after an okay but disappointing meal at Chung King, on which was the news that the original chef had moved down to SD and if we wanted Salty Prickly Ash Ribs we'd have to make a day-trip out of it. Even in the original incarnation there were some non-stellar offerings, especially the very boring dan dan mien, but there was enough good stuff to make a bunch of us happy on several occasions. No more.

                                      -----
                                      Chung King Restaurant
                                      1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                        adamclyde Dec 26, 2010 07:38 AM

                                        Did he land at a restaurant in SD? Is it as good?

                                        1. re: adamclyde
                                          s
                                          sel Dec 26, 2010 04:47 PM

                                          I've only been to Ba Ren once and had a great meal. Search San Diego board for more info:

                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/65?t...

                                          1. re: sel
                                            k
                                            kevin Dec 26, 2010 06:02 PM

                                            oh, so that's why it was so similar. I've been once to BaRen too, great stuff. But I never knew that is was the same chef/owner?

                                    2. re: ipsedixit
                                      tenxtone76 Apr 28, 2011 02:45 AM

                                      Where are your favorite kung pao chickens? I really like Chung King and I like Tasty Garden in Alhambra.

                                      -----
                                      Chung King Restaurant
                                      1000 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

                                      Tasty Garden
                                      288 W Valley Blvd 110, Alhambra, CA 91801

                                      1. re: tenxtone76
                                        echoparkdirt Apr 28, 2011 12:28 PM

                                        thread here on the subject
                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/738133

                                        1. re: tenxtone76
                                          ipsedixit Apr 28, 2011 07:57 PM

                                          New Chongqing has the best kung pao chicken in my opinion.

                                          The one Tasty Garden isn't traditional Sichuan style kung pao, but if you like it, then that's all that really matters.

                                          -----
                                          Tasty Garden
                                          1212 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

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