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New Sichuan Restaurant in San Mateo: Spicy Empire

Melanie Wong Jan 12, 2011 08:38 PM

Have you tried the sichuan food?

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  1. s
    shanghaikid Jan 12, 2011 08:54 PM

    no. sichuan food is not one of my favs. may try it though. now called "spicy empire". has another location in s.f. chitown.

    5 Replies
    1. re: shanghaikid
      Melanie Wong Jan 12, 2011 09:17 PM

      Thanks for the name. I can't find a place with that name in SF, must have a different handle.

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      Spicy Empire
      105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

      1. re: Melanie Wong
        s
        shanghaikid Jan 12, 2011 09:22 PM

        got the name and address off their "menu" on window. couldn't find s.f. locale etiher.
        thought it said waverly.?

        1. re: shanghaikid
          Melanie Wong Jan 12, 2011 09:43 PM

          If the address is Waverly, then it sounds like it might be Pot Sticker, a "Mandarin" restaurant that has relaunched as Sichuan.

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          Pot Sticker
          150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            s
            shanghaikid Jan 12, 2011 10:07 PM

            i thought so too.

            1. re: shanghaikid
              Melanie Wong Jan 19, 2011 12:16 AM

              No one has tried Spicy Empire yet?

              -----
              Spicy Empire
              105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

    2. RWCFoodie Jan 19, 2011 08:46 AM

      I believe this is the place that went into the former Shanghai East space when same moved to Millbrae to open Shanghai Bistro; I was told that this was the case.. Will have to check out Spicy Empire...

      Shanghai Bistro (last week signage was still I think Family Chinese Bistro or something like that)
      1101 El Camino
      Millbrae CA

      -----
      Shanghai East Restaurant
      105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

      1 Reply
      1. re: RWCFoodie
        Melanie Wong Jan 19, 2011 09:08 AM

        Yes, that's correct. This thread was split off this discussion of Shanghai Bistro.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7514...

        Please do let us know how you like Spicy Empire.

        -----
        Spicy Empire
        105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

      2. K K Jan 19, 2011 09:21 PM

        Walked past Spicy Empire last Friday. They're the sister restaurant to The Pot Sticker in Chinatown (150 Waverly Place). I too am not too adventurous when it comes to Sichuan cuisine, but glancing at the takeout menu, there are a lot of choices, especially for those who like spicy. There's the Sichuanese everyone knows about thanks to wikipedia, a few Shanghainese stuff (xiao long bao cough cough), and some dishes I have no clue what it is, but the Chinese names for it are catchy.

        Yelp reviews aren't terribly kind for The Pot Sticker, but then again this place might be a bit too Sichuan for many folks. Looking at the Yelp photos, the run of the mill stuff people ordered thinking it would be good (e.g. pot stickers... lamb noodle soup) didn't look good, but the more interesting looking dishes like the water boiled spicy fish, "chuanchuan guo".

        Takeout menu (and seemingly restaurant menu per Yelp pic of Pot Sticker) offers some "private kitchen" style high end looking dishes and chef's specials, may or may not require advanced order. A few look quite exotic, maybe French-esque presentation (and inspiration), perhaps a hint of high end banquet style, but then there's a dish that has crocodile meat...

        -----
        Pot Sticker
        150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Spicy Empire
        105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

        2 Replies
        1. re: K K
          Melanie Wong Jan 19, 2011 09:28 PM

          Here's my post on the two items I ordered at the Pot Sticker.
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7201...

          Knowing that the chef at Pot Sticker had come from Z & Y made it easy to pick those from the menu. Is the Guilin noodle dish on the Spicy Empire menu?

          -----
          Z & Y
          655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Pot Sticker
          150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

          Spicy Empire
          105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            K K Jan 20, 2011 08:55 AM

            Yes, Spicy Empire menu has Guilin rice noodle.

            -----
            Spicy Empire
            105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

        2. f
          foodlover Jan 22, 2011 10:30 AM

          The kitchen and serving staff are still fine tuning after a soft opening, but Spicy Empire has potential. In some ways, the food was better than Mao's Kitchen (aka The Noodle Shop) down the block and across the street. The hot oil fish (not pictured) was very flavorful with good quality filets. If you're not into fiery hot dishes, you can ask them to tone it down. However, that misses the point of great Sichuan cuisine expertly prepared. Sorry for the quality of the attached photos; taken with an iPhone since I didn't have my food camera with macro lens with me.

          -----
          Spicy Empire
          105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

           
           
           
          1. f
            foodlover Jan 23, 2011 10:38 PM

            Returned tonight to Spicy Empire and had a terrific meal. They're definitely worth a visit -- and I suspect Mao's Kitchen(aka The Noodle Shop) may be losing some clientele. The dishes are more expensive here, but they are worth it. They have great flavor, besides being spicy/hot. Photos posted below.

            The eggplant w/garlic sauce was excellent ($7.95). We had the spicy fish filet w/flaming chili oil again ($15.95), and it was outstanding. There are several other spicy fish dishes on the menu, so make sure you know which one you are ordering. The sauteed vermicelli w/spicy minced pork is another winner ($9.95). Note that the take-out menu does not have a chili mark to indicate this is a spicy dish; the dinner menu does. We tried a new dish - cumin beef ribs ($12.95). If you like cumin, you will like these ribs. They are reminiscent of cumin dishes from China's Xinjiang Province.

            If you spend $30 or more, you can get a spicy fried fish filet dish for $1.95 (reg. price $12.95). It is a full portion, not a small promotional dish.

            Perhaps the best discovery of the night were string beans w/salty egg yolk batter ($8.95). They also do bitter melon and corn in the same batter. Wish they would do a combo of two or all three veggies. Going for the bitter melon next time!

            We ordered too much for four, but from sampling what we did, we have confidence in what the chef can do. They threw in dessert - a nice, piping hot bowl of tofu fah with Chinese dates in wine-flavored broth. The tab was $70.

            Definitely worth checking out if you enjoy Sichuan cuisine.

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            Spicy Empire
            105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

             
             
             
             
             
             
             
            1. Ruth Lafler Jan 28, 2011 08:23 PM

              I was looking for a place to have dinner and wait out the traffic and wandered into Spicy Empire. After much vacillating, I ended up with the spicy dumplings, pork belly with spicy garlic sauce and green onion pancakes. Overall, I thought it was quite good. The dumplings were excellent, although the sauce could have used a different balance of soy sauce and chile oil (less soy, more chile oil -- I asked the waitress if she had asked for it made less spicy for me, and she said no, then said if I wanted it more spicy I should tell her next time). The pork belly was an excellent rendition (and generous portion) that included some finely julienned cucumber. The green onion pancakes were too oily.

              Service was friendly, and it's quite stylish, including some fancy presentation of one of their specialties. The food on all the other tables looked good -- most of the other patrons were Asian.

              There was a banquet menu that was only in Chinese, and mentions on the menu about special dishes available on request, so it might be fun to do a special chowdown there.

              Has anyone tried the Filipino restaurant in the next block? Or the Peruvian restaurant around a couple of blocks away on El Camino? Seems like a interesting collection of restaurants within a 2-block radius of 25th Ave. and El Camino.

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              Spicy Empire
              105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

              2 Replies
              1. re: Ruth Lafler
                e
                estnet Jan 29, 2011 04:43 PM

                The Filipino restaurant was quite good - but I haven't been back for a year (too many choices and out of town too much). Portions were large and food was tasty and well prepared.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                  baron45 Nov 7, 2011 09:33 PM

                  Had lunch here a couple days ago. Restaurant was half full w/ almost all Chinese patrons.

                  Dishes ordered were:

                  Guilin Rice Noodle Soup

                  Bean Jello In Red Chili Sauce

                  Spicy Beef Tendon

                  Fish Filet w/ Flaming Chili Oil

                  All dishes were tasty and we requested them to tone down the spiciness a bit. They were all executed with the right amount of heat. Much better than China Hot in RWC which used an exorbitant amount of salt.

                2. eatzalot Jan 29, 2011 07:47 AM

                  Thanks for the reports and photos, this is intriguing. Any tips on good Sichuan restaurants are welcome!

                  Even more so, after new owners re-branded another place down the Peninsula "Sichuan" and yet an order of its ma po dou fu produces a bland unrecognizable dish. (Some months ago at Han Gen aka Hangen Szechuan, formerly Hangen Seafood Restaurant, downtown Mountain View.) Bad enough without neighboring restaurants, which don't even label themselves Sichuan, having had Sichuanese chefs, turning out classic versions of that specialty, for years -- not to mention that it's an easy dish to make well.

                  (Notwithstanding K K, I hope more people know Sichuan dishes from experience than Wikipedia. Though it doesn't seem to've been uniform around the US, that cuisine caught hold here in the 1970s and 80s, via restaurants and cookbooks -- related thread below -- refs to it surfaced in mainstream US culture -- introducing many people to dishes demanding the occasional "fix" once you're hooked.)

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/754167

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                  Hangen Szechuan
                  134 Castro St, Mountain View, CA 94041

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: eatzalot
                    Ruth Lafler Jan 29, 2011 08:14 AM

                    The menu at Spicy Empire is a bit strange: it's about 90 percent Sichuan dishes, a few Chinese-American dishes, and on the back page, several variations on pho. Pho?

                    The "numbing spicy" hot pots sound interesting, especially the one with "duck chin" (from the photos appears to be just that: the fried bill/lower jaw of a duck).

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                    Spicy Empire
                    105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler
                      f
                      Foodnut8 Feb 7, 2011 11:01 AM

                      FYI the food at Spicy Empire is definitely on the more authentic heat side. Their dishes are Extremely spicy, far more so than places like China village and Crouching Tiger. Make sure you order some Rice and beer!

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                      Crouching Tiger
                      2644 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                      Spicy Empire
                      105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                      1. re: Foodnut8
                        Ruth Lafler Feb 7, 2011 11:12 AM

                        I've eaten at China Village many times, and I don't think Spicy Empire is any spicier. In fact, one of the dishes I ordered was slightly milder than I expected. I also thought the pork with spicy garlic sauce was not as complex as China Village. That said, I'm splitting hairs -- the food at Spicy Empire is certainly spicy enough!

                        -----
                        Spicy Empire
                        105 W 25th Ave, San Mateo, CA 94403

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler
                          f
                          Foodnut8 Feb 11, 2011 08:38 AM

                          The Spicy crab, needs to be ordered today ahead of time, and is pretty explosive IMHO.

                      2. re: Ruth Lafler
                        Melanie Wong Feb 10, 2011 11:37 PM

                        The pho might be a throwback to its Pot Sticker << Z&Y lineage. The crossing the bridge noodles at Z & Y are often described as similar to pho, so maybe Spicy decided to just call it that.

                        -----
                        Z & Y
                        655 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                        Pot Sticker
                        150 Waverly Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108

                    2. m
                      markseiden Mar 22, 2012 04:38 PM

                      two of us ate here for lunch today. (25th ave is turning into quite a foodie street, from edison to the
                      fairgrounds.) the szechuan cold noodle was excellent - dark sesame sauce and numbing pepper.
                      the other dishes were a crispy scallop dish (with lots of onion and hot green pepper, and, strangely,
                      little crackers as a bed that were a lot like pita chips. also dry sauteed string beans that could not
                      be faulted.

                      1. b
                        Bradbury Apr 17, 2012 03:05 PM

                        LA Chowhound here, just back home from a few days of meetings in Redwood Shores. The lovely wife and I regularly haunt the Chinese offerings of the SGV, but with the recent downhill slide of (our previous favorite) New Chong Qing in San Gabriel, we were keen on seeing what we could find for good Sichuan near our hotel, and some searches of Chowhound and Yelp turned up Spicy Empire.

                        We were pleasantly surprised, enjoying it enough to go twice in 3 nights (in between was a night at New Kapadokia). A brief rundown:

                        The good:
                        - BIG portions and attractive presentations, at least by our usual Sichuan standards. Had enough for a few lunches the next day.
                        - Outstanding dan dan mien (called "tan tan noodles" on the menu); very rich and tasty and not a total grease-bomb as it can sometimes be elsewhere. The sauce wasn't quite as lip-smackingly porky as at New Chong Qing, but the quality of noodles was much better.
                        - Ma pu tofu was silky smooth and had just the right amount of punch
                        - Excellent fried fish fillet with chili garlic, string beans in egg yolk batter and eggplant in garlic sauce

                        The bad:
                        - Beef ribs in "exploding chili" had a great complex spiciness, but the thin lateral cut of rib dried out far too quickly. This dish is also available with lamb chops; this is probably the way to go as the ones we saw on a nearby table looked much more tender than the ribs.
                        - House special fried rice was just meh ... bland and uninteresting.

                        The weird:
                        - With a touch of ceremony, the waitstaff brought the party at the next table the biggest, most delicious looking pork pump I've ever seen. Hmm ... always thought that pork pump was straight-up Shanghainese. Must have been on the special order-in-advance menu as I didn't see it on the regular one.

                        The ugly:
                        - The fruit flies. There were about three of our little Drosophila friends pestering us the first night, and maybe twice that number on the second night despite us sitting about 4 tables closer to the door (they were in the restroom too.) We mentioned this to the waitress and she pretended not to see any, then used an electric fly swatter a few tables over when she thought we weren't looking!

                        We hope to be back next year and order carefully; despite its flaws Spicy Empire is better than anything Sichuan in the SGV right now. It would be nice if they could schedule a fumigation in the meantime, though.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Bradbury
                          Melanie Wong Apr 18, 2012 08:25 PM

                          Thanks for the update. I haven't managed to make it over there yet, but the dandan mian is certainly tempting. Could you say more about the green beans with egg yolk batter, please?

                        2. h
                          hyperbowler Jan 22, 2013 05:14 AM

                          Popped in when in the neighborhood.

                          Couple's delight: I've not had this dish before, but it was reminiscent of the tendon in hot chili sauce I've had elsewhere. Not exactly sure what the pieces of offal were in this dish, but the thin slice of meat had a nice balanced texture. Nothing too chewy, nothing too soft. Flavored with chili oil and sichuan peppercorns.

                          Deep fried biiter melon with salty egg yolk: You have the choice of bitter melon, string beans, or corn of all things. I've never had bitter melon served deep fried before. I expect it wouldn't be to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. It reminded me of undercooked/unsalted fried eggplant, something I also happen to like. I don't particularly enjoy salty egg yolk, but I could see it's value to the dish.

                          Tan tan noodles:
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8844...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: hyperbowler
                            bbulkow Oct 11, 2013 12:27 AM

                            Stopped by (finally!) tonight.

                            Got a take out of:
                            Spicy Fish Fillet Soup
                            Dry Fried Eggplant
                            1000 chili chicken (bone-in)

                            Overall, quite good! Nothing was terribly spicy, everything had a lot of flavor, more so than the recent New China Village visit.

                            The Fish Fillet improved wtih sitting in the soup, with the peppercorns.

                            Dry Fried Eggplant was a bust, almost no spice apparent.

                            1000 chili chicken was nice and red/juicy inside, good taste.

                            Large portions! Fairly high price, but reasonable after I saw the portions.

                            However,

                            At 7:45 on a Thursday, NO ONE inside. I spent 5 minutes thinking and 15 minutes waiting for the food. No one came or left. Worried that they're not long for the world.

                            Would be eating a lot more of the menu if I lived closer, now that I have the to-go they should fit in the standard rotation of Sunday Night Take Out.

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