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China Hot in RWC

Melanie where art thou? Just teasing, but sort of waiting to hear from her on this replacement for Sichuan Delight, which she reviewed in depth (as she has for seemingly every other northern Chinese restaurant in the area). Place has gotten great reviews on Yelp since opening in March, but who knows...May have to try it myself cold (i.e., before finding out what Melanie thinks).

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Sichuan Delight
2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. I'm just not getting to that part of town frequently - I look forward to what others say.

    1. So, have you tried it yet? The menu looks good.
      http://www.chinahot.us/

      I noticed the term "fire burst", as in "Fire Burst Hot Sliced Lamb". The first place that I saw that terminology was at Albany's China Village. And so far the other Sichuan restaurants that use it have chefs that used to work there. So, that's a hopeful sign.

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      China Hot
      2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

      3 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Yes, got tired of waiting for you. Pick-up your game Melanie! :)
        Not sure why I said "northern" in my OP, think I meant "regional". A lot of Sichuan-type dishes as far as I saw. Fire Burst Lamb was cooked surprisingly rare. Tasty enough, but perhaps a bit under-seasoned. Twice cooked pork also lacked something flavor-wise and, relative to the best renditions of the dish I've had, the texture of the pork seemed a bit limp, if that makes any sense. The shell shrimp with red chile pepper was one of the half-dozen best dishes I've had this year of any type of cuisine (saved the punch-line for last). It was flavorful, interesting and well-proportioned in every way. The batter was outside the shell, yet still left the impression of crispy, spicy deliciousness on the sweet peeled shrimp.

        1. re: Lisa S.

          You've been reading the wrong boards. Melanie's been all over the place, just not the Bay Area.

        2. re: Melanie Wong

          Well, need to have some take out to enjoy at a Sharks viewing party. So I ordered some beef noodle soup to go (I only had to supply one dish for the pot luck). Found the soup it self well season with a depth of flavor. They were willing to spice it up to your taste. I did ask about the chef with the manager (or maybe the owner) and was informed that he has worked as a chef for almost forty years and comes for Chingdo. He show me a copy of the Chinese menu (which I will translate as soon as I return from a short trip from Chingdo). I boldly asked if I find dishes in China I like would the chef be willing to take on my request. Told they would like to meet my needs. I will report back in a month. My host do not like organ meats but I did see my favorite Fire Burst Flower Kidney, but did not see my other favorite a Blood and Intestine Stew, which will be one my first request when I get back.

          I am really too close not follow up this lead. Also just opened in Redwood City is a Beijing offering on ECR but parking was not available the last two days.

          But from the small tasting I am looking forward to return.

        3. Actually, William and I had a chance to check it out last week. Supplementing the regular menu shown on its website, there’s a table top menu with additional special dishes. The partners and kitchen crew came from Spices 4 in Foster City. Apparently that restaurant is up for sale or might have sold already.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          Unlike the Spices restaurants, the Sichuan stylings here do not include the Taiwanese take, or “no stinky tofu” as was emphatically described to us. The lead guy in front of the house is from Beijing and the cooks are from Chengdu and Chongqing.

          To start, Hot spicy beef combination aka fuqi fei pian, $5.95, made with beef shank, strips of tendon, and honeycomb tripe. A really good version, loaded with fragrant Sichuan peppercorns and while spicy hot, not going for the macho overload.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          The Tan tan noodle aka dandan mian, $7.25, was my favorite dish of the night. Very tasty, if swimming in too much sauce but that’s mostly a visual defect. When asked for feedback, I mentioned this. The dish was then whisked away to the kitchen where much shouting ensued, which made me feel very guilty.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          The Sliced lamb with cumin spice, $10.95, is made is a juicy, wet style, whereas I prefer a dryer, more seared format. Nice dish, but the cooks forgot to add cumin. This one also went back into the kitchen with much heated discussion again, and returned with the requisite fragrant cumin.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          Another simple but not often prepared well dish, the Hot and sour stirfried potato strips, $8.95. Perfect texture, still firmish and juicy, and a bright acidic flavor. Not spicy at all.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          From the specials list, we ordered the Soft tofu and fish filet, $12.95. Excellent quality of fish but the soft tofu wasn’t really doufu hua, being firmer than that.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          We received a complimentary order of Fried yam pancakes filled with sweetened red bean paste to make up for the minor missteps. We’re told that this would regularly be $4.50. Excellent, softly chewy, greaseless, well-judged sweetness.
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

          I asked my brother how he’d compare this to Da Sichuan in Palo Alto which he has tried many times. He couldn’t say that one is better than the other; they’re different. From our small sampling, China Hot doesn’t seem to be as spicy hot and doesn’t fill the plate with dried red chilis. Our dishes showed more finesse and higher touch.

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          Da Sichuan
          3781 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

          China Hot
          2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

          5 Replies
          1. re: Melanie Wong

            Nice report, I will have to try it...
            Are any of the table top dishes on an English menu? Or is this one of those Chinese places where you can't get the specials without speaking Mandarin...

            Also, is Spices 4 closed? I like their stinky tofu and don't want to have to go into the city to get it.

            1. re: lrealml

              No the Chinese menu is not on the printed menu but the staff speak decent English. The Manager seem very friendly and willing to help out. So not speaking Chinese should not stop you from enjoying the food.

              1. re: yimster

                nuts. hopefully they'll realize quick (like Su Hong PA did) that printing the Chinese specialties is a good idea.

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                Su Hong
                1039 El Camino Real, Menlo Park, CA 94025

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Bear in mind that the Chinese language menu is only 9 dishes. Easy enough to ask the manager to translate on the fly, that's what I did. See the photograph.

                  The English language menu is online and has many, many Sichuan specialties fully translated. We only ordered one dish from the Chinese menu and it was not our favorite. Sorry if that was not clear enough for folks to understand.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Ah, good! I've looked more at what's on the website, and they appear to have done a decent translation job. In opposition, my favorite dish at Da Sichuan is "spicy fish fillet", which does no justice to the dish.

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                    Da Sichuan
                    3781 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                    China Hot
                    2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

          2. Has anyone else checked it out yet?

            William and I went back for a second visit two weeks ago. The owner remembered us and brought out a complimentary appetizer that they’re developing for the menu. He called it a crab and cream cheese puff, and I told him that it was invented by Trader Vic’s and named Crab Rangoon.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Served with a sweet red-colored dipping sauce, the puff was expertly fried and had a decent amount of crab in it. But it did give me pause that the kitchen might be pandering to a different audience.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            For a cold appetizer, we started with Chinese bacon with garlic sauce, $5.95. Made in the red oil style with coarsely chopped garlic rather than the “garlic mud” I prefer, some pieces had tougher lean sections, others more tender-meated. Overall, a good version.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Then the Spicy fish filet bowl with flaming red oil (aka water boiled fish), $10.25, to make a comparison with my brother’s favorite dish at Da Sichuan. Thick slabs of fish cooked perfectly, very spicy hot, topped with extra red chile flakes, Sichuan pepper corn and minced garlic, Napa cabbage and celery underneath.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            William said the texture of the fish was better here and perhaps better balanced in seasoning, but Da Sichuan’s was even hotter. China Hot’s was plenty spicy, and I could only eat a couple pieces even after carefully wiping off the hot oil.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Next, Szechuan chicken cold noodle, $7.25. Marked as spicy on the menu, this was very spicy and hotter than other versions I’ve had at Little Sichuan and Crouching Tiger. Good noodle texture, delicate and tender strips of chicken breast, a creamy sesame tone, this needed more cooling cucumber for my taste. I was getting overheated at this point in the meal. Next time I’d ask the kitchen to tone down the spice level, but I’d certainly order this again.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            And an excellent version of Mapo tofu, $8.95. The standard order is vegetarian with no meat. Made here with soft tofu, not the firm bean curd that we prefer would be my only real criticism. Dusted with powdered Sichuan peppercorns for even more kick, it became almost dangerous to inhale deeply.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            Last up, my favorite dish of the night, Dry braised pork intestine, $8.95. The very crispy, well-browned, and juicy chitlins were intensely spicy with fresh jalapeño, dried red chile pods, chile flakes, Sichuan pepper corn, and strips of celery. The intestines were so well-charred, they picked up a bacon-y smokiness.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/melaniew...

            We felt like we saw the earthier, more rustic side of the cuisine this time.

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            Da Sichuan
            3781 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

            China Hot
            2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

            3 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Several weeks ago I picked up a take out order and even though I had a pretty good conversation with the owner, I was somewhat disappointed - maybe I made poor choices.

              But just looking at and reading your post about the Dry Braised Pork Intestines, I will have to make another visit. I still remember the version they made at the long gone Zone 88 - absolutely delicious.

              #1 under House Treasures - Chicken Wings with Red Chili Pepper
              This was the typical chopped chicken wings with lots of dried chilies but it was mostly bones with not much meat on them. They seemed to be battered which I don't remember seeing before. I've had better...

              #8 in Appetizers, Numbing Spicy Beef Tendon became boring after just a few bites, lots of chili heat and more Sichuan pepper corns than I think I've ever tasted on a restaurant dish - our lips were numb for an hour.

              #10 in Vegetarian Dishes, Stir-Fried Chinese Watercress with garlic, turned out to be A-choy. Love green veggies so this was fine.

              Have to get back and try those crispy intestines - thanks for the heads-up.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Hubba Hubba! This place is great - what was I waiting for?

                I had the "Fire Burst Tulo Fan Beef". I have no idea what Fire Burst means, or "Tulo Fan" (there's a famous "fan cooked pork" place in x'ian, but no relation), and the quantity of cumin was non-existent, but boy was that a great dish.

                I also had the "Thick bean paste salad noodle", looking forward to a noodle-ish dish on a cold night, but it was more like tapioca pearls extruded into big cubes with a hot sauce. Good, but weird.

                Traffic was moderate on a Sunday night, all young chinese people speaking chinese (generally northern accents).

                I think the quality of ingredients and the interesting menu puts it above Da Sichuan, and the quality of the food puts it about Crouching Tiger. Not quite as accessible, though.

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                Crouching Tiger
                2644 Broadway St, Redwood City, CA 94063

                Da Sichuan
                3781 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                1. re: bbulkow

                  Actually I had the "Thick bean paste salad noodle" too and had the same reaction - more weird than good (and I usually like those kinds of dishes...). It had a tremendous amount of sichuan pepper corns - another thing I usually really like but they were truly overwhelming in this dish.

              2. A bit late to the game, but I think this place and Da Sichuan in Palo Alto are probably top two in the Bay Area for Sichuanese.

                For China Hot, this was probably the only place that does the Gan Bian Si Ji Dou (Dry fried green beans), in the classical manner, ie not deep fried. Sauce flavor was pretty authentic, with the yacai (preserved vegetable). Their Water Boiled fish/lamb/protein is also a good rendition. Hua Jiao (sichuan peppercorns) is liberally used to good effect.

                Any one gone recently? I hope their business picked up...

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                Da Sichuan
                3781 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

                China Hot
                2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

                2 Replies
                1. re: Cary

                  Had lunch a couple of weeks ago - just me so I just had a rice plate. Hot and sour soup was a good version I thought. Lots of tree ears, bamboo and tofu. Not very spicy but tasted good on that gloomy day. I had the Sichuan Chicken lunch. Nice presentation on a pretty red pottery type of plate, bowl of rice upended on the plate, a bit of shredded lettuce salad and the chicken which had a lot of thin sliced bamboo and carrot in the mix. Hefty amount of sliced garlic, very flavorful sauce without any glop. Didn't really taste much Sichuan peppercorn. I enjoyed my lunch...

                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                    Anyone notice that the food at China Hot is incredibly salty compared to other Sichuan restaurants like Spicy Empire?

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

                    China Hot
                    2525 El Camino Real, Redwood City, CA 94063

                2. RIP China Hot - was in that area today and it's closed.

                  New banner up on bldg. "Coming soon - El Grullense Grill"...

                  3 Replies
                    1. re: bbulkow

                      I was disappointed too. Interior is partially torn up and new ABC app dated 11/18 posted on the window...

                    2. re: RWCFoodie

                      Because there aren't enough El Grillenses already :-( !!