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Jul 25, 2011 04:14 PM

Taste of Chongqing Opens In San Gabriel

With a number of my recent posts on this board dealing with old restaurants with new names, as well as a monologue on the same topic, I should clarify immediately that Taste of Chongqing, which replaces Hua Mei Szechwan Palace, is a completely new operation with a new liquor license, congratulatory plants, and a new telephone number. Not being a great fan of Sichuan style food, I'll leave it to other hounds to evaluate the food here. I did try to order a bean curd skin dish here but they gave me cabbage with bacon instead. Street address is 172 E. Valley Blvd., just east of Hawaii Market, once home to Sports Cafe and the Sea Harbour Cafe.

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  1. i can't wait! new chongqing has been in deep decline, so i need a replacement. will try this this weekend.

    1. No surprise about Hua Mei. Last time I passed by, it was populated by 1 diner and a full staff who were standing around looking very sad...and this was at peak dinner time.

      Sorry to hear NCQ is declining, any comments or detail you can add on that, echoparkdirt?

      15 Replies
      1. re: JThur01

        i dealt with my last two experiences at NCQ here

        and here

        -- the last one was bizarre, with both of us convinced that the dry-fried chicken was actually fish.

        I went with the same guy every time, and the progress from Amazing to Good Enough to Never Again was unanimous.

        1. re: echoparkdirt

          Sorry to hear that. Your first report I recall, but I somehow managed to miss your second post, which sounds terribly disappointing.

          There have been several "spicy" restaurants open in the SGV with little fanfare. Anyone been to H&H on Garvey? ...or find out how Happy Eating handles the Sichuan portion of their menu?

          It would be interesting to find out. Since NCQ, there have been pretenders, but no least AFAIK.

          Happy Eating Restaurant
          140 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776

          1. re: JThur01

            What about Lucky Noodle King?

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

            1. re: will47

              Yes, it came after NCQ. Then again, I think of it as the relocation (along with re-naming) of Chuan Yu...which it is!

              1. re: JThur01

                Yes - same owner, but the chef is different, and the menu features more standard (non-noodle / snack) type dishes.

          2. re: echoparkdirt

            We went to NCQ yesterday, but it was closed at lunch on a Friday! I wonder if that is their normal day off, or are they shutting down?

            1. re: suvro

              I am going to test out taste of chongqing at 530 today if anyone wants to Join....

              1. re: echoparkdirt

                I would have taken you up on that offer but I'll be at work unfortunately.

                1. re: echoparkdirt

                  Drat! I was in the area, but didn't check CH. Looking forward to your report. When I walked by, a bit earlier, I stopped and took a picture of the exterior. When I did, a woman in front, on a phone, yelled and waved for me to come in...though I was across Valley.

                  1. re: JThur01

                    Ok, I was only a party of one and I didn't feel the gorging Gods, so I only ordered the fried chicken cubes. I was extremely suspicious. The place was very big, disturbingly bright, and half full. Whatever feeling that sometimes occurs among chowhounds that "this place might be spectacular" wasn't there. The menu was alarming as well, 200 dishes, including such Sichuan staples as sweet and sour chicken. The cold bar appetizers looked a bit washed out, and there were no peanuts.

                    However, the chicken dish was spectacular. I can only say that I have not had better.

                    The woman were all very excited to see me. They offered me a fork (I declined, but then another woman helpfully gave me one of her own concern) and made sure I wanted "spicy". She also suggested I take a menu and tell my friends.

                    We must explore more dishes in this promising young contender.

                    1. re: echoparkdirt

                      Here is the pic of the fried chicken cubes, which is called something else (dry spicy chcken maybe)

                      1. re: echoparkdirt

                        Sorry I missed out. It would be great to get a bunch of folks together to try out several dishes. That is always the best way to sample as much as humanly possible...and cheaply to boot. I know that sort of group lunch/dinner has served me well in the past. Sounds like the chicken was good. Thanks for the report.

                        1. re: JThur01

                          I would be down for a hound meetup but I don't think I could handle too much "spicy" level food.

                          1. re: Johnny L

                            Went Wed for lunch, not many people there for lunch. Also had the dried chicken cube dish, the mapo dofu and the hui guo rou. Was not able to try some of the other dishes with heat as my lunch mates dont do heat. I dont know why they picked this place. I felt thirsty afterwards like I had some msg. They seem to have quite a few frog dishes. Those szechuan frog leg dishes were really popular in shanghai last year. I wonder what these are like. I've never had them here. I just dont know if I want to eat frog again.

                            1. re: cartbaby

                              Thirsty afterwards?, just head to one of dozens of places where you can get a milk tea (for the heat) or a flavored black/green tea. I usually have a milk tea or shaved ice after Sichuan.

            2. Lets see if this location can last for at least a year once again or bite the dust in a few months.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Johnny L

                I put the over/under at about 6 months. Bad feng shui.

                1. re: Chandavkl

                  I managed lunch there Tuesday and I concur with echoparkdirt, this place is promising. The menu is full of two and three asterisk dishes. On first taste, I would put it alongside Yunchuan Garden (now Yunkun Garden), or Yunnan Garden for those of you who've only been there. And that's not a bad thing, Yunchuan was one of my favorites. The cold table only offers 8 selections instead of the 12 found at some Sichuan places, but the "Husband & Wife" was as good as I've had anywhere and woodear mushrooms were a first for me, at least as a Sichuan cold app. I definitely hope they make a go of it and want to re-visit to try more.

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

                2. There is now an "Old Chongqing" in that cursed corner spot that has a new restaurant every 2 months (Valley and New). Haven't tried it, but surprised that none of the usual suspects have noticed its presence.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: will47

                    Noticed. Just... don't care? =)

                    1. re: will47

                      That's a New Chong Qing, their second outpost and only AYCE hot pot. which has been mentioned here in other threads. Which reminds me, I need to post an update here about that.

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

                      1. re: JThur01

                        Sorry will, Tony pointed out to me the change from "New" to "Old". The sign was not up last time I went by, which was only a couple of weeks ago.