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Taste of Chong Qing, anyone?

Ciao Bob Sep 16, 2011 03:10 PM

Has anyone tried this place since Thi N.'s "glowing hot" review in the LA Times?
Any standout dishes?

http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

  1. c
    CulverJack Feb 10, 2012 11:08 AM

    Wow! Went for lunch yesterday and from my experience I would say this is tops for Sichuan right now. The fellow who seated us said he was sorry we had to go back to work afterwards (so were we!).

    Had excellent fried chicken with dried chile, fully ma la, where even the individual chicken pieces were spicier than the red chile bodies by a long shot. Totally invigorating dish, I thought one of my friends was going to burst into flames right there at the table.

    Really great beef with pickled chile also, good counterpart to the fried chicken with sauce and lots of celery. Finally, stir fried lamb with hot chiles was exactly that, good quality ingredients and lots of chiles to keep everything honest and interesting. I love these dishes. Definitely my idea of comfort food in the spiked out endorphin region of my brain.

    Nice folks too, service was good and we felt very welcome. We truly enjoyed the experience, and felt completely "done" in full ma la coma at the end. What more could one want? Don't answer that....

    1. Ciao Bob Sep 20, 2011 08:37 AM

      I went with a party of 14 spread over two tables, all from Taiwan or the mainland. Everyone loved it. We don't need clean or refined in SGV Chinese, but it doesn't hurt. Both the water boiled dishes -fish and beef were first rate. The baked fish were standouts. Extremely fresh vegetable dishes. The twice-cooked pork was a little skimpy on pork, and the dan dan mein was nothing special. Overall though it has my vote for SGV's best Sichuan of the moment.

      Thanks Thi N.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ciao Bob
        j
        Johnny L Sep 21, 2011 09:16 AM

        Did you go on Saturday? Because I'm pretty sure I saw two tables who were together?

        Well either way I was there and service was a bit of a mess, I assume because of those two tables since the kitchen seemed flustered and big tables kept coming in.

        They need to get their game on if they want to keep getting customers, such as having someone run front of house who is at least competent. They tried to put two circle tables together for our party of 9... seriously? We just ended up moving after one of the big tables left.

        As for the food I thought it was good, nothing mindblowing but I would definitely eat there again but on a weekday instead. I liked the flavor of their spicy cumin lamb but there are barely any meat on the bone and I mean a stingy amount. Twice cooked pork and mabo tofu are rather forgettable but I did like the fried spareribs and pork belly with bean sprouts.

      2. s
        sushigirlie Sep 19, 2011 07:22 PM

        I thought it was very good, and a step above the other Sichuan restaurants (or Yunnan restaurants serving Sichuan food) I've been to in the SGV. I appreciated the cleanliness of the restaurant and the nice dishes. Sure, the food is paramount, but why should I have to eat it in a dump? I was also impressed by the appearance of the dishes. It wasn't exactly Providence, but it was evident that they had made an effort to make the food look good, which is rare in the SGV.

        The food itself was very good. I tried the "baked fish" special. As Thi notes, this fish is certainly deep fried, but it's possible that it is quickly deep fried and then quickly baked. The deep-fried skin was thin and crispy, leaving pristine, moist flesh underneath. This was unusually refined by SGV standards. It was accompanied by sliced potatoes and celery in a hot and numbing sauce.

        Also good was the julienned five-spice tofu with Chinese chives (called "bean curd with leek" on the menu). Often, the tofu in this dish is over-dry and rubbery, but it tasted moist and fresh here. This was the best rendition I can remember in the SGV.

        7 Replies
        1. re: sushigirlie
          ipsedixit Sep 19, 2011 09:16 PM

          Were the napkin holders up to snuff?

          1. re: ipsedixit
            s
            sushigirlie Sep 19, 2011 09:19 PM

            They had napkins on the table, but the napkins were flimsy and barely acceptable. I'd be happy to pay 10 cents more for a legitimate napkin.

            1. re: sushigirlie
              j
              JThur01 Sep 19, 2011 10:50 PM

              So, the former Yunchuan Garden is marked down over the napkin situation? :-)

              1. re: JThur01
                k
                kevin Sep 19, 2011 11:37 PM

                If the food is good enough, I'll just bring my own damn napkins.

                I tried the Sichuan eggplant. Not a fan. Just too vinegary for me.

                Really liked the sauteed fish slices in pickled pepper.

                And the fried chicken cubes with dried red peppers. Was mind numblingly spicy in the ma la parlance, but I think my favorite version is still Chung King on San Gabriel at it's zenith before it slowly crept downhill.

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

                1. re: JThur01
                  s
                  sushigirlie Sep 20, 2011 06:32 AM

                  The napkins have improved there, actually.

                  1. re: JThur01
                    ipsedixit Sep 20, 2011 08:17 PM

                    So, the former Yunchuan Garden is marked down over the napkin situation? :-)

                    _________________________________________________

                    This is apparently critical information for sushigirlie. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7951...

                  2. re: sushigirlie
                    raytamsgv Sep 20, 2011 10:50 AM

                    This is important to know. :-)

              2. j
                Johnny L Sep 17, 2011 05:47 PM

                I'll probably end up eating there tonight with the family, I'll try to report back

                1. w
                  will47 Sep 17, 2011 02:47 PM

                  Went with friends a few weeks ago (one of whom had been a few times). We all thought it was Ok -- and better than expected, given how empty it's always looked in there before the LAT review. Service was a little slow, even when it was early and not that busy.

                  Of the things we tried, I can only directly comment on the vegetarian dishes; the mapo tofu (which apparently is not made with pork at this restaurant by default, so really 'mala tofu') was pretty similar to that at the Chung King on San Gabriel before all the "downhill alerts" - very numbing and pretty spicy. Eggplant (yuxiang qiezi) was Ok... flavor was good, and it wasn't too sweet as it often is at New Chongqing, but they used some parts of the eggplant that probably should have been discarded, so the texture was a little iffy. I got an order of dan dan mian just to try out their take on it, and felt the noodles were a little too soft; flavor was good otherwise, after adding some chili oil. I felt the flavor of their chili oil was not ideal, though - bordering on rancid.

                  My dining companions had a spicy fried fish dish with potatoes in a chafing dish, which everyone seemed to like, twice cooked pork, which I think they said was decent but maybe not anyone's favorite rendition, kidney with pickled chilis, plus the free chicken dish ("saliva" (i.e., appetizing) chicken) they seem to give everyone.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: will47
                    ipsedixit Sep 17, 2011 02:55 PM

                    Of the things we tried, I can only directly comment on the vegetarian dishes; the mapo tofu (which apparently is not made with pork at this restaurant by default, so really 'mala tofu')
                    _____________________________________________

                    The 婆 in 麻婆豆腐 (or Ma Po Tofu) does not refer to pork.

                    1. re: ipsedixit
                      w
                      will47 Sep 17, 2011 03:01 PM

                      Where did I say it did?

                      But the dish is typically made with ground meat.

                      1. re: will47
                        ipsedixit Sep 17, 2011 03:11 PM

                        It would still be 麻婆豆腐 without the pork, or the ground meat.

                        Why would it be called 馬拉豆腐 simply because it is vegetarian, or sans meat?

                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          huiray Sep 17, 2011 05:08 PM

                          Even if it were to be called "mala tofu" I think it would be 麻辣豆腐 (cantonese [yale] ma4 lat6 dou6 fu6), meaning "numbing hot tofu".
                          The phrase 馬拉豆腐 (cantonese [yale] ma5 laai1 dou6 fu6) you suggested might mean "horse pulled tofu", as one meaning.
                          :-)

                          1. re: huiray
                            ipsedixit Sep 17, 2011 08:47 PM

                            You're absolutely right.

                            As an aside, 麻婆 really means "old lady" or "old hag". So 麻婆豆腐 is really an old hag's tofu dish. How appetizing.

                  2. c
                    Chandavkl Sep 16, 2011 03:17 PM

                    Several did, though it may have preceded the article.

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/797929

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Chandavkl
                      Ciao Bob Sep 16, 2011 04:10 PM

                      Thanks very much, Chandavkl.

                      A Few Chowhounds -- luke warm to "promising"
                      vs.
                      Thi N. -- "impeccable"

                      I'll give it a shot this weekend.

                      1. re: Ciao Bob
                        j
                        JThur01 Sep 16, 2011 11:50 PM

                        I got there about 10 days before Thi. I've only managed a couple of noodle dishes and cold appetizers, but so far, I would say it's promising. Not quite to Shu Feng standard, falls nicely around Yunchuan (now Yunkun) Garden. The Chungking cold spicy noodle, while not spicy for me (gee, I hope I wasn't "whited"), was very complex with a lot of flavors. Sort of like a sweet, less spicy version of the cold noodles at Yunchuan (now Yunkun) Garden. And, no, it wasn't peanut butter or even tahini flavor in these noodles. I want to get back and try more.

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

                        1. re: JThur01
                          echoparkdirt Sep 17, 2011 11:01 AM

                          we need more eyes and tongues on this place. I need to go back as well.

                          1. re: echoparkdirt
                            c
                            condiment Sep 19, 2011 11:24 PM

                            The San Gabriel Valley has many Sichuan-style restaurants. Taste of Chong Qing is certainly one of them.

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