Ruiji Sichuan Restaurant 瑞吉川菜 in Lomita, CA

Ruiji Sichuan Restaurant 瑞吉川菜 in Lomita, CA

Hard to believe that there’s been a true Sichuan restaurant in the South Bay area of Los Angeles (communities south of LAX) for almost 2 years now before I finally discovered them.  The prices here are slightly higher than the Sichuan restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, but the quality of their food pretty much rival the excellent ones in San Gabriel Valley.

The menu is huge and offers a wonderful variety of Sichuan dishes and more.  The dishes offer a good enough of a kick but not to the point where the spiciness would overpower the layers of flavors that exude from every dish from the very first bite.  And while most of the dishes were delicious, there were a couple of under-performing dishes, such as the Corn laced with Salted Egg Yolk and the Wontons in Spicy Chili Oil.  The corn was too sweet and had too much of the salted duck egg yolks dusted over them.  It ate more like a dessert than savory goodness.  The wontons tasted one dimensional, especially from the sauce the wontons were served with.

Other than that, it was a great dinner.  With so many offerings on their menu, we would have to make a couple of return visits in the future.

 

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Sichuan Dinner at GuYi 古亦廚房 in the Brentwood Neighborhood of West Los Angeles

Sichuan Dinner at GuYi 古亦廚房 in the Brentwood Neighborhood of West Los Angeles

The Westside of Los Angeles is becoming a haven for only excellent Chinese restaurants, but specifically, Sichuan food.  A couple of years ago, China’s Meizhou Dongpo opened up their first US location in Century City.  Then GuYi opened up earlier this year, followed by West LA’s Hop Woo adding management and chefs with experience preparing excellent, non-Americanized, Sichuan dishes.  In the near future Sichuan Impression will take over the space where long time Chinese American restaurant Jin Jiang used to reside, in West LA as well.

Though I wasn’t much of a fan of the food at Meizhou Dongpo, it was quite the opposite with GuYi and Hop Woo (both whom have created dishes that are spicy and are packed with indepth flavor).

What a even more surprising about GuYi was that their Sichuan cookery has improved since my first visit back in May.  The dishes were well prepared and seasoned well, offering a good amount of spiciness and mouth-numbingness without the dishes being extremely salty as many other Sichuan restaurants seem to do.

Highlights of our Labor Day dinner at GuYi were the Fish with Green Chiles and the Steamed Chicken in Chili Sauce.  The flavors were outstanding; the spice level, good; and an adequate amount of mouth numbing Sichuan peppercorns used in the dishes.

Because GuYi is located on the west end  of the 3rd Floor of Brentwood Gardens shopping mall, their prices have to be on the higher side in order to compensate for the higher rents they have.  In addition, some of the portions were on the trimmer side. However, the deliciousness of the food made it easy for us to overlook that.

Click on thumbnails to enlarge the photo with captions.

 

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

酸菜魚 Dinner at Tai 2 太二 Chinese Sauerkraut Fish in City of Industry

Sichuan style restaurant that specializes in spicy whole fish cooked in a spicy broth made with sour pickled vegetables (aka Chinese sauerkraut), dried red chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns.  The dish is can be quite spicy depending on the level of heat you choose.  We went with Medium Spice level, and it was quite spicy for our table.   The Sichuan peppercorns gave that nice numbing effect that somewhat neutralizes the burn from the chiles.  Unfortunately, the dish was quite salty.  In fact, almost all of their dishes were over-seasoned.

The fish used was tilapia.  In our Extra Large sized order, the used 2 loosely filleted tilapia.  I say “loosely filleted” because the skin is not remove, and you would definitely encounter bones that are still inside each chunk of fish meat.  So, eat with care.

Pricing here seemed rather high for the quality of the dishes, and their sizes.  Even a bowl of steamed white rice costs $2 per bowl.

Service here is typical of restaurant from Mainland China.  The staff is nice, but other than serving you your dishes, and provide you with the basics, they don’t do anything extra, such as refilling water glasses.

The best dishes of the night were the chicken feet and the vegetable dishes as well.

We did enjoy quirky English names given for their dishes, almost literal translations from the quirky Chinese names.

Awesome Sichuan at Chongqing Xiao Mian in San Francisco 

Awesome Sichuan at Chongqing Xiao Mian in SF

Sometimes, the easiest way to figure out where to go to grab some good eats is by using Yelp.  At times you’ll find substantive reviews that would draw you to a restaurant, and if you enjoyed your food, then it was a win-win situation.

Such was the case here.  This place was reminiscent of some of the excellent Sichuan places in the San Gabriel Valley, just east of Downtown LA.

We originally wanted to order the Steamed Lamb with Sweet Sticky Rice Pot, but they were of it, along with the beef counterpart.

Food had great flavors, and just spicy enough to create a little sweat and a little numbing sensation (thanks to the cracked Sichuan peppercorns).

This is one place I’d go back the next time I’m in SF, or even Fremont, CA.

Chongqing Xiao Mian

915 Kearny Street

San Francisco, California 94133

Telephone: 415.983.0888

Szechuan Style Mouthwatering Chicken – Bone-In Chicken with Ma La Chile Oil, Bean Sprouts, Scallions, Sesame Seeds and Peanuts
Cumin Lamb Skewers (Menu states 4 per order, but we got 6)
Lamb in Pickled Mustard Greens Noodle Soup
Steamed Vegetables
Chongqing Xiao Mian

The Flavors of Tianjin and Sichuan at Cui Hua Lou in Monterey Park

When I first tried this restaurant about 3 years ago, their store front had Chinese signage with just the word “Szechuan” identifying what kind of cuisine this restaurant serves to English speakers.  However, the English name for this restaurant on their menus was “Cui Hua Lou.”  Yet, the Chinese name of the restaurant is pronounced, “Shí Shàng Kǎo Ba,” meaning Eat on the Bar. Odd.

Nevertheless, this place has been churning out delicious dishes with complex flavors that come together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Some of the dishes do seem to be Sichuan: Water Boiled Fish, Spicy Lamb Stew, Cold Spicy Mung Bean Jelly, Ma Po Tofu, Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Kung Pao Chicken, to name a few. Yet, none of their dishes have too strong of a spicy kick to them, just enough to enhance the flavors of each dish. Perhaps that is drawn from the regional cooking where the owner and his family is from: Tianjin, a region/city located just southeast of Beijing, where they are known for their bold flavored foods, with an emphasis on seafood and lamb.

Let’s just say the combination of the two regions resulted in absolutely delicious food. So good, that one of my friends and I pretty much dine here at least once a month.


Stewed Lamb in Casserole with napa cabbage and mung bean vermicelli

Eggplant in Garlic Sauce
Water Boiled Fish Filet
Kung Pao Shrimp

Cumin Dusted Lamb Skewers (buy 10, get 1 free, as is with all their skewer offerings)

Chicken Wing Skewers

Chicken Hearts and Shitake Mushroom Skewers (mushrooms are brushed with a mildly sweet glaze)

Pan Fried Shredded Potato in Vinegar

Stir Fried Napa Cabbage with Dried Shrimp (odd that they would have this Cantonese dish on the menu)

Sliced Pork Belly in Garlic Sauce 

Cold Sour and Spicy Mung Bean Jelly Noodles

Tianjin Style Pancakes (think of them as Tianjin style English muffins)

Spicy Fish Hot Pot 

Scallions with Noodles, with ground pork

Lamb in Szechuan Sauce

Ma Po Tofu (dusted with grounded Sichuan peppercorns, this one is a knock out!)

Kung Pao Shrimp

Shredded Pork with Cilantro (simple, yet delicious)

Pan Fried Corn