Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Xian Kitchen 西安食府 in City of Industry, CA

Small restaurant that opened back in 2014, serving up regional cuisine from Shaanxi Province (陝西) in North Central China, where hand-pulled noodles are popular, as well as flavor-forward dishes incorporating the use of ingredients such as cumin, garlic, green onions, dried red chiles, and vinegar.  Bordering the Sichuan Province to the north, it’s understandable why the last 2 pages of their menu feature many of the dishes you would find in Sichuan cuisine such as Mapo Tofu, Eggplant in Garlic Sauce, and Kungpao Chicken.  However, the most noteworthy dishes are the rou jia mo (肉夹馍, the Chinese style hamburger of baked buns made with fermented dough), lamb pao mo (羊肉泡馍, a lamb soup with rice vermicelli and pieces of bread made from fermented dough, often described as Chinese pita bread), and qi shan ground pork noodle (岐山臊子面, made with a rich, bright red broth using red chiles and vinegar.  Noodles, bean curd, egg, and green onions were featured in this noodle soup.)

The most of the dishes we ordered were delicious and quite distinct in flavor.  Popular with our table were the lamb pao mo, rou jia mo, and the qi shan ground pork noodles.  Quite a hearty dish was the Big Plate Chicken, which is a Uyghur dish (Xinjiang being not too far west of Shaanxi) made of hand pulled noodles, sautéed chicken, fried potatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic and cumin.  The dish was so big, it can easily feed up to 5 on its own.  Even a simple dish as stir fried cabbage with dried red chiles and black vinegar came out to be very flavorful.

Unfortunately, dumplings were the weakest part of the meal.  Though they’re popular in Southern and Northeastern China, the ones offered here were just not well seasoned at all.  Quite bland.

Service is here is “no frills” and may come across rude and flippant, but that’s how most Chinese restaurants are that don’t specifically cater to a Western audience.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge.


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

Spicy Sichuan Goodness at Hip Hot at Atlantic Times Square in Monterey Park

Opened in early 2015, Hip Hot introduced SGV to another popular dish, the Crab Pot.  However, they offer the spicy dishes that many of us have come to love over the years, in addition to some different variations of dishes we normally see at other Sichuan restaurants.  One of them is the Squid with Pickled Chili, which, when ordered as is, comes out super spicy that I was only able to handle one pice of squid, while I was cooling my mouth off with gulps of Sour Plum Juice.

Flavors here make them one of my more favorite Sichuan restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

They also specialize in seafood, offering King Crab, Sea Urchin, and Abalone, to name a few.

Unfortunately, their Szechuan Style Stir-Fry Chicken has been modified to appease the palates of those not in tune with Sichuan cuisine.  End result are more Americanized dishes with toned down heat levels.   However, they may be able to still make the original version of their Szechuan Style Stir-Fry Chicken, if you were to pre-order with at least 1 day’s notice so that they can prep the ingredients and have them ready to fire up as soon as you arrive for your meal.

Payment is either all in cash or all on 1 credit card.  They can’t do multiple credit cards, nor split the bills for both payments by credit card(s) and cash.

Spicy Beef Jerky (Complimentary testing dish)

Black Wood Ear (Fungus) with Chili Pickle
Fuqi Feipian (Cold Braised Beef and Beef Tripe in Chili Oil)
Dongguan Style Green (Mung) Bean Jelly (Noodles)
Szechuan Style Cold Noodle (with Chicken)
 Szechuan Style Fish Pot (Filets with Lotus Root, Young Bamboo Shoots, Wood Ear Fungus)
Dry-Fried French Beans with Minced Pork

Squid with Pickle Chili (Super Spicy)
Stir-Fried Chicken (Boneless) with Serrano Chiles (Off Menu Item)
Stir-Fry Chinese (Mountain) Yam (with Kabocha Squash, Wood Ear Fungus, and Pea Shoots)
Sichuan Crispy Duck (Xiangsu Yazi) (Off Menu Item)
Twice Cooked Pork (Requested to be made spicy)
Stir-Fry Crab with House Pickle Chili (Over Potatoes, Bell Peppers)
Szechuan Sitr-Fry Chicken with Dry Chili (aka La Zi JI, Spicy Chongqing Chicken)
(Their famous) Crab Pot

Shouzhua Mutton Chop