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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Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

Knife Cut Noodling at Shanxi Noodle House in City of Industry

In the East San Gabriel Valley, more and more Asian restaurants are popping up all over from La Puente to Walnut, and from Northern Chinese cuisine to Burmese.  Shanxi Noodle House isn’t a newcomer.  They’ve been in business for over about 2 years now, only having been discovered by me, when a friend and I needed to find a place to grab a bite while on our way home from checking out the superblooms along the 15 Freeway in Lake Elsinore back in March of this year.  Searching through Yelp, we stumbled upon their listing, which has been awarded a good number of 4 and 5 star reviews from Yelpers, and decided to give them a try.   The result was enjoying the wonderful layers of flavors as well as different textures in the dishes we tried, particularly of the Crispy Potatoes with Oat Flour Noodle Rolls.  After that night, we came back for more.  The noodles and dumplings are all house made, and the knife cut noodles are made to order.

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


SHUTTERED: Authentic Northern Chinese and Sichuan Food in The Valley (San Fernando Valley)

This family-owned restaurant serves some of the best Chinese food in the San Fernando Valley, if you choose the right dishes.  The family is from Henan in Northern China, just east of the Shaanxi province where the ancient capital of China (Xi’an) is located.  The mother’s expertise in making dumplings from scratch as well as hand-pulled noodles is one of the reasons this place’s food is a stand-out.

San Jian Bao (we had the Pan Fried Buns filled with ground pork and napa cabbage), Potstickers (we ordered the Lamb & Zucchini, but she was out of zucchini and created potstickers from ground lamb and Chinese chives), Wontons in Spicy Sauce (the sauce included peanuts, which is different from the Wontons in Chile Oil we see in most other Szechuan restaurants), and of course, Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings).

Her hand-pulled noodles are used in her Spicy & Sour Beef Noodle Soup, according one of my BFFs, is the best he’s ever had, even better than those served in the San Gabriel Valley, and in Flushing Chinatown in Queens, NY.  Her house-made knife cut noodles are used in her Lamb Noodle Soup, and I loved the firmness and chewiness of the noodles.

Add a couple of well made Szechuan dishes, and my group declared this place a winner.

Website:  http://www.tampagardenchinesedelight.com/

Wontons in Spicy Sauce:

Lamb Noodle Soup:

Sauteed Spicy Sour Napa (Cabbage):

Spicy & Sour Beef Noodle Soup:

Xiao Long Bao/Soup Dumplings:

Eggplant, Potato, Green Bell Pepper:

San Jian Bao (Pan Fried Buns filled with ground pork and napa cabbage, lighter and thinner bun wrap than most other places):

Cold Spicy Chicken:

Pan Fried Dumplings/Potstickers:

Szechuan Spicy Fish:

Beef Chow Fun (Dry Style):

The best dishes are hidden within the menu.  Look beyond these popular favorites for a much better culinary experience.