Return Visit for More Sichuan at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead, CA

Return Visit for More Sichuan at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead, CA

Second dinner here revisiting some of the dishes that we enjoyed during the last dinner and trying a few new dishes as well.  Most of the dishes were excellent.  Aside from the dried red chiles and Sichuan peppercorns, their usage of a chile bean paste (combination of red chiles and broad beans) was what made many of their dishes stand out, particularly with their Szechuan Dumplings.

The chile bean paste also provided a very bold and rich flavor to the broth that was served with their wontons.  Every drop of that broth was devoured.

Their Spicy Cold Jelly (noodles) were good as well.  The only fault with the execution of this dish is the temperature of the jelly.  Would be perfect if the jelly was cold and firm to the bite, but it was room temperature, giving it a less pleasurable taste.

Their Kung Pao Chicken had a great flavor with a hint of sweetness from the sauce, and a bit of crispiness from the flash fry of the chicken cubes.  Wished they had used a better quality of roasted peanuts as the ones in the dish didn’t have the crunchiness I’ve experienced with Kung Pao from other restaurants.

If you want that good smokiness from the Mala flavor (combination of the spiciness from the dried red chiles and the numbing effect from the Sichuan peppercorns), then the Lamb Chops have that.

We ended dinner with what appears to be the only dessert offered on the menu:  Black Sugar Ice Jelly.  Clear gelatin cubes in a slightly sweet broth made with black sugar, which is an unrefined sugar that has a darker brown color than brown sugar, and fermented rice that floats on top of the broth.  Nice palate cleanser and very refreshing.

If decide to eat at Best Noodle House, bring CASH, or arrange to pay them via PayPal or Venmo.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the photo.

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Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Another Sichuan Feast at Hop Woo 合和 in West LA

Came back for a hedonistic feast with a group of about 22.  This time, we wanted to sample more dishes on their Sichuan menu, as well as offering a couple of familiar Cantonese dishes to give our palates a rest from the barrage of spicy, mouth numbing food.  And in this meal we got quite a bit of that numbing quality from the Sichuan peppercorns used in the Boiled Fish with Rattan Peppers, and Rock Cod Fish.

Food was excellent as before, but many in our group enjoyed the shrimp, cauliflower and eggplant dishes a lot.

So glad that the former owner of Meet in Chengdu in Monterey Park sold off the restaurant in order to join forces at Hop Woo, bringing with him one of his better chefs.

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

Sichuanese and Cantonese Food at Hop Woo Restaurant 合和 in West LA

I can remember when Hop Woo first opened on the Westside.  It was around 2000, and I was working for a solo practitioner/attorney in Bel Air at the time.  I discovered them when I was running errands in the area.  At that time, much like their sister restaurant in Chinatown, they were serving solid Hong Kong style Cantonese food, as well as offering a deli section with roast pork, BBQ pork, roast duck and soy sauce chicken to name a few.  However, when the interest plateaued over the years, so has the quality of the food.  And with that, the crowds became smaller at nights and weekends.

Recently, noticing the Los Angelinos’ craze for authentic Sichuanese cuisine, a new manager brought in a chef who specialized in preparing popular Sichuan dishes, and the result, from word of mouth, was packed dining rooms full of Chinese expats who work in the area or work/study at UCLA.

When ordering the Sichuanese dishes, ask specifically for the Sichuan 四川 menu, a paper menu, separate from the regular menu.  When ordering dishes such as Mapo Tofu or Kung Pao Chicken, which appear on both menus, indicate you want the Sichuan menu preparation, so that you don’t end up with the Americanized version.

The highlight of the menu is the Spicy Chicken (口水雞, cold chicken in spicy chile oil), where the meat is moist and silky, the type of chicken meat you expect in Hainan Chicken, but only now, it’s drenched in a bath of red chile pepper oil with sesame seeds.  Add Sichuan peppercorns, and you have an amazing dish that tingles you mouth nicely.

Their other dishes are quite good as well, especially when you ask them to reduce the amount of salt used in the preparation of the Sichuan dishes.  Sichuanese and Hunanese restaurants in the US, for some reason, use a lot of salt in their dishes.  Sometimes it enhances the Ma-La 麻辣 flavor (balance of the numbing sensation from the Sichuan peppercorns (or Ma 麻) and the spiciness from the dried red chile peppers (or La 辣).  Sometimes, after the spicy burn settles, it’s just salty.  Asking them to cook with reduced salt seemed to have solved that issue for us, though I wonder with the reduce salt, if it might have altered the flavors somewhat at all…

One disappointment has been the lack of Spicy Cold Jelly (Noodles).  It’s never been available every time I’ve eaten there in the last 3 months.    Oh, and parking here is a bitch.  Arrive early to find parking in the streets in the area.

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

 

Szechuan Chef 川揚軒 in San Gabriel, CA

Szechuan Chef 川揚軒 in San Gabriel

I first dined here 2 1/2 years ago when it was still called Szechuan Chef in English, but it’s Chinese name was “醉成都.”  First time back after 2 years, I was surprised to see new signage out front with a new Chinese name, “川揚軒.”  Generally, when this happens to a restaurant, it can indicate that it has gone through a change in ownership.

This dishes we ordered on this night were excellent.  They weren’t shy about using the Sichuan peppercorn as the effects of it hit a few of us hard resulting in coughing spats.  Sometimes in order to offset the spiciness level of the food, more salt will be used.  That was the case with the Mapo Tofu.  After the initial burn from the chili peppers and Sichuan peppercorns, the dish became rather salty.  The other dishes were more balanced.

The dish the table couldn’t get enough of was the Dry Pot Cauliflower.  Cooking the cauliflower with fresh Chinese bacon gave a bit of smoky flavor to the dish that made it stand out from the rest.

The House Special Fish Fillet in Hot Sauce had a mixture of green and orange chili peppers, as well as an abundance of Sichuan peppercorns, which gave a nice tingling burn with every bite.

A table of 8 of us shared 10 dishes, and the bill came out to only $15 per person (with tax and 20% gratuity included).

As always, click on the photo to enlarge it for better viewing.

Delicious Sichuan Fare at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead

Delicious Sichuan Fare at Best Noodle House 重慶小面 in Rosemead

A true hole-in-the-wall found on the eastern end of the city of Rosemead where Valley Boulevard and Mission Road intersects, where the food is mouth-numbing from the aggressive use of Sichuan peppercorns as well as the spiciness from the dried Sichuan red chili peppers and chili oil.  Then tastes the layers of flavors found in each dish, and you have a delicious meal, and for me, it’s some of the best Sichuan food in the Los Angeles area, and at a price point that’s lower than many of the well known Sichuan restaurants such as Chengdu Taste and Szechuan Impression.

Place is CASH ONLY, and their servers speak Mandarin, Cantonese and English.

 

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

Soft-Opening:  Chef’s Tasting Menu at Chengdu Impression

I read about Chengdu Impression’s soft-opening on EaterLA.com.  Chengdu Impression (not to be confused with Chicago’s Chengdu Impression, which is unrelated) is a restaurant chain in China, that, like Meizhou Dongpo and Hai Di Lao, has opened its first location in the United States.  CI is known for being a more upscale Sichuan restaurant, providing an elegant and tastefully designed and decorated space for diners to enjoy elevated versions of Sichuan favorites such as Kung Pao Shrimp, Ma Po Tofu, and Fish with Pickled Green Peppers.

The service here is very attentive and polite, with a majority of the staff being bilingual (Mandarin and English) and even trilingual (Mandarin, Cantonese and English).  They have some issues to work on, such as the timing of the service of each course (at times they were ready to serve the next course just as soon as half of the table finished with the current course).

The food itself is a good representation as to the style of the Sichuan dishes they serve, and it was tasty, with some dishes packing a good bit of heat.  At $45 per person plus tax and gratuity, it seemed to be a good bargain for those who are accustomed to tasting menus from having dined at the likes of Maude, Patina, or even Papilles.  But for those who mainly dine at Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley, the price is a bit high for the amount of food served.

The tasting menu is being offered during dinner hours and on weekends.  A separate lunch menu is available only during weekdays, and that’s where you have the ability to order a la carte as well as being able to try dishes that are not featured in the tasting menu.  I will definitely go back for that.

Chengdu Impression, 21 East Huntington Drive, Arcadia, California 91006, Telephone: (626) 462-9999.  No website as of this posting.  Generally open from 11:30 am to 2:00pm and 5:3opm.  Call for exact hours.  Parking in the rear.  Reservations highly recommended.