They were qutie good. Service was excellent. The owner/waitress was serious about J Gold's review. And she was pushing both the shaguo pots and the "fagara" ma la huo guo hotpot. I tried to tell her as kindly as I could that this was interesting but that we weren't in interestid in huo guo but in what they had that was really special ( both in english and in mandarin).
Honestly, for myself i only order huoguo in a place that just does it. They're set up with all the ingredients, with the equipment - at least for ma la huoguo sichuan style. I haven't had the rinsed lamb hotpot at deerfield in years and i know they do other things
SO i'm inconsistent. too bad.
We were worried about crowds. Had decided to go there last week and then gold writes about it la weekly and on chats on evan kleiman. BUt very few people when we got there - (party of 5).
We had dyed in the wool devotees of ChungKING"S dan dan mian. I told them that CHuan yu had better, and we ordered one bowl with meat (hun) and one bowl vegetarian (su). everyone loved it. Those who tried both preferred the meat version.
We had a seaweed salad that was delicious, they don't have a cold buffet like the other sichuan places (chongqing or even YunGui on garfield). I asked about a dish that non-sichuan folks call "guai-wei ji" = strange flavor chicken, a sichuan cold specialty - she had it she said, but called it ma-la ji, in any case, it was great. THe secret for those who are afraid of spice, is use your chopsticks (which you really shouldn't put in your mouth, just drop the food, or eat from the side of the sticks) or the back end of the chopsticks to pick up the chicken and leave as much sauce in the serving bowl as possible. The sauce is to flavor the chicken, it's not soup. It was Delicious.
We had the chaoshour- sichuan wontont. Halfof us liked them - they were mild comparitively, but it was refreshing. We had the pao-cai, home made pickled cabbage, pink colored, very sharp and vinegary and i found it really refreshing ( it's the same characters as for kimchee, although ttha'ts modified as korean paocai (pronounced p'ao- TSai), and this is sichuan paocai.
We had the "water-boiled" shui zhu fish (shui zhu yu), favorite dish of the night. The fish is delicate and yet stronly floavored given the sauce. At chingking it is LOADED with red peppers, here it's more balanced. And there are tons of mustard greens and cabbage in the liquid as well, still a bit crunchy - if it's mustard green, fresh, or zhai-cai, sichuan pickled mustard green, couldn't tell.
One of the party insisted on cong-you-bing, the scallion cake. It was mediocre here. If you really want it, go to Yung HO or any number of ohter places, even 101 noolde express does a decent job.
I was worried that the limited menu might be off-putting for my friends, no sichuan fish-flavored eggplant (yu-xiang qiezi) - no kongpao dishes that I saw, no straight "dry cooked" (gan shao ) dishes although there was an interesting dish Lao Gan Ma style, chicken and i think frong as well - looks like it's cooked in a dice with peppers and then then meat is deep fried, almost breaded. LOoked too heavy for me.
They were marvelous as far as service went once we got past the hotpot push. When we wanted ot order the sweet sesame balls, sichuan style (tang yuan), we were told that they were a little old and maybe it would be better to wait for another time, unless we were sure that we woudln't care. Loved that. even if it was a cover for being out of them, I love that this would be the cover which shows an understainding of the client. Very nice people -= total bill (one can of soda, rest water) - $52 before tip , five people. They do have some cantonese, shandong, and huaiyang dishes (xlb for example - ) so be a little careful ordering. But we loved the meal. thought about going down the street to tasty duck for the apple fritters (ba-si pingguo) but were too content. Enjoyed it, but be warned that it's a small menu.
Lucky Noodle King
534 E Valley Blvd #10, San Gabriel, CA 91776