I had visited Szechwan in Lomita for dim sum and found it tolerable but not noteworthy - not bad, but nowhere near the selection of Sea Empress in Gardena, not to mention Chinatown or Monterey Park. A friend who loves the place insisted on meeting there for dinner, and I braced myself for another mediocre South Bay Chinese experience.
I was pleasantly surprised when the person who had dragged me there suggested that I check the chalkboard specials before even opening the menu. A place that isn't just cooking by rote? Something could be up here. I was intrigued by a fish filet stuffed with seafood and steamed, but one member of our party wouldn't eat crab and vetoed it. There were some other items that we did order from that menu - eggplant with fresh basil and a vegetable they transliterated from Chinese as "A-Grade" sir-fried with garlic. We also ordered kung pao chicken, hot and sour soup, shrimp with Szechwan sauce, and fried roast duck with Peking-style buns.
The soup was OK, the boneless duck was good but not great - a substantial portion of tasty meat with buns, scallion shavings, and dipping sauce. The other dishes were far above the standard - the A-grade a crispy green vegetable that tasted vaguely like spinach, the eggplant with basil a milder version of the Thai favorite with Chinese seasonings. I had not expected to like this place very much, but will return with friends who have more adventurous tastes to try more.
The restaurant is worn but clean - service was unusually good, and when I started asking about the specials the server seemed very happy that one of their non-Chinese patrons was interested.
Address is 2107 Pacific Coast Highway, Lomita. The blackboard is not near the front door, but in the middle of the restaurant near the rest rooms, and some of the items are printed only in Chinese. Parking is shared with Big Lots next door.
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