A couple of years ago I had my first experience with Hunan cuisine at Hunan's Restaurant in Alhambra. Overall, it was a tasty foray into this new food and I was looking forward to trying more. Unfortunately, several months later, it burned down, but like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, Hunan's Restaurant re-invented itself as Hunan's Seafood Restaurant and moved from Alhambra to Rosemead.
For my dining group's second return, we opted to share 8 dishes. Of the 8, only one really knocked my socks off, one in a "Damn, this is so hot, my lips are burning" kind of way, but also in a "Damn, this is hot, but it's so good, I can't stop eating it" way. So what's the name of that dish? It's the House Special Lamb Rib with Spicy Sauce. All you have to do is look at it to see why it's so incendiary.
First, the lamb ribs are completely covered with a mound of red peppers and than there are the seeds and I'm talking chili seeds plus the peppercorns. Yikes! At first, I thought everything was for show, but one bite of my lamb rib and I knew that this was one show that wasn't going to have a closing night. It was such a hit at our table, we actually placed another order for it. Suffice to say, we were gluttons for punishment.
As for the other menu items, there was a running theme among some of them that bothered me a lot. For example, the Clams with Black Bean Hot Sauce was the first to land on our table. The slight saltiness of the black bean sauce along with its heat went well with the clams, at least when there were clams. I'd say 1/3, if not more of the shells were empty of clam meat. The House Special Chicken with Hot Sauce paired well with the earthy mushrooms that came with this dish, but the chicken itself was quite bony. Forget "Where's the Beef?" It was more about "Where's the Chicken?"
The Steamed Hunan-Style Fresh Fish that I absolutely was gaga over at Hunan's Restaurant stilled packed lots of flavor punch, but was about half the size of what I had before and like the chicken, the fish was too bony and didn't have enough meat to it. Even as we were digging into the lamb ribs, I almost like using a shovel so that we could find that meaty goodness underneath all the peppers. It wasn't as if I was expecting a lion's portion of food, but how can bony chicken and fish and half-empty clams be acceptable by any restaurant standard unless you're a restaurant that cares more for the bottom line than feeding your customers and making them happy.
As for the rest of our menu for the evening, the Stir-Fried String Bean and Ground Pork was nothing spectacular, but at least, the restaurant was generous with the beans. I found the Steamed Hunan Ham we ordered to be a little too salty for my palate, which is a problem I had with in the past with other dishes that I tried at Hunan's Restaurant. The Boiled Fish with Hot Sauce was a bit of a mystery. It looked like a soup intially, but the "sauce" was actually very oily. Some of the group just ate a little bit of the fish and left it at that. I actually poured that sauce over my white rice and ate the fish with it. The rice became a little greasy; yet, it worked for me.
For the most part, I enjoyed the flavors of the food. Those lamb ribs were spectacular, but for a restaurant to be so spare and scant in the meat portions of some of their dishes, it doesn't serve themselves well and literally, doesn't serve their customers well either. Maybe, I'll make my way back to Hunan Seafood again, but for now, there are still so many other restaurants to check out that it'll probably take another year or two before I do a return visit.
To see pics, go to:
8772 E. Valley Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91772