We went to Szechuan Palace in Agoura Hills last night.
First, this place is REALLY small. It has 3 booths and a banquet with 3 tables. The service was friendly and good. We ordered Tofu Vegetable Soup, Kung Pao Shrimp and Dan Dan Noodles. The food, however, was only acceptable, edible but not great or outstanding. Portions were good sized.
The soup, while a little on thin side, was good but nothing special. The Shrimp and Noodles were unlike any I’ve had at any other Chinese restaurants.
The noodles were in a chicken broth, kinda oily and very few pieces of chicken. I’m used to the noodles being served dry with a chopped chicken sauce. There was no sauce, only the broth. Taste was okay, but again, nothing special. The Kung Pao Shrimp was also served differently, definitely not Szechuan style. I’ve been making and ordering this dish for many many years and this was far from the traditional style. First, on the plus side, there was a good amount of shrimp. However, for the other ingredients: I only found about 4 or 5 peanuts, there were no water chestnuts, celery, bell or red pepper, scallions or carrots, items found in traditional Kung Pao. It included bamboo shoots, which I’ve never seen in this dish (and don’t particularly like). Also, I did not taste any Sichuan peppercorns, hoisin or oyster sauce which give Kung Pao its distinctive flavor. The dish was edible, it just wasnt' the way I expected it.
The last observation is not about the food. Since the place is so small, you could hear every conversation in the room. We arrived about 6:00pm and only one booth was occupied by 3 young Chinese ladies. While we were there, two families, each with 2 children in tow, and another couple came in. Needless to say, the volume of the background noise increased exponentially. We understand and accept a certain amount of background noise in a restaurant, especially in a family place. But, as I said, being so small it was like dining with everyone.
We will not be back. While the location is much better for us, we’ll continue to make the trek out to Newberry Park and go to the Sesame Inn. In a totally different class and well worth the drive.