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Ask Mr. Gold 

Thursday, Jan 22 2004
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QUESTION: You’ve hinted at authentic Sichuan restaurants in Monterey Park. Could you please provide more information about these? I am looking for some good ones. Thanks.

—Ingrid Mok

ANSWER: There is almost a Sichuan-restaurant neighborhood in Monterey Park at the moment, with at least three restaurants ready to sear your palate with the four-pronged heat characteristic of Chungking and Chengdu: pickled chiles, dried chiles, and handfuls upon handfuls of red dried chiles, as well as the fearsome, tongue-mauling onslaught of the prickly ash. All of the restaurants feature glassed-in cold tables at the front of the restaurant, from which you may select appetizer plates composed of smoked chicken; brisket and tripe in chile oil; chopped wild greens; fried peanuts; sliced tendon; or any of a dozen other things. All are decent places to get dan dan mien, red-oil dumplings, or the innocuous-sounding water-boiled fish, which may be the hottest dish of all.

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At the moment, my favorite of the restaurants is probably Chung King, if only for its awesome dish of chicken fried with chiles. Best Sichuan, up the street a couple of blocks, has a nice touch with seafood, and the cold tripe is great. Yunan Garden is, of course, nominally a Yunnan-style restaurant — don’t miss the classic (if intentionally bland) crossing-the-bridge noodles — but the menu is mostly Sichuan, and the cooking is almost refined. (Hua’s Chinese Delicacies is another ostensibly Yunnan-style restaurant, with a long list of Sichuan noodle dishes.) And after a movie at an Alhambra multiplex, you could do worse than Oriental Pearl, which is a little less accomplished than the other restaurants mentioned, but is a far sight better than the sticky, icky Chinese restaurants that usually coexist with vast film complexes. Chung King, 206 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 280-7430; Best Sichuan, 230 N. Garfield Ave., No. 12, Monterey Park, (626) 572-4629; Yunan Garden, 301 N. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 571-8387; Hua’s Chinese Delicacies, 921 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia, (626) 445-2755; Oriental Pearl, 621 W. Main St., Alhambra, (626) 281-1898.

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