There's more great news for spicy food lovers. The San Gabriel Valley has always been a hot spot, and several recent openings have upped the heat level in the area. Now, from the folks that brought you Hunan Chilli King comes Chiliking Family in San Gabriel. The new restaurant is located in Prospect Plaza, about a half-mile west of the original Hunan Chilli King.
Interestingly, the opening also means that arguably the two best known Hunan-style restaurants in the SGV now have nearby second locations featuring different concepts and different menus. First, John Huang of Hunan Mao opened Noodles King, which has a menu of Changsha-style noodle dishes and Hunan-style "fast food." Now the owners of Hunan Chilli King have joined in with Chiliking Family, focusing on noodles, rice bowls and appetizers.
There's little duplication on the smaller 96-item menu, which is rounded out with a selection of hot pots and soups. Yes, 96 items is small when compared to the more than 220 items on the menu at Hunan Chilli King. Rice bowls come in small or large and soups as cups or bowls, a move seemingly aimed at the area's ultra-competitive lunch market.
A variety of meats are available in the dishes, including some offal or frog, the latter either in a hot pot or pickled in a rice bowl. Of course, steamed Hunan-style fish head can be ordered in a hot pot or with noodles and vegetable dishes are also on the menu.
Which brings us to appetizer #40, fry mixed green pepper. We've written about Spicy With Spicy, aka Hot Over Spicy, which is perhaps the hottest, spiciest dish we've encountered. This is Hot Over Spicy dispensing with the ground pork, leaving just the variety of chopped peppers mixed with leeks, scallions, ginger and black bean sauce, all drizzled with chili oil for good measure. In potentially great news for vegetarian heat lovers, we're told it's only vegetables, though one should always doublecheck Chinese vegetable dishes.
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Upon ordering #40, we attempted to allay the warning and concern of our waitress by saying: "I like big spicy" in Chinese. We also confess we nearly met our match with this dish, wonderful as it is. Chiliking Family allows a choice of four levels of heat: Not Hot, Mild, Chilli and Chilli King. Our waitress explained there was no way to lessen #40 but other menu items are milder, should you wish to go that route. You'll notice Beijing yogurt on every table. There's a reason for that. There's also a boba joint with milk tea just across the plaza as a Plan B.
Chiliking Family is open until 10:30 p.m., with plans to stay open until 2 a.m. should you want searing Hunan-style heat late some summer night. Just look for the logo of a salivating, winking head wearing a pepper as a hat, or is that hair? Oh, and remember the Beijing yogurt.