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.
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.
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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