When you think of sausage, Chinese cuisine is probably not what immediately comes to mind. Germany, obviously, then probably Italy. But China has an incredibly rich history of sausage-making. Chinese sausages tend to be much sweeter than sausages familiar to American palates and, as you might expect from a country so large and diverse, there are many regional variations. Here's a breakdown of where to find some regionally-specific sausages in San Gabriel Valley restaurants, listed alphabetically by province.
Hunan cuisine is known primarily for its use of smoked meats and peppers. Lots and lots of peppers. Peppers that produce a heat level well beyond Sichuan. Hunan sausage dishes follow this template, being smoked, then smothered with leeks and an accompanying vegetable. About that smoking. Imagine a deep, heavily smoked meat and then double that. Four Hunan-style sausage dishes can be found at the aptly named Hunan Style Restaurant. Hunan Style Restaurant (CLOSED): 529 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-288-0758.
The presence of German colonists in Shandong Province in the 19th century led to two things. Well, two that are food-related: beer and sausage. Germans founded the Tsingtao brewery and also made sausage a popular snack in Shandong. The only place we've found this regional version is at Rosemead's Beijing Duck House, which, despite the name, is a rare full Shandong-style restaurant. Sausage in Shandong Style is listed as #12 on the menu. Served chilled as an appetizer, the dried sausage has a strong five-spice flavor with a tempered sweetness. Beijing Duck House (CLOSED): 6420 Rosemead Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-286-5508.
Anyone familiar with Sichuan cuisine knows about its spiciness. So it will come as no surprise that sausage from Sichuan Province lives up to that reputation, using chili powder and pepper powder to provide a unique kick. The flavor is reminiscent of a pepper-infused combo of ham and pepperoni, with a dusting of red pepper flakes to provide a finishing touch. There are two places we know of that serve Sichuan-style sausage, one on the western side of the valley and another on the eastern side. Chuan Ma Noodle House (CLOSED): 18438 Colima Road, Suite 31, Rowland Heights; 626-888-6318. Lucky Noodle King (CLOSED): 534 E. Valley Blvd., San Gabriel; 626-573-5668.
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Taiwanese sausage is considered the sweetest of Chinese sausages. At SinBala, a busy Taiwanese snack and drink place, sausages are a specialty — so much so that they're given their own section of the menu. Here they're served individually, with 21 kinds of sauces and toppings to choose from. These range from fruits such as mango or kiwi to garlic, wasabi or chocolate. Yes, chocolate. SinBala also sells their sausages frozen, should you wish to take some home with you. SinBala: 651 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia; 626-446-088; 18489 Colima Rd., Rowland Heights; 626-581-9885.