Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Spice is Right at Chung King, San Gabriel

Chinese bacon with garlic greens. Mmmm...pork. All photos by Jill of Eye Level Pasadena.

Crispy rice with four delicacies (chicken, fish, mushrooms, ?). At your table, the waitress pours the brothy concoction over the fried chewy rice squares. Eat up quickly before the rice gets too soggy.

After just a few bites of the fried chicken with chilis, we were all sweating and another round of Tsingtaos was promptly ordered, but none of us could keep our chopsticks away from this addictive crispy, salty dish at Chung King, a Sichuan restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley.

fried peanuts and tiny fish (back), pig ear (front)

Other than the beer, the platter of fried peanuts with tiny fish helped mitigate the heat. This was one of multiple cold snacks available--your waitress takes your order for the hot dishes, but you head to the counter in the back of the room for a plate of pre-dinner munchies. The cold pig ears went over like a lead balloon at our table, but the peanuts and salt-laden tiny fish flew into our mouths.

Jonathan Gold, the fabled restaurant guru of the LA Weekly describes Chung King's Sichuan cuisine as such:
The Western Chinese cooking, sizzling with four or five different kinds of chiles, vibrating with the flavors of extreme fermentation and smacked with the cooling, numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns, lies halfway between dentist’s-chair Novocain and the last time you could afford a lot of blow. It never fails to leave visitors exhausted, narcotized and happy, drenched in foul, garlic-laced sweat.
Though a stranger to the numbing effects of blow, I certainly left in a spice-induced daze. Not a bad way to start the weekend. There's a small parking lot out back, and street parking is plentiful. Expect a short wait on a Friday night, and the place seemed to close up shop around 10 or so. Also, it's cash only.

Chung King
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA


KT said...

I don't think I could do the pig's ear either, but that chicken & chile looks awesome.

I'm in love with Jonathan Gold. I love this: "flavors of extreme fermentation" (mmmmmm! fermenty!) and I love how he says "the last time you could afford a lot of blow," so matter-of-factly, as if, since this is L.A., we all have candy bowls filled with the stuff on our desks. He's dating himself though. My candy bowl is filled with Oxycontin.

Anita said...

oooh, that chicken looks like the Chong Qin (aka Chung King) Hot Chicken at our favorite Szechuan place in Seattle.

Chubbypanda said...

Looks great, although they should have sliced the pig ear for you.

bootsi said...

Great pictures! That bacon dish looks great with a side of rice! lol

Tom said...

Good Job! :)

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