SGV: Getting My Spicy Food on at Yun Chuan Garden
Last month, LA Weekly published the 10 Best Eats in Monterey Park (which also features a boat noodles pic I took from Hoy-Ka) and I saw Yun Chuan Garden (called Yunkun in the LAW article- there’s been a name change) was listed. I’m always up for a challenge so I grabbed a friend to check it out.
There were three adults and a toddler but we ordered as if we were an army. Actually, the bulk of the food was really for the two of us– we can’t expect the baby to eat spicy food, right?
First we checked out the cold appetizer table (like a steam table but with cold side dishes). If you order to go, they’ll charge you there but if you eat in, it’s tallied at the end. Yun Chuan’s was very elaborate. You get a dish with three sides but I really wanted four things and so we ended up with two plates of three sides. Got that math? Okay, here we go- we got seaweed, tendon, pickled mustard greens with soybeans, tripe, pig ear and spicy tofu. Actually, everything was slicked with a fiery red chili sauce except for the seaweed and pickled greens. We barely got these back to the table when our food started hitting our table.
My friend always orders the wontons in chili sauce if she sees it on the menu. These were well-stuffed with meat, plump and most importantly, heated up beautifully the next day when I had them for breakfast.
My favorites of the cold apps were the pig ear, tripe and seaweed. The tendon was good and also came with a firmer sliced tofu. Yun Chuan’s spicy tofu wasn’t as good as Yun Noodle’s in Arcadia. I found I needed the pickled mustard greens just for contrast from all the chile-laden food we were having.
My friend’s husband ordered the cubed fried chicken in spicy sauce which turned out delightfully to be fried chicken. He described it as eating chicken skin. I had a tiny bite and agreed it was well-fried. We imagined if collected all the chile peppers from the plate and then ground them up into a paste, it would be really awesome to add to other dishes.
I was pretty excited to get a water-boiled dish. It’s not really boiled in water but proteins cooked in the flaming hot oil and sauce on a lot of the other food. There was even a dish on the menu called “spicy with spicy.” We didn’t get that. We stuck to dishes with two chile peppers or less (about medium spicy). I picked out fish and chicken for the water-boiled dish and at first it seemed like a lot of food. The version over at nearby Chung King is served in a shallow dish. Then I figured out the proteins were lying on a bed of chopped napa cabbage. Ah, we got suckered. Still, I enjoyed it. It was mostly fish which was fine by me. Eat this with white rice. Plenty of white rice.
My friend wanted to get the boiled fatty pork slices in chili sauce which turned out to be cold, boiled bacon. Pass. I didn’t even take the leftovers home much less finish my one slice at the restaurant. There were so many more interesting things here.
I always want a veg to go with a meal and picked out the eggplant with pork sauce. It was one of my favorite dishes that day. It went well eaten side by side with the mabo tofu.
This mabo tofu didn’t seem to have any ground pork in it which was fine considering I ate it with the eggplant. I was eating eggplant/ tofu for the next three days. Great value.
For kicks, we also got the dan dan noodles. It was a subtle peanut flavor and actually quite nice. I’d like the noodles to be a bit firmer but otherwise, I’d order this again.
The menu at Yun Chuan is very extensive so it would take another 3 or 4 trips to order everything I want to try. I normally don’t order things like kung pao chicken but at a proper Sichuan dish is spectacular. I’m willing to bet they make a good one.
Yun Chuan Garden301 N Garfield Ave., Ste D102, Monterey Park, CA 91754 — (626) 571-8387
© The Minty 2013