California

Chung King: Tickling (and Numbing) Your Tongue via Szechwan

By Joshua Lurie | September 6, 2009 5 comments
Chung King: Tickling (and Numbing) Your Tongue via Szechwan
Chung King
1000 S San Gabriel Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776
626 286 0298

Date of Visit: August 16, 2009

Chinese Restaurant Los Angeles
Chung King has long been known in the San Gabriel Valley for its mouth-numbing Sichuan food. Thanks to a Jonathan Gold review, I first tangled with Chung King several years ago at the Monterey Park original, and the spice level had me mopping my brow and begging for relief that never arrived. Round Two in San Gabriel with Mattatouille, Pat from Eating LA and other friends wasn’t nearly as spicy as I remembered. Pat was downright disappointed that Chung King skimped on the spice, but for my taste, that led to a more enjoyable dining experience.

The Chung King menu features 137 different dishes, plus Szechwan Flavors Cold Dishes, which reside behind a display case in front of the kitchen. The fairly boring-looking space hosts booths and larger tables with lazy susans. Forget passing to the left. Just spin to win.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
Fried Chicken Cubes with Hot Pepper ($8.99) looked intimidating since the dark meat cubes were buried in scallions and flame-red bird’s eye chilies, which are several times more pungent than the jalapeno on the Scoville scale, but still way less devastating than the jalapeno. I wasn’t in the mood to set any spice records, and these chilies imparted more than enough flavor to the juicy yardbird.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
Sauteed String Green Bean ($6.99) seemed like a tame choice, but they turned out to be terrific, flavored with bits of onion, garlic and crumbled pork.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
Chung King’s offerings can get pretty wild, including sheets of pig kidney ($8.99) that were scored to allow for a flavor infusion from the shower of scallions and multi-colored pickled peppers.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
Boiled Fish Slices in Hot Sauce ($8.99) consisted of luscious halibut fillets submerged in a lip-stinging chile sauce and topped with a hidden cache of scallions and pungent minced garlic.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
Sheets of Chinese Bacon ($9.99) were smoky and salty, almost like a Southern-style country ham, tossed with crunchy turnips and a liberal helping of scallions and leeks.

Chinese Food Los Angeles
We finished with the most ferocious dish of the night: Beef with Tofu in Small Pot ($10.99), loaded with creamy white sheets of tofu, thin strips of beef, crunchy vegetables like cabbage, and of course plenty of chilies. In this case, the chilies completely permeated the broth. There was no way to sidestep the pods, which is possible in a dry dish.

Chung King may no longer be as menacing as it was in the early Oughts, but that’s fine by me.

Comments

  1. I love Chung King, but have never tried any of their hot pots. I will have to change that. Yum!

  2. I agree with the review, but if you’re looking for spicy, my 2 go to spots are: Yunchan Garden in MPK and one in San Gabriel, as well as my personal favorite, Hunan Chilli King (also 2 locations). Let me know if you’d like to check it out one day :)

    • Danny,

      Let’s check out Yunchan Garden soon. I’ve eaten at Hengyang Chilli King in Monterey Park and liked the food, but the flavors were similar. It was basically a shower of yellow chilies and scallions on all three dishes. Is Hunan Chilli King better?

  3. Mmmm…I’d go just for the sheets of Chinese bacon. :)

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