Kearny Mesa and neighboring Clairemont in San Diego continue to collect regional Chinese restaurants with such regularity that I no longer feel compelled to consume Chinese food exclusively in my nearby San Gabriel Valley. Village Kitchen is one of the latest entries, a Hunan-style restaurant located in a strip mall called Diane Village.
Yellow walls sport black and white flower photos. You’ll also find birdcages, a Christmas tree, and red paper lanterns by the entrance. Menu items are far more interesting. Particularly “microblogging crazy raw noodles,” “rock ‘n roll pig feet” and “the Bandits in Xiangxi chicken.”
The Bandits in Xiangxi chicken ($15.75) was a great dish to split, a bubbling pot purportedly named for perpetrators in a heinous 1939 kidnapping, though my brief online research may have been apocryphal. However, I can say with certainly that tender hacks of bone-in chicken joined a lake of ginger, garlic, dried chilies, and scallions, which cooked down until the flavor flared. The capper: a cilantro thatch. Order steamed white rice to tamp down the intensity.