Resto Review: Monterey Park’s Yunchuan Garden Restaurant
The closest I’ve come to Sichuan cuisine on a regular basis is kung pao chicken and mapo tofu, and I’ve never once knowingly tasted Yunnan cuisine. Yunchuan is a pretty basic Chinese joint and nothing high end, specializing in Yunnan and Sichuan style dishes. But there is a proliferation of waitresses waiting to serve you (immediately reminding me of Asian countries, where more people than necessary are hired to do just about the same thing. I guess it lowers the unemployment rate.)
We ordered the vegetable rice noodle soup, which is pretty basic: just medium-sized rice noodles and greens. The soup itself is extremely salty (think sea water) and spicy. Meticulous and paced chewing was required for me to eat this without choking. The spiciness from the chili oil wasn’t immediately felt on my tongue, but my nose, which reacted rather noisily.
Next was Yunnan style minced pork with preserved vegetables, a big heap of finely ground pork and preserved sour veggies. This salty dish was oddly reminiscent of ethnic Shan (an ethnic minority living near the Burmese-Chinese border) dishes, because of its use of ground pork and mustard greens (called chinba in Burmese). I could seriously imagine myself eating this with ground peanuts and flat rice noodles and calling it “Shan noodles.” I guess you could call it geographic cuisine continuity, the key term of the day. XD The menu gave this two “chili peppers” out of three (their spiciness scale), but it didn’t give me a kick.
My favorite dish came last: Sichuan style twice-cooked pork. Thinly sliced pieces of belly pork, with chopped bell peppers. I couldn’t get enough of it because the meat was so luscious and juicy. I usually discard the fat when I eat belly pork, but it was so chewy and meat-like that I couldn’t help but eat that too. It was cooked to perfection.
I know I’ll be back to try more items in their huge menu.