Chong Qing Special Noodles - Official Review Thread


#1

Second visit, ordered #6 (Mouth Water Chicken), #22 (Style Handmade Noodles…their version of Youpo Noodle) and of course my beloved #41 (Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken).

The service at this place is awful. Tables aren’t cleared, water isn’t refilled unless you ask, finished dishes aren’t cleared, and the waiter didn’t understand what a “check” or “bill” was until another customer overheard and translated into Mandarin for him. And while the restaurant was pretty full when I went, this had nothing to do with it because the 2 servers had a lot of down time where they themselves were not busy as a result of the biggest flaw with this restaurant:

THE KITCHEN IS SLOW AS FUCK!!

After I placed my order, the waitress told me “because a lot of people were ordering food” it would be 20 minutes before I got mine. Well… over 30 minutes later I got my chicken.

On the plus side, the chicken was clearly freshly made because despite being billed as a cold dish, it was still warm-to-room temperature. It LOOKS like the original dish as prepared by Best Noodle House, but somehow the flavors were muted. Definitely less sichuan peppercorns, but something else was missing, too. I ate it, but it wasn’t as amazing as the dish had been before, back at the other restaurant where it took mere minutes to be served cold and flavorful. I’d say it took me about 10 or so minutes to eat the dish.

Then the waiting game resumed. About another 10 or so minutes later, I received my noodles.

First thoughts: bigger portion and much more vegetables, and this time there was the welcome addition of bean sprouts! I also saw a healthy dollop of garlic paste on top. Mixing everything together, I was really looking forward to eating this dish. Unfortunately, the flavors were again muted. Not enough vinegar, and a much lighter hand on all the spices in general. Noodles were good, and while I think Best Noodle House still has a better bowl of house-made noodles, these were close.

I hadn’t yet finished the large bowl of noodles when the fried chicken arrived, and boy did that look good! First few bites, though, were a bit bland, but after spilling some of the chilis on the table because they were piled so high, I decided to redistribute the food on the plate. After doing so, every bite was glorious and just as I’d remembered it from before!

The waitress was apologetic about the wait throughout the entire meal, but I still had to flag someone down to refill my water several times.

Pricing is the same as before.

One note, though: I was seated at the busted booth right in front of the counter. As a party of 1, whatever, but there were 2 other booths that should have been available on my arrival, except the tables were never bussed from whoever had been dining there previously. The bench across me contained a cardboard box filled with supplies and was never removed, and I had to ask for the condiments to be placed on the table, too. What was unique about this booth, though, was that every time they went through the swinging doors into or out of the kitchen, I could see that the kitchen looked FILTHY and a large stack of broken-down cardboard boxes, also FILTHY, were piled almost to the ceiling against a back wall. :fearful:

My hypothesis is that while this chef has some talent for crazy good flavor profiles, his hubris in opening his own restaurant shows because he lacks the necessary restauranteur skill of efficienct kitchen operations and expediting, and he is subsequently overwhelmed, causing quality issues with the seasoning of the dishes he’s trying to rush out. Instead of 2 useless waitstaff, they could get by with one decent server for the size of the place, instead focusing on hiring a sous chef or something to assist in the kitchen.

Overall, the people at Best Noodle House are attentive and friendly, and they for sure know how to run a restaurant. It’s too bad the chef at Chong Qing Special Noodles decided to split and go it alone because while he has a lot of potential with his magical flavor profiles when he’s “on,” the rest of the restaurant equation is lacking and we now have one okay (Chong Qing Special Noodles) and one good (Best Noodle House) restaurant to choose between instead of a single excellent restaurant. It’s a damn shame in my opinion, but at least I still know where to get my Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken!!

:star::star: (out of 5)

Edited 24 June 2017: Link to First Review


#2

I think your premise is correct. Reminiscent of when the executive chef at Empress Pavilion purchased the restaurant a decade ago, a different case since he took over a highly successful operation. As such, according to the story going around, it took a few years for mismanagement to finally run the place into the ground. But you’re right about the Chong Qing Special Noodle chef’s talents. I had the sweet and sour fish, which may have been the best version of that dish I’ve eaten.


#3

So can you capture the magic by going here during slow hours? Or are they constantly booked?


#4

No, the chef just cannot run a kitchen. My first visit was at a slow time, and it took an inordinate amount of time for dishes to come out then, too.

The Gele Mountain Fried Chicken was actually better the 2nd time around, but between the filthy kitchen and poor service, I don’t know if I’ll be coming around for anything other than my fried chicken.


#5

So sad. The saliva chicken used to be amazing.


#6

I just ate at Best Noodle House again, and while the noodles are far superior there, I didn’t order the Mouth Water Chicken this time. Next time, though, I will.


#7

Just had a nice meal here for lunch. The mouth water chicken tastes virtually the same as the first 6 or so times I had it prior at best noodle house before the chef left, no loss of quality imo, and they give it free if your party has 3 or more people.

The dan dan mian was similar, but balance seemed a bit off compared to best noodle house. There was way too much actual noodle, so it felt like a much heavier dish.

The hand pulled tomato egg noodle was alright, the sauce n tomatoes taste great, but there isn’t enough of it. So the noodles soak everything up pretty quickly n it dries out a little.

The dumpling with soup was something nice n light. It was for a person in the group that couldn’t eat spicy, n they seemed to enjoy it.

4 pics from chong qing special noodle followed by a 5th pic of dan dan mian from best noodle house last month for comparison


Btw service is extremely slow. The actual food comes out quickly, but taking orders, getting bowls, water, the check, etc, is pretty slow, and they don’t have enough staff to clean tables n seat people. Hope they figure it out soon


#8

…and yours was cold?


#9

I wouldn’t say out of fridge cold, but it wasn’t warm.


#10

Thanks for the sleuthing @strongoxman. This new place is indeed as awful as you said it was. :frowning:

Comparison on both places in this post.


#11

UPDATE

I was really craving some Dan Dan Noodles after a night of drinking, so I drove to SGV for some quality carbs. I was also craving Gele Mountain Fried Chicken, so I decided to give Chongqing Special Noodles another chance to see if they’ve worked-out their service and cleanliness issues.

Upon walking inside, I see 2 female servers who actually seem to be working (no sign of the owner’s son on hos phone), and the dining room is clean, with tables being bussed quickly enough.

It took a few minutes to place my order, but then I pulled out my stopwatch app to see if the interminable waiting would repeat itself. I have good news: it took just 6 minutes and 39 seconds for my Chongqing Dan Dan Noodle to arrive, and another 3.5 minutes for my Gele Mountain Fried Chicken to arrive.

Both taste just as good as I remembered, but I’m finally glad to see this restaurant has learned how to execute in the kitchen.

Is the food as good as when this chef worked out of Best Noodle House? Not quite with the noodles, but the chicken sure is! If I hadn’t experienced the combined talents of both places, I’d be tempted to issue 5 stars. As it is, we’re at 4.5 stars.

4.5/5 Stars - RECOMMENDED

Photos


#12

this info is dated, but we tried the place in late june, did not experience a problem with the staff nor did we have sanitary issues. IIRC we did notice a difference from best noodle house, but not necessarily better or worse.


#13

Had dinner here on Friday with a couple friends.

Seaweed Salad - not bad.

Cold Steamed Chicken with Hot Sauce - not as interesting as the one back at Best Noodle House, but still pretty good.

Boiled Fish Filets with Hot Sauce - really good.

Chonqing Dan Dan Noodles - excellent! The noodles could’ve used a bit more bite, but the flavors were spot-on.

Shrimp Fried Noodles - would normally not get a dish like this here, but one of my friends wanted a “safe” option :stuck_out_tongue: A few of the shrimp tasted a bit fishy, but the noodles were surprisingly good, especially the “brown sauce”, which was much better than you’d usually get from a more run-of-the-mill American Chinese joint that “specializes” in these kinds of dishes.

Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken - absolutely insane. The dish looks deceptively simple, but the seasoning on this chicken is like crack. Even after we were stuffed I couldn’t stop picking at what remained of this dish.

Not pictured are the Sichuan Style Dumplings - they were good but the dough-to-filling ratio was a little heavy on the dough. Still, the dough itself was not too dense, so they were still tasty.

Bang Bang:

We were going to get dessert at Here’s Looking at You, but they were closing early that day, so we ended up stopping at…

Bumsman Organic Milk Bar

(My friend’s) Lychee/Dragonfruit:

Not great. Flavors were pretty muddled. Very instagrammable, though.

Not pictured:

Matcha (mine): OK. Pretty standard matcha flavor. Wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

Milk (other friend’s): Decent, if unusual. Pretty strong lactic flavor, reminiscent of a heavy cream or something along those lines. Might be worth it if you’re into that sort of thing.


#14

Just got here for my beloved Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken, and also to try the Twice Cooked Pork. The owner’s son is back; he emerged from the kitchen and is now just sitting in a booth playing on his phone, as he seems wont to do :roll_eyes:

UPDATED:

Okay, so service was actually good! Owner’s son did nothing except sit in the booth and play on his phone…but at least it didn’t seem like there was any expectation for him to be doing any work during this visit.

Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken was amazing, as usual. The Twice-Cooked Pork was good! Not amazing, but still good. I want to try more of the menu, and that item was one I’d wanted to try back when the chef was at Best Noodle House, but never got to.


#15

So glad to hear this place is now, er, cleaner-looking. Never had the mouth water chicken at the original place, so glad to hear it’s still pretty good at the new place. Thanks to all who went back so many times (since I personally would’ve probably given up). :smiley:


#16

You guys were right. The chicken at the new place pales in comparison to the old flavor. They were giving it away for free after spending $25 or something like that and the chicken texture was okay but the sauce flavor was flat.