excellent, thanks chowseeker and strongoxman…i’ll get out there soon…well, i guess i’ll still go to Best…just saw the cleaniness comments
So I was at BNH again this evening, and the lady owner came by my table to tell me that starting next month they’re going to be cooking some new dishes. I couldn’t really get much more, so I asked the waitress with the best English for some help, and she told me that the spicy chicken I love (Gele Mountain Style) will be coming back, maybe with some kung pao and another chicken dish? Apparently someone is coming back to the kitchen? But NOT the chef who left to start Chong Qing Special Noodles. I don’t have more info other than “next month,” and so I would recommend anyone with Mandarin abilities to try and get the complete scoop and report back!
I had the Wontons in Spicy Sauce and the Youpo Noodle with Ground Pork added, and both were fantastic, as always. The staff were quite welcoming, though they definitely noted it’s been a few weeks since I’d been in (shhhhh…don’t tell them I’ve been going to Chong Qing Special Noodles for that Gele Mountain Style Chicken). BUSTED!!
Thanks for the info @strongoxman. Nice sleuthing. I’ll be looking forward to those new dishes.
New menu page with specials:
Of course I ordered the Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken Cubes. I’ll report back after I eat them.
It looks really good! But the flavors are too muted. Needs to be spicier and saltier. There’s an excellent ginger component in this version that I really like, and the green onions are a really nice touch!
Here’s where I need your help: they totally asked me for feedback, and honestly it’s good, but not great. They just need to kick it up a notch or two so it has the same addicting spicy/salty quality to it that their original version (and current version at Chong Qing Special Noodles) had, as well as the boneless version at The Legendary Restaurant.
But their English and my Chinese aren’t able to communicate this nuance well. Can someone more familiar with the preparation of this dish and Mandarin check it out and help Best Noodle House improve? They’re such nice people and I love the other flavor complexities they’ve added to their version of the dish, I just need the spicy and saltiness to be a little bit bolder.
" 味道太淡了。 不夠辣。 不夠咸。 "
Thanks, but I think that part got communicated; where the nuance was lost is RE: what part of the preparation needs more flavor. They asked me if I wanted them to remake it with more spice, but I declined as I think the breading of the chicken is where it’s lacking, but I’m not familiar enough with the preparation of this dish to accurately say… I also think the dried chilis could use some more salt, too.
I think what would be most helpful is if someone here who is more skilled at languages than I and who also tried this dish before the original chef split could give some more specific feedback to the owner lady and staff.
FYI, the new chef who does all the expanded “House Specials” menu items apparently is off sometimes, meaning that menu availability is unpredictable. Today (Tuesday) he was off, and so upon learning all the new menu items I wanted to try weren’t available, I promptly left and drove to Chong Qing Special Noodles instead.
Does one need to call ahead to determine what kind of restaurant Best Noodle House will be each day?
" 老闆娘，帶回以前的廚師, Sergio . "
LOL!! Too funny…
We have experienced that on Tuesday’s as well going back several months.
So it’s a regular Tuesday thing. Okay… well can’t say I understand the mentality of bothering to open on a day when a large chunk of the menu is just not available and not having this fact published/advertised.
I forgot to check if they’re still closing on Thursdays now, too.
Good food, nice people, but I certainly hope the owner has more in business dollars coming in than she is losing in terms of business sense.
If she had more business sense, she wouldn’t own a restaurant.
Okay, now why’s that?
Restaurants are a tough business, even for those with strong business acumen.
Just went today and got the saliva chicken and the yobin noodles (labeled as fire noodle in English).
I think the saliva chicken has been well documented, spicy salty, numbing and peanuty and delicious tender dark meat chicken.
The yibin noodles were ridiculous, I like them more than the dan Dan noodles, came with pork mixed with pickled vegetables, dried chili, peanuts, finely minced garlic. It’s a dry noodle and I’m not sure what they put in their oil but it’s like crack. I scarfed it down in 4 minutes. Noodles were chewy and springy. The peanuts gave a nice textural crunch while the pickled vegetables added deeper flavor to the ground pork and the dried chilis added a good heat. I added a little vinegar to cut through the richness the pork and oil. I think this and the youpo noodles are my favorite.
Service was nice and friendly even though they were packed. The owner lady came out to chat and check in on ppl as usual. Quickly becoming one of my favorite places to ear in sgv.
Hearing about the encouraging improvements at Chong Qing Special Noodles from @strongoxman, we wanted to give them another try, as well as Best Noodle House with its new chef to see how they compared.
Chong Qing Special Noodles (Revisit)
Walking into Chong Qing Special Noodles, it was indeed much improved: Unlike our first visit, the tables were cleaned / bussed, and we noticed the mother and son working much more quickly.
The Seaweed Salad was clean, nicely chilled and not overly salty.
Cold Steamed Chicken with Hot Sauce (Mouth Water Chicken):
The original reason we went to Best Noodle House was thanks to @ipsedixit’s recommendation for the great Cold Steamed Chicken with Hot Sauce (a.k.a. Mouth Water Chicken). The chef hasn’t lost his touch at the new place, and the Cold Steamed Chicken is complex, fresh, and tender. Fantastic!
Chongqing Dan Dan Noodle:
The other favorite of ours back at Best Noodle House was the Dan Dan Noodles, and even during our 2nd and 3rd visits, the Dan Dan Noodles have remained as layered, nutty, spicy and outstanding as before! Definitely a must order.
Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken:
As tasty as we remembered it at Best Noodle House. Slightly crispy, fragrant and spicy, but surprisingly not overwhelmingly so (I’m not a chili head). Delicious.
On our 4th visit, we started with:
These were a little less fragrant than before. Comparing our pics from our visits to Best Noodle House, we can see that they didn’t really use any Garlic here.
Pig Ear with Chili Oil:
These were as fragrant as before. Lightly spiced, with an almost sweetness to each bite.
Wonton with Spicy Sauce:
These were like our first visit: They are very generous with the portion size, at $5.99 it’s probably 200% the size of many Szechuan Spicy Wonton dishes that we’ve tried at other places. The Wonton skin is soft, but the Marinated Ground Pork filling is tasty and the spice blend and sauce are outstanding!
This was an unexpected find: We were visiting Chong Qing Special Noodles again after @strongoxman had mentioned it was much improved, and, our friend pointed out, there was Zha Jiang Mian on the menu here as well(!). So of course we had to order one and try…
First of all, we knew we might be asking for trouble, ordering Zha Jiang Mian in a Chong Qing cuisine specialist restaurant (perhaps like ordering Pizza from a BBQ joint). But we were eager to try as many variations as we could find on this journey.
Zha Jiang Mian - Handmade Noodle with Soybean Paste:
The good news is that the amazing Youpo Noodles that we (and some fellow FTC’ers loved) at Best Noodle House and here - the thick, wonderful “chew” and textured Handmade Noodles - are at the basis of Chong Qing Special Noodles’ Zha Jiang Mian(!).
Giving it a good stir…
Their Soybean Sauce was much more savory… nice Sauteed Ground Marinated Pork flavors, with the crunch of the Soybeans and Cucumbers.
But it’s the thick, Fettucine-like Handmade Noodles (made famous in the Youpo Noodles) that elevate this bowl:
It is awesome and delicious!
However, our Chinese friend and us all felt (after trying all of the other places on this journey) that it’s not really a “classic” Zha Jiang Mian, because those wide, thick Fettucine-like Handmade Noodles are so different and dominate the bowl… it’s more like a new interpretation / new creation, that’s also delicious.
Chong Qing Special Noodles
708 E. Las Tunas Dr.
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Tel: (626) 374-1849
Best Noodle House (Revisit)
Now that we visited the new restaurant, it was time for us to go back to Best Noodle House to see how it’s been holding up…
While a restaurant losing its original chef might be an unrecoverable blow - and it seemed to be the case initially at Best Noodle House a few months back - it seems they managed to recover by bringing the mentor / teacher of Best Noodle House’s original chef(!), according to our Chinese friend who was chatting with the owner.
She mentioned that the original chef’s teacher / mentor was from Chongqing, had been cooking for decades and was retired, but she convinced him to come and cook at Best Noodle House (neat!).
With the arrival of the mentor / teacher chef, Best Noodle House has a new complete menu, with a few new dishes alongside the entire original menu that made it so endearing in the first place.
Interestingly, this new version didn’t have any Garlic either, but it was still a refreshing, cooling starter to the meal.
Gele Mountain Style Fried Chicken Cubes:
These were better than the original Best Noodle House Fried Chicken Cubes. Crispy, crunchy, fragrant, and while it was spicy-hot, it really wasn’t as fearsome as the visuals make it look like. These are probably some of the best “Szechuan / Chongqing Spicy Fried Chicken” that we’ve had so far. Must order!
Boiled Fish Filet with Hot Sauce (Water Boiled Fish):
It was great seeing these cooked, specialty dishes back on the menu. The bowl of pure Hellfire looks intimidating, but it was manageable heat, and nicely nuanced - fragrant Chilies, Cilantro, the Fish being tender, and it went great with some Rice.
We were so encouraged by the new (restored) menu, and mentor chef to the original chef, that we went back the following weekend…
Cold Steamed Chicken with Hot Sauce (Chongqing “Mouth Water Chicken”):
@strongoxman and everyone, you’ll be happy to know it’s better than ever! The fact that this tastes even better than Best Noodle House’s original version is a testament to the mentor chef’s skills. As @ipsedixit said last year when first introducing this place. it truly is one of the most interesting, complex, layered versions of Mouth Water Chicken we’ve ever had.
It’s got multiple layers of interesting flavors going on. It’s not just generic “spicy / hot,” the Chilies and spices and the sauce all combine into something really special. Must order!
Liangjiang Fried Rice:
This was the only dud on the menu that we tried in these visits: It was too damp / moist, and it tasted like a standard “Fried Rice” with the addition of a type of Pickled Vegetable we hadn’t had before.
Sauteed Vegetables with Black Fungus:
These were nicely sauteed veggies and the Wood Ear Mushrooms gave it a nice subtle crunchiness.
Steamed Sliced Fish with Jellied Tofu (Mala version):
You can order this non-spicy, or spicy, so we went with their “Mala” spicy version. While initially it looks very similar to the famous Szechuan Water Boiled Fish, it includes Silken Tofu (what our friend said was “Tofu Flower” in Chinese), along with Bean Sprouts and Napa Cabbage on the bottom of the bowl.
It’s a little bit less intense than the Water Boiled Fish, but still just as tasty in many ways.
On our most recent (8th? 9th?) visit…
Marinated Meat (Pork Knuckle) (S):
This was a new menu item brought in by the teacher chef: It was served room temperature (it’s technically a cold appetizer), and it was a plate of long-stewed (but chilled) Pork Knuckles. The Soy Sauce base stewed flavor was apparent in every bite. It wasn’t overly salty, but not really that stand out either.
Wonton with Spicy Sauce:
Taking a bite…
Just stunning. It’s got so many interesting, complementary layers: It’s numbing (Szechaun Peppercorns) (actually really numbing), hot-spicy, subtly sweet, savory, fragrant from the cooked down Chilies and Green Onions, and the Handmade Wontons are tender and delicate.
I think I like the ones here at Best Noodle House a touch more than at Chong Qing Special Noodles. But both are outstanding (and far better than the ones at Szechuan Impressions).
Quick Fried Cabbage:
The generic-sounding “Quick Fried Cabbage” is a perfect example of “Wok Hei” (or “Breath of the Wok”) that you might’ve heard our Chinese experts talk about on our old board. The Cabbage is masterfully sauteed and cooked down to a tender consistency, but it has this excellent seared / sauteed quality.
Fish with Spicy Sauce:
Clearly there is no “Sauce” in this dish: It turns out that this is almost like a Fish version of Szechuan Spicy Fried Chicken. Except here, the Fish Filet batter is marinated with Cumin, and it’s got a little bit of a sweet-spiciness to it. Either way it was delicious as well.
Overall, the good news about these 2 restaurants is that they both are now serving (almost) equally great Chongqing cuisine, arguably the most nuanced, interesting and delicious versions we’ve tried. Chong Qing Special Noodles has much improved its original service problems. The former chef from Best Noodle House seems to have found his groove at the new restaurant, and most of the dishes hold up well (just as good as Best Noodle House’s version when he was cooking there).
We still think the Youpo Noodles are better at the original Best Noodle House, and a couple other dishes, but from the Dan Dan Noodles, to the Mouth Water Chicken, Handmade Wontons and more, this is a great “2nd location” to try out some great Chongqing cuisine.
And for Best Noodle House, now that they’ve gotten the mentor/teacher chef of the original chef to helm the kitchen, it has been restored to its former glory. The Youpo (Handmade) Noodles are fantastic. The Dan Dan Noodles, Mouth Water Chicken, and their Water Boiled Fish (and many other cooked dishes in their Specialties section) remain must-order items.
With their menu prices ranging from $2.50 - $17.95, with most dishes in the $7.95 range, Best Noodle House and Chongqing Special Noodles’ value are hard to beat, especially considering the quality is top notch as well.
(Note: Tuesdays are Noodles and Wontons only - Best Noodle House’s chef is off on Tuesdays.)
Best Noodle House
9329 Valley Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91770
Tel: (626) 782-7432
Any updates on the Best Noodle House vs. Chong Qing Special Noodle comparisons?
Is it possible for a person with peanut allergies to eat at this place?
once, i suppose.
If I may ask, how severe is the allergy? If there can’t be any cross-contamination (as in, no shared cutting board or wok, etc.), probably not.
But if it’s milder so that there just can’t be any peanuts in the actual dish, there might be some items that are safe from any accidental inclusion of peanuts. Probably best to call and make sure what you need.can be taken care of.
Great report. I need that fish with spicy sauce. Was the fish fried? How was the texture?