Had one of the great meals I've had in LA today at Szechuan Impression. Arrived at 1:30 and was able to get a table right away. There were three of us; we ordered a feast of 8 dishes, some assorted teas/drinks, and dessert, and it came out to about $35 a person. This was honestly shockingly good. The finesse in the cooking was at a level above Chengdu Taste. I will be back. A lot.
We started with bamboo shoots in chili oil. This was a theme, but the chili oil was deftly used. This was a crisp, refreshing start with a small kick. Forgot to picture this one so took the pic from LA times; ours looked exactly the same.
Next up we got "potato strips on street corner" and sauteed veggies of some sort. These fries were fucking great. I wouldn't be surprised if these are just frozen crinkle cut fries from a market, but it doesn't matter, they were hot, perfectly cooked, and just loaded up with spice. Guy Fieri would say this is where we entered flavor town. Greens were nice; as the meal went on they were a good reprieve from spice.
Wantons in chili oil--the best wantons I've ever had. The skin was magnificient, the filling smooth and tasty, and the skins were wonderful. And then the chili oil sauce had a sweetness that was different from any other chili oil sauce on the other dishes. I really wanted this whole plate to myself.
Fried chicken with chiles and ginger. The best version of this dish I've had. The chicken was fried perfectly, and was just so damn hot and tasty. An addicting dish.
Fish filets with green pepper. This has become the standard bearer dish for Szechuan food in LA. In my view, this was better than the one at Chengdu Taste. The fish was meltingly tender, and this is one of those dishes that just gets incredibly spicy if you eat the serranos and get an occasional peppercorn or two. It was about this point that my water became useless, as the numbing effect turns your water into garbage. Man this was good. Also, the bottom of the bowl had a surprising array of mushrooms. The fact that this was like $14 made me have some second thoughts about paying $42 a pound for red cod at Sea Harbour that did not taste as good as this.
Toothpick lamb with cumin. I never tried this at Chengdu Taste. It was good, not great to my taste. I am admittedly not a cumin lover, and that is the dominant flavor profile here. Very gamey, so you have to be into that.
Mother's hand cut noodle soup. This was how we finished the savory part of the meal, and man was it a welcome, non-spicy sight. Filled with delicious hand cut noodles, this soup had a sesame flavor profile. Just really good.
We ended the meal with "Cindarella's pumpkin rides." It's pumpkin mixed with some kind of starch and then fried, with a bean paste inside. Like a lot of desserts at Chinese places--it just ain't my thing, but I eat it anyway. Forgot to picture.
Anyone else have some recs for must-have dishes next time I go? I think the wantons and the chicken are probably "musts" for me on any visit, but many other things on the menu looked great. Has anyone tried the Golden soup?