Interesting that he puts Matsuhisa in there. Have we ever had a full review of them here? I know it’s been mentioned in passing a couple times
i like that the article establishes the list as being his personal favorites and the reasons why, so folks can make (better) informed choices. i also suggest that you page down the article and also peruse his articles on the best and worst food trends of 2017. i tend to agree with his take on szechuan in LA as well as the fried chicken (among others).
I’ve never been to Matsuhisa, but I’ve ordered through Postmates several times. I like it. It strikes me as more legit Japanese than Go’s Mart.
I’m mostly struck by his description of Mori as a “bucolic” sushi bar. Maybe editing is now being done by thesaurus?
Also, Chengdu Taste is hardly “the pioneer” when it comes to Sichuan cuisine in the SGV…
Chengdu Taste is absolutely the pioneer of the modern Sichuan trend in SGV. I was a Cerritos/Artesia/626 kid, back then it was hard to find Sichuan food outside of Kung Pao ____ and fish fragrant eggplant, it was dominated by Cantonese, and Taiwanese. Now there was a few hole in wall places that my mom’s Sichuan coworkers recommend.
Those where absolutely the worst meals of my life. Chengdu Taste was an absolute game changer, which fits the “pioneer” description. JGold/foodie media also really helped out.
Personally as far as Chinese spicy food goes I think Hunan is far more interesting than Sichuan and I wish more Hakka Grandmas invaded the SGV and opened up restaurants.
Really? Again, I think people forget how much of a game change the original Chung King was more than a decade before Chengdu Taste opened. Go back and read all the coverage of it–from Gold, from the NY Times etc.
This is Mark Bittman, writing in 2006 about Chung King (among others). At this point we weren’t even living in Los Angeles anymore–i.e this wasn’t news to Angelenos.
Alas, I can’t find Gold’s original review which first sent so many of us to Chung King–would have been in 2002, I think. But here’s his capsule review for the Weekly’s 99 Essential Restaurants list in 2011. It was a mainstay on that list all through 2013 (the year before Chengdu Taste opened).
I spend an alarming portion of my reviewing life trying to prove a simple proposition: There must be a better Sichuan restaurant in the Los Angeles area than Chung King. I have chased around the San Gabriel Valley for years, looking for a crunchier version of fried chicken with hot peppers; a fresher version of the misleadingly named water-boiled fish, which combines soothing texture with acetylene-torch heat; and great, multiflavored beef casseroles so spicy they attack the nervous system like a phaser set to “stun.” And while I have great affection for the Yunnan this and the Chongqing that, and while I wish Hacienda Heights’ Shufeng was not quite so far away, there is no doubt: Chung King is still the gritty, grungy, pickle-spiked star of the local Sichuan restaurant community, the best source among many for Chinese bacon fried with leeks, for the cold, hacked chicken with chile, and the oozing lava of its ma po doufu. Chung King’s brand of Sichuan cooking, sizzling with four or five kinds of chiles and smacked with the cooling, numbing sensation of Sichuan peppercorns, lies halfway between dentist’s-chair Novocain and the last time you could afford a lot of blow. 1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd., San Gabriel. (626) 286-0298. Daily, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Beer. Lot parking. Cash only. Chinese/Sichuan.
If Chuck Jones had ever decided to draw something spicy for the coyote to injure himself with, it probably would have looked a lot like Chung King’s fried chicken with hot peppers, a knoll of crunchy dark-meat cubes subsumed under a blizzard of dried chiles that are the red of silk pajamas, the red of firecrackers, the red of the Chinese flag. Chung King is the gritty, grungy star of the minicorridor of Sichuan restaurants in Monterey Park, for the pungent, cured Chinese bacon fried with leeks, for the little eels stir-fried with fermented peppers, for the cold, hacked chicken with chile, for the great, multiflavored beef casseroles that are so spicy they attack the nervous system like a phaser set to “stun.” 206 S. Garfield Ave., Monterey Park, (626) 280-7430. Lunch and dinner seven days 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. BYOB. Lot parking. Cash only. Dinner for two $13–$22. Chinese/Szechuan.
Now, Chengdu Taste is a better restaurant and absolutely fueled the second wave. But the greater LA foodie interest in Sichuan food had been driven by Chung King over the previous decade. They were the true pioneers.
My first thought when this whole issue came up on the thread. Those who introduce a concept - new or just new to an area, culture or society - may or may not be the best example. However, it is the first iteration. So Chung King was the pioneer.
When someone comes along and takes an existing idea and changes it (qualitatively or otherwise), and offers this new iteration, they are the innovator.
Like so many things that have been introduced and inevitably innovated, time has a way of lessening the significance of the former, as the latter is so much closer to us.
Original Ford Taurus.
Whoops, wrong forum.
Doubt there is anything as “advanced” as a thesaurus in use.
It’s just part of his style.
He has been throwing that word (and many others) around for years and years (vide infra), often whimsically. I personally think he likes the way it sounds and doesn’t give a rat’s ass if it is at all correct usage.
KPaul’s is supposed to be Cajun from Prudhomme’s rural roots in bucolic acadania
Wiener, that spread almost looks pastoral and borderline bucolic.
Well, I guess print journalism is now at a pass where it shouldn’t be surprising if people who don’t care much about what words mean get to continue writing reviews while others are let go.
That explanation is beyond fucking exceptional.
Except that in those two examples the use of “bucolic” is actually more or less correct–as he is referring to rural locations/nature (though pastoral and bucolic?). A bucolic sushi bar, on the other hand…
Look, it’s the LA Weekly with the new owners. This article is mediocre at best–poorly written and factually questionable at worst. Anybody who writes for the new owners isn’t getting a lot of run at other places–for a fucking reason.
Agree that the writing in this article is really poor. The history of sushi is slapdash and misses virtually everything. But I did like his descriptions of the places.
I know. I actually tried to find bucolic labeling of the unbucolic - then gave up. Bucolically.
Just spoke with my Mom and she confirmed that the horrorfic Sichuan meal was at Chung King on Garvey. Too oily, too salty, too spicy, too commie, a Taiwanese or Hong Kongers nightmare, the only Chinese food with 98% leftovers we threw in the trash!