Lucky Noodle King
534 E Valley Blvd, Ste 10
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Funny how things turn out…
We had this grand plan of finally going to Chengdu Taste this past Saturday. I actually wasn’t the one who suggested it, because I was among Canto people, and you know how weak they are at handling spice ;). But my friend Ben lives near the restaurant, and was very curious about Szechuan/Sichuan cuisine. Of course, it didn’t take much to get me excited about going, and I even went as far as announcing our impending dinner on Twitter, and asking the local big shots (Clarissa Wei, David Chan, SinoSoul) what to order. Knowing how busy the restaurant is, especially after the J. Gold review, I suggested that we have dinner before 6pm. But NOOOOO – these idiots insisted on 7:30, even mentioning that an hour’s wait is doable. Little did they know…
I warned these idiots thusly – there were at least 20 parties ahead of us. We had planned on watching a movie at 10pm, so figured an hour’s wait was okay. But half an hour passed, and only 2 names were crossed out. Then an hour passed, and only another 2 were crossed out. People were not coming out – must be because of the free wi-fi! Anyways, there was no way we would get in and eat dinner before the movie, so unfortunately my dream of dining at Chengdu Taste will have to be fulfilled another day. Since we were so locked in on Sichuan food that night, I first thought of Chung King as the contingency plan – but they closed at 9 (c’mon, really?). But luckily (pun unintended), nearby Lucky Noodle King came to the rescue.
Lucky Noodle King had been on my to-dine list for quite some time, but it’s very easy to get lost in the shuffle when the Andrew Wiggins of the SGV universe enters the picture. The restaurant had the spotlight itself a couple of years ago, when J. Gold reviewed the place, and subsequently naming their dan dan mian as one of his top 10 dishes of that year (Mr. Chan echoes a similar sentiment) – so in no way should this dinner be considered some also-ran. We got there around 9, and the place was empty (they technically close at 9:30). But by mid-meal, the tiny restaurant was packed, all 5-6 tables of it. Upon being seated, we received a plate of spicy cabbage and peanuts, which set the mood for the night: Hot in Herre!
I consider my spice tolerance to be moderate, and it held up pretty well during dinner. But I sweat A LOT when I eat spicy foods (doesn’t help being fat), and I went through the napkins quickly – but it burned so good. We basically ordered the most basic of Sichuan dishes, since the guys weren’t familiar with the cuisine: water-boiled fish, mapo tofu, wontons in chili oil, Chongqing fried chicken, and of course the dan dan mian. The first 3 dishes were executed as well as any version I’ve had in the SGV. But let’s talk about this dan dan mian that’s so hot (again, pun unintended). Every version I’ve had of the dish goes heavy-handed with either the spice, the sesame paste, or the peanuts, but never all 3 aspects. But Lucky Noodle King balances these characteristics of the ideal dan dan mian well (although it might not seem like it above from the angle I shot the dish at), and they worked off all each other wonderfully.
The Chongqing fried chicken was the table favorite, but it was probably the weakest dish of the night for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good, but I wanted the pieces of chicken to be crispier. Also, there seemed to be some bits of sugar tossed in – not sure if that’s supposed to be there, but I didn’t like the wok-charred pieces I ate, thinking that they were chicken (maybe the dish was Americanized for us?). Will probably try the intestine version next time, or get one of their hot pots or double-cooked pork – I will definitely be returning. Regardless, the dinner was a successful one, and we were lucky (okay, pun intended here) to have Sichuan food of this caliber while deciding on the fly.
And sorry for starting off this post so Chengdu Taste-heavy…