Sunday, September 09, 2007

Taste test: Hong Yei

Szechwan restaurants seem to come and go fairly quickly in the San Fernando Valley, so when I heard about the new Hong Yei in San Gabriel, I figured I had better act fast before it changed management. In a brand-new office building, it's bright and clean, a big step up from dive level, but still informal. Hong Yei's menu says it's Mandarin-style, but the main attraction is the good selection of Szechwan dishes served at perhaps more reasonable spice levels than, say, Chung King just down the street. When we first ordered the Szechwan style fish fillet with hot sauce, pictured above, the English-speaking waiter chuckled ominously, pointing to the three peppers next to each dish. So we requested medium heat, and although it looks like a seething cauldron of lava, it's really not -- the soft fish filets and nappa cabbage are heavily perfumed with Szechwan peppercorns but there's only enough red chiles to flavor the dish, not to overwhelm it. The peppercorns have the curious effect of making you sweat like a horse but without actually making your mouth burn the way chiles do, so it's actually rather cooling to eat. We also tried dan dan noodles, which were a bit gummy but a treat to find in the refrigerator the next day, and a cold appetizer plate of tender seaweed and refreshing pickled cabbage and other vegetables. While the fish filets were startlingly flavorful, our favorite dish was cumin lamb (left), sort of a dry curry which in which layers of flavors reminiscent of Thai food permeate tender, garlicky, mildly spicy bits of lamb. There's also quite a selection of dumplings and pancakes -- most all the other tables had ordered the beef roll, but I knew we were going to 101 Noodle the next day, so we saved our appetite. Next time: duck and konjac jelly with beer sauce, for sure! The price for all these intense flavors: a super-reasonable $30 for three entrees and two appetizers, rice and tea.
Hong Yei
288 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel
(626) 614-8188


ipsedixit said...


Are you sure the picture shows the fish filet with hot sauce?

It should have been served on a plate. The picture looks like it came in a bowl?

Try the field chicken next time you go and the beef intestines.

WBGuy said...

That looks more like the "water-boiled fish" to me. Filets of fish poached in hot, spiced oil, not broth nor sauce.

We had this when I was there. Not the best execution of this dish. The spices were a bit weak, and the fish was crumbly , not fresh.

Anonymous said...

You told the restaurant to make your Sichuan dish LESS spicy??? Why not try Panda Express next time?

Best food blog???

Pat said...

Yes, I certainly did tell them to make it less spicy. I have to eat with other people, you know. And I have very few friends -- really only one who comes to mind (John?) -- who really likes the food as spicy as I might want it. Besides, sometimes it's worth preserving your tastebuds for other dishes. I love Chung King's spicy chicken cubes, but I couldn't really taste the rest of my meal after I was the only one left eating them. Also, last time I looked, tolerance for heat was not a requirement for becoming a food blogger -- although I'll go head to head with anyone on Thai or Szechwan food.

amy said...

i had the 'water boiled' fish in shanghai.
where can i find a good version in los angeles?