A darn fine bowl of dan dan noodles for $3.99
Will it displease the gods of Chinese food if we go to a Sichuan hot pot restaurant and do not order a hot pot? Perhaps, especially since the requisite framed Jonathan Gold review on the wall of New Chong Qing is titled "New Hot Pot Spot." But after an 80 degree winter day, we're not in the mood for hot pot, so tough. What we are in the mood for is dan dan noodles, and New Chong Qing is said to have some of the best in the area. New Chong Qing is in a modern mini-mall, and with a brief laminated menu and wall decorations of empty Ikea frames and neon post-it note doodles, it has a slick, yet improvisational quality. The menu translations are some of the most amusing around, from pig waist to a drink called something like Manifold Destiny.
Dan dan noodles are just $3.99 a bowl, so order two -- it's not a large portion, and though they're rich and greasy, you'll likely want more of the nutty, slightly numbing, slick herbal mixture. If the gods are angered because we ordered Kung pao chicken (above), then so be it: This is a tangy dish of chicken, garlic and chiles with no peanuts or sugary, goopy sauce to be found. Ma-po tofu over rice has a similar flavor profile to dan dan noodles, so maybe we should have tried green beans or other vegetables instead. But since that profile is complex, spicy and flecked with alluring Sichuan peppercorns, there's no cause for complaint. New Chong Qing doesn't have the hottest food around or the largest menu, but for a quick bowl of satisfying noodles at lunch or dinner, it's just the spot. There's no beer, but Matt was happy with a blueberry slushie. We'll take more people and try to balance the dishes better next time -- oh yeah, and maybe even a hot pot.
New Chong Qing
120 N. San Gabriel Blvd.