Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Real Chung King: J. Gold’s Redemption

I owe my non-minyan level readership an apology, as I posted a scathing review of the wrong restaurant. There are two small restaurants with similar Sichuan menus bearing the name “Chung King” in the San Gabriel Valley. Only one has been heralded, and I, relying on the poor fact-checking skills of paid critics Jonathan Gold and Mark Bittman, went to the wrong one. In their respective reviews, Bittman and Gold incorrectly listed the heralded restaurant as being on Garfield Road in Monterey Park, which is actually the location for the outrageously bad restaurant, and not on San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel, which is where I needed to be. To exacerbate matters, both critics inexplicably included a sentence on the doppelganger’s Monterey Park environs. This sloppiness led directly to my nausea and burnitz. However, Gold, in his summer survey of Los Angeles restaurants, quietly overruled himself by imploring his readers to “[m]ake sure you end up at the San Gabriel restaurant, which is vastly superior to the Monterey Park imposter of the same name.”

So Marisa and I ventured back to the San Gabriel Valley, and are now, only belatedly, on the Chung King bandwagon. We stuck to familiar territory and ordered three dishes: the fried cubes of chicken with dried Sichuan red peppers; stir fried pork with several types of pickled peppers, garlic and green onion; and the rice crusts with chicken, seafood, and vegetables in a viscous lemony sauce.

Served first, the pork was shredded and had an unexpectedly soft texture that was delicious. The different types of pickled peppers and their varying degrees of fermentation presented a continuum of flavors between fire and tanginess. Our waitress then served the fried chicken, which was served in a sea of dried red peppers and struck like a bomb. All of the Peruvian aji sauce and salsa roja in my regular diet was no preparation for the Sichuan peppers, which were so different and are as intoxicating and addictive as they are delicious. Fifteen minutes into these dishes, my entire body was stunned and in a frenzy. I felt high. Yet there would be no way I would pull away from the ever changing flavors and the fire. The rice crust was supposed to be the counterpoint, but instead intensified the heat and pushed me back to the peppers.

I hereby renounce my skepticism of Chinese food.

But Bittman can still suck it.

Chung King
1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd.
San Gabriel
(626) 286-0298


Jim said...

I am glad those peppers stimulated you so... Sexy, sweaty, sichuan'ed Steve.

Anonymous said...

Dude, you need to work on your OWN fact checking.

Yes, Bittman got the wrong location. But Gold didn't. The review you linked was from about 5 years ago, when the Chung King on Garfield was the ONLY location. When the real deal moved to San Gabriel Valley Blvd, he wrote another review.

Get your act together.

Marisa said...

Anonymous, if you're going to critique, leave your name. You can totally suck it.

Anonymous said...

you are right about anonymous marisa but he/she is right too. some very sloppy work on your site. and is it really necessary to keep telling people to suck it?

Steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve said...

I'm not sure how you define "sloppiness." Apparently corroborating addresses and information from NY Times and LA Weekly articles is sloppy to you. Regrettably both articles were flawed, and I eagerly corrected myself when learning of the correct address.

For your sake, I hope you're not that anal. It's just a blog.

Marisa said...

Anonymous 2 (what is it with you people? sign in, use a name):
Yes, it is necessary. And you can, too.

Anonymous said...

Kind of late to make this comment, but I agree with anonymous. The Gold review you were looking at was from when the Chung King was on Garfield in MP. They moved to San Gabriel and somebody else took over the old location and kept the same name and menu. He wrote a new review with the new address. You only read the old one. So it was indeed your own research that was to blame. But it was obviously an easy mistake to make.