Dinner at Sichuan Impression 镍城里 in Alhambra
Though their sign still reads Szechuan Impression, somehow, over the years, they’ve decided to stop using the American romanization of 四川 and started using the Pinyin spelling instead. And you can see that on their claimed Yelp page and Facebook pages.
The food here was solid but not as good as when they first opened, and Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold was patiently waiting outside for a table with his son.
While the highlights of the dinner were the Bobo Chicken of Leshan (bowl of skewers of chicken innards, seafood and vegetables), Fish Filet with Rattan Peppers (spicy and mouth numbing – so good, my dinner mates kept fishing through the broth for any last bits of fish meat), and, especially the Tea Smoked Pork Ribs (which was wonderfully seasoned with a nice smoky flavor – heavy on the garlic but not the spiciness), there were some dishes that disappointed me.
Their cold jelly noodles had a nice touch of heat, but there was a bit too much vinegar in the sauce. In my first bite, I got this huge hit of tartness from it. Only when it subsided did the spiciness rolled in a little.
Another disappointment was their Wontons in Chili Oil. Though it was a little spicy, but that was overshadowed by overly sweetness of the sauce. Similar issue with the Kong Pao Chicken. It was just a tad too sweet. Ironically, what wasn’t sweet enough was the Cinderella’s Pumpkin Rides. Pumpkin cakes filled with red beans, and not a lot of red beans, nor sugar. Had they used sweet red bean paste instead, that might have made the difference.
Lastly, the Sauteed Shredded Potatoes were bland. It was the only dish that hardly anyone at our table opted for a second serving. Upon leaving the restaurant, I notice the same dish at the next table. Only theirs had red and green chilis pieces stir fried with the potatoes, whereas our order only had scallions. I found it odd that they would make such error preparing our order. No wonder it was plain bland.
For the number of really good dish, there were equally the number of disappointing ones for me. Even so, there’s so much more of the menu to explore. So, another visit will be warranted. However, there are newer hole-in-the-wall Sichuanese places that have popped up around the San Gabriel Valley over the last year that are making much more flavor forward dishes than this place now…
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