Lunch with Beggars Chicken and Beijing Duck at Jiang Nan Spring 江南春 in Alhambra
Jiang Nan Spring literally opened in the Spring of 2019, by Chef Henry Chang, who, previously was at Chang's Garden in Arcadia. Chef Chang prepares a specialty dish called Beggars Chicken, which is a whole chicken that is stuffed with ingredients, then wrapped in lotus leaves before it is, traditionally, encased in clay and then baked underground. It is baked underground for a few hours before it's removed. The clay encasing is then cracked open, and the lotus leaf wrap is cut open. The backbones of the chicken is then removed before it is served. I learned about Jiang Nan Spring serving this dish from a write up in EaterLA just over a year ago.
Chef Chang's version is a marinated chicken that is stuffed with noodles, shredded pork, pickled vegetables, chestnuts, jujubes, ginger, shitake mushrooms. It's then wrapped in lotus leaves and encased in salted dough. It is then slow baked in the oven for about 2 to 3 hours. The dough encased chicken is then brought to the table for an opening ritual. Once the encasing is cracked open, the chicken is brought back to the kitchen to have the dough encasing removed, the lotus leaves cut open, and then brought back to the table to be eaten. The cooked dough is tough to eat, though it is offered on a separate plate in case you do want to munch on it.
What we had last Sunday was much better than the version I had at Chang's Garden a couple of years back. At Chang's Garden, the chicken and the filling were overcooked, rendering the chicken meat dried out and flavorless. Here, the chicken was still moist, as was the filling. The dish cost $49.95 and must be ordered at least 24 hours in advance.
Another special order dish we had was the Beijing Duck. Jiang Nan Spring received praise for their duck. My dining companions really enjoyed the duck. It appears that they do not sell a lot of duck as they served the duck with wraps that are normally served with Mu Shu dishes (the wraps are about 8 inches in diameter, not about 5 inches in diameter that you normally get with Beijing duck). The duck costs $45.00 and should be ordered at least 24 hours in advance. For $6.00 more, they can prepare a duck soup with the duck carcass.
We ordered 2 traditional Zhejiang dishes along with the chicken and the duck: Spare Ribs with Sticky Rice wrapped in Lotus Leaves; and Deep Fried Fish Filets with Seaweed.
Add a couple of vegetable dishes and a steamed chicken and we had quite a feast.
Jiang Nan Spring, 910 East Main Street, Alhambra, California 91801
Telephone: (626) 766-1688
Hours: Wednesdays through Mondays, 11:00 am to 9:00 pm (Closed on Tuesdays)
Website/Online Ordering: https://jiangnanspringac.com/
叫化鸡 Beggars Chicken
Beijing Duck and Duck Soup
Spare Ribs in Lotus Leaf
Seaweed Fried Fish Filet
Shanghai Steamed Chicken
Xiao Long Bao (Soup Dumplings with Pork)
Sauteed String Beans with Ground Pork
Sauteed Pea Shoot Leaves with Garlic