This Monterey Park Sichuan restaurant was included in a 2006 New York Times piece by Mark Bittman about the best Chinese restaurants in So. California -- years after Jonathan Gold and a host of other bloggers and critics and foodies began singing its praises. It's a deserving mecca for the foodie set with a penchant for fiery dishes.
This storefront nondescript restaurant, with English-captioned photos of popular dishes on the wall, has an extensive menu though it specializes in hot pots and casseroles. Our party requested that dishes marked with a chili pepper on the menu, signifying HOT, be toned down to "less spicy," since we had been amply warned about the firepower of the Sichuan peppercorn and dried red chiles. It worked. We were able to enjoy the complex flavors of a fish hot pot, with pickled vegetables, even though the spiciness was shy of eye-watering. Same for a plate of shrimp prepared two ways.
The clientele is primarily Chinese and it's reflected in the items on the menu. The Chinese are much more fond of organ meats, blood sausages, ears and heads and feet than most Asian restaurants catering to Americans. But for those like us, who draw the line just past frogs legs, there is ample choice; and the hot pots (Chinese shabu-shabu) can be ordered with whatever ingredients suit the diners.
Large parties are ideal for this spot so you can sample a wide variety from the menu.