By Gail Block and Elias Davis –
Chung King, a Sichuan restaurant in Monterey Park, was included in a 2006 New York Times piece by Mark Bittman about the best Chinese restaurants in Southern California – years after Jonathan Gold of the L.A. Weekly and a host of other bloggers, critics and foodies began singing its praises. It’s a deserving mecca 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 chilies. 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.
Chung King is located at 206 S. Garfield Ave. in Monterey Park. Phone number is (626) 280-7430. Web site is http://www.chungking.us