Apr 2011

Yunnan Garden – Monterey Park

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

The Astronomer and I dined at Yun Chuan Garden many moons ago when my mother was in town for work. Even though no one in our party read Chinese or was familiar with Szechuan cuisine, we still enjoyed a solid meal by blindly trusting the menu’s cryptic English descriptions.

The Astronomer and I returned to the restaurant a few weekends back with our friend Danny. With a Chinese-speaking Szechuan expert at the table, we were excited to re-experience Yun Chuan Garden.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

Joining the three of us for dinner were Amy, her fiance Dennis, and Laurie. Our group of six gathered around a large table toward the back of the restaurant. Danny took charge and ordered an array of beloved standbys, as well as a handful of new dishes.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

To start, Danny, Amy, and I picked out a few cold appetizers from the selection at the front counter. The fried tofu, beef shank, and jellied headcheese all rocked. The spicing and seasonings were just right for my chili-loving tastes.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

I’ve learned from Danny that a Szechuan meal isn’t complete without a serving of “Water Boiled Fish.” The dish was comprised of flaky hunks of white fish marinating in a pool of red chilies, chili oil, and Szechuan peppercorns. The flavor was more subtle and nuanced than the fiery red sauce signaled. The peppercorns left a numbing parting gift.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

The Astronomer and I both loved the “Yunchuan-Style Spicy Fried Shrimp.” The light and crunchy batter gave way to tender and juicy shrimps. What made this dish better than your average platter of battered and fried seafood were the aromatics at play. Ginger, scallions, garlic, dried chilies, and Szechuan peppercorns imbued the shrimp with an intense and addictive flavor. Once again, our tongues were left deliriously numb thanks to the peppercorns.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

I also adored the “Preserved Pork with Wild Mushrooms.” The salty slices of Chinese prosciutto, coupled with the toothsome mushrooms, had my chopsticks coming back for more all evening long. The combination of jalapenos and dried chilies gave this dish a more traditional spicy profile.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

One stone left unturned from our previous meal at Yun Chuan Garden was a dish called “Spicy with Spicy.” Feeling braver than we did two years ago, The Astronomer and I insisted on an order of this mysterious concoction.

It turns out that “Spicy with Spicy,” which consisted of ground pork and bean curd sauteed with dried chili flakes, fresh red chilies, chili oil, and jalapenos, was really friggin’ spicy! It was great to finally satisfy our curiosity, but I don’t think we’ll be ordering this dish again.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

To balance the chili-intensive plates, Danny selected a few “buffer” dishes. The “Across the Bridge Noodles,” a mildly flavored chicken noodle soup from Kunming, provided a fine diversion from the avalanche of peppercorns and chilies.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

The “Seafood Trio with Crispy Rice” also effectively combated the incessant burning sensation. The saucy mixture of shrimp, squid, fish, carrots, and mushrooms contrasted wonderfully with the crispy squares of puffed rice underneath.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

The “Yunnan-Style Stir Fried Rice Cakes” were a familiar face in a sea of exotic and new dishes. This was a solid and not-too-spicy rendition of one of my all-time favorite dishes.

Yun Chuan Garden - Monterey Park

And finally, a lone plate of “Garlic Green Beans” to provide some vitamins and fiber up in this carbohydrate- and protein-centric paradise. I loved how the hot wok wrinkled the beans’ skins, imparting an unbeatable savoriness.

Our meal at Yun Chuan Garden made me feel all warm and tingly inside. I think it was the lingering peppercorns.

Yun Chuan Garden
301 N. Garfield Avenue, Ste. D102
Monterey Park, CA 91754
Phone: 626-571-8387

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9 thoughts on “Yunnan Garden – Monterey Park

  1. Wow all of these dishes looked so delicious! It is about lunch time here and the Yunnan-Style Stir Fried Rice Cakes would really hit the spot!

  2. Seafood Trio looks like it was a good call after the spicy w/ spicy. After a good Szechuan meal, I always have this nice euphoric feeling, and I never know if it was the satisfying feeling of a full belly, the peppercorns, or just relief after a little face sweat 🙂

  3. I’ll take two of those last two dishes! Green beans and rice cakes over spicy with spicy any day!

    Glad Danny was such a good guide during your super hot dinner date.

  4. Wrinkly green beans have always been a favorite of mine. Always magically crisp inside, but sooo savory sweet.

  5. yay you posted! now i can “borrow” some info from yours to post on mine….that meal was rough on my tongue…especially the spicy with spicy…holy, moly.

  6. If you really dig Szechuan cuisine, I have to recommend Chung King in San Gabriel. It has a cold appetizer counter, but the menu items that really shine are the ones with an overwhelming amount of Szechuan peppercorns. I heartily recommend the spicy chicken and the spicy eggplant, especially the eggplant. Usually we order only the spicy food, which leads to “Chung King’s revenge” the next morning, but it is oh so worth it. Check out the Yelp review:

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