There’s a lot to love about my new job. Somewhere near the top of the list, along with benefits and stock options, is its location in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley—home to some of the finest Chinese food outside of China. Every lunchtime excursion is an event, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Alhambra’s Szechuan Impression has been the talk of the foodie town these past couple of weeks. Upon reading Tony’s initial “Dining On A Dime” write up on Eater, followed by Jonathan’s “First Look” for the Times, the restaurant quickly shot up my To Eat List. As you know, I simply adore Sichuanese cuisine.
Since Szechuan Impression’s dinnertime waits are rivaling those of rival Sichuan restaurant Chengdu Taste, I took advantage of my new employment situation and made my way here for lunch… on back-to-back days! On both visits I was able to snag a table for two without any trouble.
The “Impressive Cold Noodle” ($6.99) made an appearance at both lunches, and yes, they were as impressive as billed: toothsome strands tangled up in a perfectly balanced blend of chili oil and vinegar. The whole bowl struck the right kind of numbing, spicy, tangy note.
The “Honesty Authentic Dumplings ($6.99),” thick-skinned parcels stuffed with ground pork and sprinkled with green onions and sesame seeds, were also a highlight. The fragrant chili oil brightened every bite with its characteristic numbing spice.
While I wasn’t a tremendous fan of the “Intestine Starch Noodle” ($6.99), mostly due to the noodle’s stretchy tapioca-like texture, I could appreciate that it was very well executed nevertheless. What can I say? I prefer my noodles with bite!
The very best dish during my first visit had to be the “Garlic Shredded Pork” ($8.99). The thin slices of “oddly delicate” steamed pork belly, served at room temperature and dressed in chili oil, were irresistible. My chopsticks kept coming back for more.
To finish, an order of the sweetish “Fried Rice Cake with Black Sugar” ($5.99). The glossy sauce tasted of boiled-down raisins (in a good way!), while the rice was shaped like the most powerful Tetris piece and crisped on all sides. Toasted rice powder added the finishing touch.
On my second trip to Szechuan Impression, I indulged in the “Smoked Pork Ear” ($8.99). My lunchtime companion wasn’t too thrilled with the ear’s intensely smoky flavor, but I was most definitely a fan.
I also quite liked the “Farm Chicken in Chili Oil” ($11.99), even though I had to battle quite a few bones. The overall flavor and texture of the chicken were exquisite. Eat this one with plenty of steamed rice.
Szechuan Impression made quite an impression on me during my two visits. The flavors of each dish, skillfully balanced with ma and la in perfect harmony, reminded me of the cooking that I experienced in Chengdu last year. One of these weekends, I shall endure the wait and take The Astronomer here—he’s dying for a taste.
Lucky Noodle King > Szechuan Impression > Yunchuan Garden > Chengdu Taste > Chung King
1900 West Valley Boulevard
Alhambra, CA 91803
There’s more to eat in Alhambra. Holla:
- 101 Noodle Express – Alhambra
- Aloha Food Factory – Alhambra
- Ba Le French Sandwich & Bakery – Alhambra
- Bánh Cuốn Hai Nam Saigon – Alhambra
- Bánh Mì Mỹ Tho – Alhambra
- Chengdu Taste – Alhambra
- Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co. – Alhambra
- Lee’s Sandwiches – Alhambra
- Noodle Guy – Alhambra
- Old Country Cafe – Alhambra
- Phở 79 – Alhambra
- Twohey’s Restaurant – Alhambra
- Đông Nguyên Restaurant – Alhambra