Restaurant: Shancheng Lameizi
Location: Mandarin Plaza. 18932 Gale Ave, Rowland Heights, CA 91748. (626) 581-8808
and 1530 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 766-1700
Date: March 7 and March 26 and May 7 and June 22 and December 27, 2019
Cuisine: Szechuan Hot Pot
Rating: Best Hot Pot restaurant I’ve been to
They describe themselves on their website thusly:
Our secret recipes of the soup base all come from Chongqing, so that our customers can taste the authentic flavor of hot pot from that mountain city. Apart from that, more than twenty kinds of free special snacks also attract many diners and lead to our good reputation, making the company prosper in the dining industry for more than twenty years. Our tenet of providing quality and comfortable service also makes every one of our customers “come with joy and leave with satisfaction”. Our specialties are delicious, rich-flavored and good for your calcium supplement. Their functions of skin care and regulating Qi and blood are also good for your health. Our soup is daily fresh-made.
This branch (there are a couple) is located in busy Mandarin plaza. There are like 15-20 Asian places out here and we are returning in the summer for a crawl.
There is even a bit of outside decor.
Check it out, they spent some actual money.
There is even an outside hot pot patio! (the tables have the built in hot pots). I’ve never seen this before.
Inside has a cute bit of decor, and tiny Chinese girl sized booths. We were initially offered a 2 person booth like the near one on the right — Yarom and I, being neither a couple nor particularly petite waited for a four person sized table.
Then 2 weeks later I was out in the SGV by myself picking up some gelato equipment and decided to try out the Alhambra branch. Similar elaborate building — I didn’t see the patio, but friends say it’s there. I went back again 5/7/19 too because this place is just that good.
Inside has another of these “fancy” Chinese decors that would cost an American 3 million but probably only cost them $300,000.
They have the best “sauce bar” I have ever seen, although you have to pay $1.50 a person for it. It includes more than just sauce like these snacks (which I didn’t eat).
Dessert. Very Chinese. Bean stuff sesame balls. Kinda dry and not worth the carbs.
More snacks. Peanuts, dried lima beans, etc. These were good. Shrimp chips.
Not sure what all these were. Some red beans. Some weird mysterious sweet things. Like those sperm on the left. Kinda gelatinous and sweet.
You fill out the menu while waiting.
From my cellar: NV Philipponnat Champagne Royale Réserve Rosé Brut. BH 92. A moderately fruity nose reflects notes of cherry, strawberry, raspberry, yeast and a subtle citrus nuance. There is a really lovely sense of energy to the delicious, round and nicely voluminous flavors that are shaped by a moderately fine effervescence that carries over to a lingering and solidly complex finish that is drier than the 9 g/L of dosage would suggest. One of the aspects that I particularly like here is that unlike many examples of rosé that tend to be prettier than they are deep, there has very good depth. Like the Royale Réserve, this could easily be held for further aging but it is so attractive now that there is no particular reason to do so.
agavin: perfect hot hot pot pairing
I developed 3 sauce blends. This is the “light” blend with a lot of vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and various fermented flavors. Trying to be vinegar heavy.
This is the “meat” blend with a lot of peanut, sesame, and other spicy fermented flavors. Very thick and and heavy but delicious with the meat.
A different day’s sesame based blend.
Crispy Pork Appetizer. I really wanted to order some pork rind like things I saw on another table, but ended up with these, basically like the fried pork chunks that are in a good version of the sweet and sour pork. Pretty delicious actually. Like pork tenders.
We got the hot pot split with bone broth and super spicy Szechuan hot pot (the slurry of melted ox fat, chilies, and peppercorns). I asked for max heat. They also have a 9 way split but it’s more so people can have their own area. They only have 2 broths.
Starting to heat up.
Furious boil (on the left).
Video of it boiling.
On request, you can even get a branded bib — I highly recommend you do!
Certified Angus Beef Short Rib. Very nice meat.
On top was Lamb Shoulder. Also really good.
Fatty Beef Belly — richer!
Some other meat.
Streaky Pork. Thicker and full of flavor.
Meatball Combo (beef? and a fish ball).
Tofu Combo. Lighter and heavier tofu.
Rice cakes. Carby but great texture.
Vegetable combo. Various cabbage and greens. These are really good sauce vehicles and helped wash things down.
Some root vegetables.
Yarom brought this Cab from the night before — still in awesome shape and strong enough to overcome the heat.
On top, Special Luncheon Pork (spam). So good we had three orders! Below was Mini Sausage which have a lot of flavor and open up when cooked.
Raw Pig brain! Yeah, it’s really scary. I made sure to cook it really really well.
Chicken gizzard. Very very chewy. Can’t say I would recommend.
Spongey mushroom with shrimp. Surprisingly delicious. Interesting spongey texture too.
Fish Filet. Chunks of thick deboned whole fish that you drop in — in my case into the spicy side — to get that Szechuan boiled fish effect.
Wood ear mushroom. I love these guys.
Special baby bamboo shoot (5/7/19). On one of my return trips they had added LOTS of specials, including all sorts of intestines. I skipped those and got this sheet of delicious fiber — along with the mushrooms and chili oil keeps one fully regular. Notice that I again ordered the baloney.
Overall, this was probably the best Szechuan style hot pot I’ve had, up there with my friend Wendy’s epic home cooked New Years hot pot (which isn’t spicy, but had really good stuff). I think Shancheng Lameizi was actually better than the place we went in Chengdu and definitely a little better than my local favorite Hai di Lao. The atmosphere was very Chinese, the ingredient quality was excellent, service good, they allowed us to open our wine ($10 corkage, which they might not have even charged), the broth, particularly the spicy broth was insanely good, and the sauce bar was unparalleled for blending weird intense Chinese flavors. Now, do bear in mind, that given the super spicy soup base, and my thick chili laden slurry of sauces that what goes in the pot is largely about texture. lol.
Apparently there is a branch at Valley and San Gabriel, right near the Crack House, Shaanxi Garden, etc. When I went 2 weeks later it was just as good! Very crowded at lunch too (and this is a HEAVY lunch!). I’ve now been at least 5 times and it’s always great.
Oh, and do bear in mind that hot pot like this is a form of high fat “cleanse.” As they say at Killer Noodle, “mind your bottom!”
This minimall is hilarious. Tons of different places. Don’t know what this kind of BBQ is (appears to be a Chinese take on Yakitori), but the slogan is amusing.
This old school 50s or 60s place has become a Benihana clone — but more Chinese.