Restaurant: Chengdu Impression
Location: 21 E Huntington Dr, Arcadia, CA 91006. (626) 462-9999
Date: November 7, 2021 and May 1, 2022
Cuisine: Sichuan Chinese
Rating: Great kitchen, terrible service
I wanted to go here for years but a combination of distance, the pandemic, and the challenge of getting Sichuan groups together made it a bit hard. Finally I got here in late 2021 and the kitchen was so good we swore to go again.
It’s located in the North SGV, more Arcadia, on a busy street.
The interior is modern and deserted. Both times almost no other customers. They have 2 privates rooms as well.
This is the upstairs. The first time we ate up here.
The second time we had the large private room.
This is the menu — however, both times, despite my attempts in advance to pre-order stuff, they were “out” of a mysterious range of items. I think it’s staff shortages in the kitchen honestly.
Cold Tossed Cucumber. The second time we tried to order this (on the second visit) they were “out” supposedly because the chef declared that the sauce was “too complicated.” This has to be some kind of staff shortage.
Hot and Sour Jelly Noodle. Good, but could have used a bit more sour to my taste. Texture was on point. Notice the take out container. They really wanted to service us everything in these crap containers with plastic forks and spoons. I went and had a talk with the manager and only by playing up the blog card managed to get them to use real plates. I think they have returned their rental dishwasher or something.
Sliced Pork Belly with Spicy Garlic Sauce. The sauce in particular was incredible. Really awesome and on the second visit when we tried to reorder, again the chef declared the sauce “too complicated” and wouldn’t serve it. Weird!
Boiled Pork Dumplings. Because they were out of the wontons on the first visit. These were basic.
But on the second visit we managed to get wontons! Numbing Spicy Wonton. Nice soft wrapper, very intense numbing sauce (almost a soup).
Couples Sliced Beef and Tripe. Good sauce, beef was a bit tough.
Chinese bread for the beef.
Pungent and Spicy Chicken. Sauce was full of chilis and quite excellent. I particularly liked the bamboo shoots in here.
Chicken in Chili Sauce. Different, less “oily” variant than I usually find.
Cold Chicken Noodles. Really excellent noodle dish with that sweet and tangy quality.
Sliced Sole Filet and Tofu in Sichuan Peppercorn Sauce. Delicious and perfect rendition of the dish. Super moist and soft fish with lots of numbing. Not as spicy as Sichuan Impression.
Kung Pao Shrimp. Delicate and almost floral. Incredible version. There might be some lychee in here for sweetness.
Spicy Lobster (preorder). Nice tender meat and good flavor. They did charge a LOT for this, however. Pre-ordered and brought too early because they can’t resist bringing the pre-order stuff.
Bullfrog Dry Pot with Sichuan Vegetables. Awesome version of this dish, particularly the crunchy lotus root and soft potato.
Braised Sea Cucumber with Minced Pork. The pork was awesome. The cucumber was a bit chewy (and not so strong on flavor).
Bullfrog Stewed with Spicy Ginger Broth. One of the classic Sichuan Bullfrog variants. Quite nice meat.
Beef Tendon. Very jiggly, but nice.
Shredded Beef with Sour Sauce. Interesting.
Chengdu Style Beef Jerky. Very dry but a lot of flavor.
Honey Roasted Duck (Pre-order). Really excellent, super jucy sweet duck. Polarizing as Yarom and David didn’t like the sweet. The rest of us loved it.
Country Style Sliced Pork with Shisito Peppers. Excellent meat with great salty flavor.
Angus Beef Ribs. Interesting. Very fatty, but quite a lot of flavor.
Crispy Spciy Diced Chicken. Fabulous version of this dish with plenty of aromatic chili vibe and a very darkly 2-3 time fried chicken.
Wok Fried Cabbage with Garlic and Minced Pork. Super delicious with a nice crunch and good pork flavor.
Twice Cooked Pork. Perfect. Leeks were great.
Dan Dan Mein.
Mixed up. The flavor was quite good, if a touch sweet.
Mapo Tofu. Very good version of the dish. Not that hot, but lots of numbing and deep flavor.
Raspberry Sorbetto — French Raspberries, a touch of lime juice, and a splash of Amaro — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — I had to add a bit of Amaro for my “art” otherwise it would have been too simple — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #sorbetto #raspberry #amaro
Hazelnut at the Ritz Gelato — Nocciola (hazelnut) custard base made with Pure PGI Piedmont hazelnut paste then mixed with house-made caramel and crushed Ritz Crackers (for that salty offset) — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #hazelnut #nocciola #caramel #caramello #ritz #crackers
My son’s favorite — Triple Chocolate Cloud Gelato – The base is made with Valrhona 62% Satilla Chocolate and then layered with Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese Ganache and chopped Oreos! — made by me for @sweetmilkgelato — #SweetMilkGelato #gelato #dessert #icecream #FrozenDessert #nomnom #dessertlovers #dessertporn #icecreamlovers #gelatoitaliano #foodporn #gelatolover #food #foodgasm #foodblogger #dessertgasm #desserttime #foodphotography #gelatoartigianale #gelatomania #dessertlover #icecream #icecreamlovers #Valrhona #chocolate #oreos #ganache #icing #NestléCrunch
So in summary:
I think the actual Sichuan kitchen here is great, maybe the best I’ve had in the greater LA area. But there are serious problems with the operation.
They are clearly “barely in business.” The restaurant is empty and given how crowded most SGV restaurants are this is hardly a good sign. They tried both times to serve on plastic wares. The front of house staff, while friendly, lounged around a good deal of the time. They didn’t replace plates, clear stuff very often, or bring napkins etc. We had to constantly go out to find them to get things and to order — only to discover them chatting with each other in the hall. The kitchen was out of items both times. Oddly out of stuff. We also had a third “failed” dinner between these two where they canceled it on us because they were “doing renovations.” I suspect they were just short staffed or had some permitting issue. The unavailability of basic dishes like cold cucumbers because the sauce was “too complicated” was laughable. Even in the private room where they will give you real plates they gave us mostly plastic silverware.
Additionally, the second visit was oddly expensive. It seems they priced the pre-order dishes (like the lobster and duck) really high. Maybe $200-300+ for just the lobster!
Anyway, it’s really a shame that they have these logistical issues because the subtlety of the cooking is for the most part very good and they do have a lot of interesting items on the menu (when they are in “stock”).
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