Restaurant: Lucky Noodle King
Location: 534 E Valley Blvd #10, San Gabriel, CA 91776. (626) 573-5668
Date: March 11 & May 6, 2015
Cuisine: Szechuan Chinese
Rating: Amazing Dan Dan
I had a craving for Chinese noodles so strong I drove 60 miles round trip by myself for them! Well, not just for any noodles, but for what Jonathan Gold describes as “the best Dan Dan in LA.”
Located in the same mini-mall as Hunan Chili King, the location isn’t much to look at.
Although I find this kind of “authentic” SGV homey and comfortable. Oh, and see those dishes on the wall? That’s about a quarter of the “decorations.” We ordered by saying, “bring us the wall.” (i.e. every pictured dish)!
Everyone gets this starter, spicy pickled cabbage with peanuts. You might say, ick, but it was actually delicious. There was Szechuan peppercorn in there and it had this delight interplay of crunch and numbing spice.
NV Camille Savès Champagne Brut Grand Cru Rosé. Burghound 93. Savès typically makes a relatively deeply colored rosé by the standards of the genre and this latest version is no exception. The cool and distinctly pinot nose also reflects notes of various red berry fruit aromas though notes of yeast are discernible. The delicious, intense and very crisp flavors are underpinned by a fine effervescence that is perfect for the mouth feel of a rosé that is actually much more vinous than most examples, in particular because there is a wonderfully savory quality to the long finish that practically begs for another sip. Lovely stuff that could be enjoyed now or aged, though it is so good presently that I doubt that a case would make it much past a year or so in my cellar
Pork potstickers. Fairly typical versions.
2003 Joh. Jos. Prüm Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Spätlese. 90 points. Some spritz in the initial glass — nose of honey and peach with some sulfur. very nice palate — medium acidity — not quite enough, but almost there. honeydew melon with a sprinkle of sugar, other melon flavors, tropical fruit, peach, and red apple. i really liked the taste of this, even if the nose wasn’t anything special. shortish finish leaves you wanting another sip — at 8% alcohol.
Numb taste wontons. Nice soft pork wontons coated in…
Chili oil. There was some Szechuan peppercorn action here.
2007 Reinhold Haart Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Riesling Spätlese. JG 93. 85 grams per liter residual sugar. Haart reports that the grapes were picked two weeks after the Kabinett and showed higher-than-average must weight. Fine petrol and mineral aromas open into a dazzling purity of concentrated stone fruit and green-gage plum, with notes of earth and mushroom appearing on the long, refined finish.
Beef, beef tendons, tofu. This cold dish was dominated by chile and cilantro.
Stir fried shredded pork with dried bean curd. I thought I’d like this dish, and I was right. A slightly sweet savory pork with that stiff tofu, night textural counter point. Even the crunch of the celery and the chew of the greens went nicely.
2003 Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Auslese. 90 points. The best parcel of Schlossberg was harvested November 19 in a single pass as an experiment in block picking, which was standard practice until recent times. “We gambled and we were lucky,” says Selbach. The varied condition of the bunches-“without any skimming or homogenization,” in the winemaker’s words-is directly mirrored in the wine’s complexity, with fresh tropical fruit and citrus notes; spiced, baked and dried orchard fruits; and honey-drenched, ennobled white raisins all taking a turn in the spotlight. That said, the overall impression, without lacking elegance, is certainly fatter and softer than the norm here this year, which may of course say as much about the lateness of the picking as it does about its comprehensiveness. The texture is also uniquely doughy, with a lovely, subtle chewiness. Potential 2 stars.
Pork intestine with pickled pepper. A spicy mix of pig guts and whatnot. The sauce was pretty good and the chitlins had this earthy flavor — not my thing.
From my cellar: 2000 Trimbach Pinot Gris Sélection de Grains Nobles. VM 93-95. Bright medium gold. Superripe aromas of apricot jam, exotic spices, honey and tobacco; just misses the clarity of the best SGN bottlings from this producer. Very dense but not hugely unctuous thanks to firm, perfectly integrated acidity. Sappy, vibrant and very long on the aftertaste.
Ma-Po Tofu. I always order this when I can. This was a nice version. Not the best I’ve ever had, but darn good. I could just have used a bit more numbing (like Chengdu — well, that’s more than a bit more numbing). And there was a good amount of SMG (probably), or at least salt. But it got my head sweating a bit.
Dan dan noodles. This is what the trip was all about. Soft noodles, lots of meat, peanuts, some peanut or sesame goop, mustard, green onions, and chili oil.
You mix it up into this incredibly savory porridge of meat, spice, and carbs. It’s super addictive, tasting just ok on the first bite and getting better and better as you work through the bowl.
Noodles with meat soy sauce. Sort of Szechuan spaghetti Bolognese. Not spicy, but rich and tasty.
ChongQing sour & Spicy cold noodles. These classic mung bean noodles are covered in a tangy spicy sauce with both chile and numbing heat. Yum.
2011 Domaine Joseph Roty Marsannay. Burghound 87. A mildly toasty nose of red currant and dark pinot fruit gives way to energetic and quite fresh middle weight flavors that possess acceptably good depth on the moderately long, clean, cool and balanced finish where a bit of oak toast surfaces. This is both slightly rustic and austere though there is very solid length.
ChongQuing Spicy Chicken. Very fried chicken with aromatic peppers. This was some fabulous fried chicken — very fried — with a nice delicate pepper flavor.
Have some peppers!
2009 Gaston & Pierre Ravaut Ladoix 1er Cru Les Basses Mourotttes. I’ve never even heard of this appelation — or if I did I forgot it.
Cumin lamb. The traditional wet form of this dish. Hot with a lot of cumin.
Stir fried pork belly with vegetables. Bacon and greens?
2011 Cameron Pinot Noir Arley’s Leap. 90 points. Clear, light ruby color. Bold spice elements (tobacco, black pepper, oregano, pickled peppers) accenting the bright cranberry and red plum fruit, hints of light roast coffee. Bright acid makes this refreshing to drink, fine-grain tannins help as well. The red plum, cranberry and red cherry fruit is crunchy and fresh, gliding across the palate. This wine has a whole lot of pickling spices and mineral notes working for it, and it’s hitting all the right spots. Cool, clean, complex yet elegant. Ready to drink now but the stuffing for some near-term aging is here. From the highest vines in the Abbey Ridge Vineyard, this is a stunner for my palate.
Not sure what meat this was, beef or pork. It had a lot of flavor though and was fairly mild.
Crazy flavor in savory spiced eel. I admit, I wanted to order this dish — but I regretted it. Not only was it spicy and VERY oily, but it had this fishy flavor that made me nervous.
2009 Alban Vineyards Syrah Reva Alban Estate Vineyard. VM 93-97. Inky purple. Alban’s 2009 Syrah Reva is drop-dead gorgeous. Sumptuous, layered and absolutely impeccable, the 2009 boasts stunning depth and richness but it is never overdone or excessively heavy. Today, the aromas and flavors remain intensely primary, so readers will have to be patient. Still, the Reva is simply thrilling, pretty much as it always has been from barrel. As compelling as Alban’s higher-end Syrahs are, in 2009 I prefer the Reva, as it is the most polished, impeccable and balanced wine in the range. It will be interesting to follow the development of these wines over the next few years.
Twice cooked pork. This was some tough old pig. Very “gamey” and not in a great way.
Fish filet w/ spicy sauce. The sauce was excellent with a lot of numbing peppercorn.
Braised Beef noodles. Like a Pho basically. Quite nice.
Tomato & Fried egg noodles. Different, and not bad at all.
Contrary to internet complaints, the service was excellent. But for me, the single lady was extremely nice and friendly — and the food came out fast and hot. They were extremely on top of it (by SGV standards).
Lucky Noodle King is a homestyle place, and some of the dishes are great. Most of the noodle dishes (particularly the Dan Dan), the fried chicken, etc. Some of the dishes were fine, like the cumin beef, or the Ma Po tofu. However, their meat quality isn’t the highest, so there was a gamey factor with a bunch of dishes and they are heavy handed with the chili oil. Not that I mind the spice, but the ill feeling after Szechuan is directly related to the amount of chili oil consumed.
For most dishes, Spicy City and several other places are a bit better.