138 E Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91755
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Hengyang Chili King

Neighborhoods: Alhambra
Cuisine: Hunan, Chinese, Asian

Offer Available!
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pleasurepalate

 Los Angeles, CA
 

Heating it Up at Henyang Chili

One major perk of living in the San Gabriel Valley is the sheer availability of Chinese restaurants representing various regional Chinese cooking. I’ve eaten my way through Shanghainese, Sczechwan, Cantonese, Yunnan foods and more. For one particular outing, I took my dining group to Henyang Chili King to check out Hunan Cuisine. My last experience with Hunan food was at Hunan Seafood Restaurant in Rosemead, which definitely had its hits and misses, so I was looking forward to what this other restaurant would bring to the table. Literally! To learn more about Hunan Cuisine in general, click here and click here for more info.

I first found out about Henyang Chili King from a Jonathan Gold article, so I based our menu around the dishes he highlighted. Since then, I also came upon a blog posting by Sinsoul and wished that I was able to incorporate some of his mentions as well, but that’ll just have to be for a return visit. Anyway, to start our meal, we were served a complementary appetizer of boiled peanuts and pickled veggies. It was nice to start off with something with more neutral flavors, especially since Hunan cuisine is known for its bold flavors.

My group shared a total of 11 dishes that evening, but considering that there’s over 170 dishes to choose from on the menu, we only had a small fraction of what was offered. The first plate to land on our table was the cauliflower cooked in “pork oil” and crunchy lardons, which are basically cubed pork. Cauliflower is a bland vegetable on its own, but in this dish, it absorbed a lot of porky goodness from the oil and was simply irresistible.

Following the Cauliflower came the Cumin Lamb. The meat was tender and the flavors of the cumin, the garlic and the cilantro came together and danced on your taste buds.

Arriving with the Cumin Lamb was the Bangly with Chicken dish. Bangly refers to chestnuts. This particular item had a brown sauce that had a hint of sweetness to it and went perfectly with the slight, starchy sweetness of the chestnuts. Also, if you have one or two people who can’t handle spicy food, this is a good option to order for them.

Unfortunately, the Shredded Squid with Bamboo Shoots was disappointing. First, the dish name was off since the squid wasn’t actually shredded and were more akin to chopped tentacles that seemed more octopus than squid-like. Also, those tentacles were very, very chewy. I don’t mind mind a chewy texture, but that was just too much. Another thing to note was that while the bamboo shoots did make an experience, I think celery really was more present than the latter and in the end, the flavors were just really bland.

Flavor wasn’t a problem with the Spicy Whole Fish that we had ordered. In fact, the sauce that was poured over the fish did have a fiery kick to it, which was balanced with a little sweetness and tasted quite nicely poured over some of my steamed rice. The only issue I had was the fish itself. It was really bony and was more bone than actual meat. Interestingly enough, this was the same problem I experienced at the last Hunan meal I had at Hunan Seafood Restaurant.

The Dried Cucumber tossed with shredded fresh shiso was solid and I appreciated the fact that cucumber itself weren’t overcooked and still had a slight crunchy texture.

Both the Hot and Spicy Tofu and House Special Spicy Over Spicy dishes supplied a nice hit of heat to our palates, but I do have a question to those of you who have been to Henyang Chili King before. Do any of you actually know what type of meat was used in the House Special Spicy over Spicy dish? Although we ordered and enjoyed eating it, we weren’t quite sure what we were eating at time. We tried asking our waitress, but her English was limited and she couldn’t tell us. Ground pork and cubed pork was my best guess.

I was one of the few of my dining partners who enjoyed the Bitter Melon sauteed with Chinese sausage, but that can be attributed to my growing up eating this particular vegetable. However, I should mention that I would have liked the bitter melon to be a bit more bitter than it actually was, but if it was, that may have been an issue with the rest of the group.

The Sauteed Preserved Meat dish was okay. Not a fav, but not bad either. My only issue was that the preserved meat, which was pork, was a little too salty for me personally, but eating it with rice helped cut down that saltiness a bit.

Our final dish of the night was Stewed Wild Pumpkin. Although this dish was called Wild Pumpkin, I think it’s actually more of a butternut squash. I liked the sweetness of the squash, but the entire dish was over cooked to the point of mushiness. Mushy is just not that appealing.

Overall, I enjoyed my meal at Henyang Chili King and for me, it’s a much better Hunan restaurant option than the last one I went to. I would definitely make a return visit and considering that there are over 150 items still left on the menu to try, at least, I know there’ll always be variety with every meal.

Cumin Lamb at  Hengyang Chili King

Cumin Lamb

The meat was tender and the flavors of the cumin, the garlic and the cilantro came together and danced on your taste buds.

Bangly with Chicken at  Hengyang Chili King

Bangly with Chicken

Bangly refers to chestnuts. This particular item had a brown sauce that had a hint of sweetness to it and went perfectly with the slight, starchy sweetness of the chestnuts.

Shredded Squid with Bamboo Shoots at  Hengyang Chili King

Shredded Squid with Bamboo Shoots

Unfortunately, the Shredded Squid with Bamboo Shoots was disappointing. First, the dish name was off since the squid wasn’t actually shredded and were more akin to chopped tentacles that seemed more octopus than squid-like. Also, those tentacles were very, very chewy. I don’t mind mind a chewy texture, but that was just too much. Another thing to note was that while the bamboo shoots did make an experience, I think celery really was more present than the latter and in the end, the flavors were just really bland.

Stewed Wild Pumpkin at  Hengyang Chili King

Stewed Wild Pumpkin

Our final dish of the night was Stewed Wild Pumpkin. Although this dish was called Wild Pumpkin, I think it’s actually more of a butternut squash. I liked the sweetness of the squash, but the entire dish was over cooked to the point of mushiness. Mushy is just not that appealing.

Dried Cucumber at  Hengyang Chili King

Dried Cucumber

The Dried Cucumber tossed with shredded fresh shiso was solid and I appreciated the fact that cucumber itself weren’t overcooked and still had a slight crunchy texture.

Hot and Spicy Tofu at  Hengyang Chili King

Hot and Spicy Tofu

Hot and Spicy Tofu supplied a nice hit of heat to our palates,

Bitter Melon with Chinese Sausage at  Hengyang Chili King

Bitter Melon with Chinese Sausage

I was one of the few of my dining partners who enjoyed the Bitter Melon sauteed with Chinese sausage, but that can be attributed to my growing up eating this particular vegetable. However, I should mention that I would have liked the bitter melon to be a bit more bitter than it actually was, but if it was, that may have been an issue with the rest of the group.

Sauteed Preserved Meat  at  Hengyang Chili King

Sauteed Preserved Meat

The Sauteed Preserved Meat dish was okay. Not a fav, but not bad either. My only issue was that the preserved meat, which was pork, was a little too salty for me personally, but eating it with rice helped cut down that saltiness a bit.

Boiled Peanuts and Pickled Veggies at  Hengyang Chili King

Boiled Peanuts and Pickled Veggies

Anyway, to start our meal, we were served a complementary appetizer of boiled peanuts and pickled veggies. It was nice to start off with something with more neutral flavors, especially since Hunan cuisine is known for its bold flavors.
Spicy Whole Fish at  Hengyang Chili King

Spicy Whole Fish

Flavor wasn’t a problem with the Spicy Whole Fish that we had ordered. In fact, the sauce that was poured over the fish did have a fiery kick to it, which was balanced with a little sweetness and tasted quite nicely poured over some of my steamed rice. The only issue I had was the fish itself. It was really bony and was more bone than actual meat.

Cauliflower with Lardons at  Hengyang Chili King

Cauliflower with Lardons

The first plate to land on our table was the cauliflower cooked in “pork oil” and crunchy lardons, which are basically cubed pork. Cauliflower is a bland vegetable on its own, but in this dish, it absorbed a lot of porky goodness from the oil and was simply irresistible.

ronsmeetup photo

ronsmeetup

 Rosemead, CA
 

BAD- we were only table served that night!

I rate this 1 1/2 due to pathetic service, and greasy bad tasting food!

I went there as part of a MeetUp group!
This was the 3rd week of March, 09!
There were 11 people!

To state how popular Hengyang is, there was one table of 4 Alcoholic Chinese men- drinking and kibitzing.
The near 1 1/2 Hours we were there no other customers!

The service was Pathetic.
Imagine the waitress ( with bad attitude) with but one table- and pathetic service!

One would imagine then attentive service, well guess again – as Tea Cups were empty!

For sure, I will never eat there!
The next day, I personally had digestive tract stress!!!

The dishes cooked in OIL- were very greasy, and seemed like rancid oil- the taste masked by Chili and MSG and spices to me!

Since the Organizer of this group also runs a Food Review site, I would have expected something better than this as a Choice of Chinese, with literally hundreds of Chinese Restaurants around SGV

I parked on the street, but would imagine there is a back lot..

NOTE: the specialty menu is posted in Chinese on the wall…may be a bit difficult if you don’t read Chinese, but they do have another translated one.
So the Order was made- which I had no say, or another woman at table…

Ordered was:
sauteed cauliflower with pork oil, the hot & spicy tofu, the spicy whole fish (very bony and cremated), and the bangly with chicken, Spicy Tofu, Cumin Lamb, and Spicy on Spicy, Dried Cucumbers (which weren’t dry at all), the Shredded Squid, the Bitter Mellon with Chinese Sausage, and the Preserved Meat…

My take was the Chili Dishes with rancid oils, and or saturated lard were greasy with a terrible and rotten taste!

Some dishes had no flavor at all!
Most oil dishes all tasted the same: Greasy and Rancid to me!

To me some of the non oil dishes were average at best. Very heavy on the oil to saturate your chapped lips.

**This restaurant is for the hardcore Chinese food purist, only, who appreciates BAD food- that these so called experts would call Bistro…

Not sure how much MSG, but for sure it was there.

I have been to Chengdu 3 times and have eaten then some authentic Food~ I have had Hot Spiced Chili food, but personally tend to not want food cooked in Lard or Rancid Greese…

The bill was divided I believe 10 ways, my share I left $15.00

I left this meetup also…

Beware of Yelp reviews~ you can be blindsided!!!

NEVER AGAIN @ this Chili Joint!
~

From:
(taken from Jonathan Gold’s LA Weekly Review)

Excerpt:\
if you’re not careful, you can end up with a tableful of what is essentially the same dish, rabbit or lamb or preserved pork or fried eggs or duck tongues or splintery chunks of frog, stir-fried with a colorful mosaic of garlic and hot chopped peppers. The basic formula is delicious, a real wonder to behold, but it gets monotonous after the fourth or fifth iteration if you don’t vary it with something like stewed wild pumpkin farmer-style; sliced dried cucumber tossed with shredded fresh shiso; a wintery stew of chicken with chestnuts, translated as “bangly” on the menu; or cauliflower in “pork oil,” cooked with enough crunchy lardons to power a dozen French salads.

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Hengyang Chili King is located near the cities of Southwest San Gabriel Valley, South San Gabriel, Alhambra, San Gabriel, and Rosemead.
People found this by searching for: Chinese Sausage, Cumin Lamb, Chilli, Spicy Tofu, Bangly, Stewed Pumpkin, and Hot And Spicy Tofu.