There used to be a strange sounding Chinese restaurant bearing the word “Denmark” in its name and serving steak on their menu. I wasn’t ever curious enough to try it out but when it shuttered and a new Hunan place sprung in its stead, I was game. If there was going to be a good Hunan restaurant near my house, I wanted to be the first to know.
On my first visit there, the restaurant was a little disorganized. I saw that the table seated next to me got an interesting fish dish that I wanted to try too, but when I attempted to order it, the waiter admitted that they couldn’t make another serving because they couldn’t defrost the fish quickly enough. When I asked if the corn in the corn and pine nuts dish was fresh, he said of course it was fresh — they get a fresh bag of frozen corn with each produce order. The waiter was amazed when I told him it was possible to buy corn by the cob.
Although my conversation with the waiter left me a little apprehensive, I ordered food anyway.
The star of that meal was the hot and sour stir fried tendon. Its rich, savory flavor was heightened by the powerful chili peppers and slight dash of vinegar. The tendon itself was not melt-in-your-mouth soft, but had a satisfying chew. I ordered this medium spicy and it had enough kick to give me pause. By the time I got halfway through this dish, I was in pain but couldn’t stop eating it once the heat in my mouth died down.
Will ordered a few modified-to-be-vegetarian dishes that were decent. The sliced tofu stir fried with green pepper was simple, but good and with a moderate amount of heat. The stir fried napa cabbage with chili peppers was surprisingly good even though it sounded boring. The fish-fragrant eggplant was supposed to be made vegetarian by omitting the meat, but it came with ground pork on it anyway. Even with the pork, it didn’t taste that good.
The second time I visited, I ordered another round of the tendon, also medium spicy and it was even spicier than the first time. As usual, I couldn’t stop eating it even though my mouth was in serious pain.
Because we had more diners at the table, I was also able to order one of their specials: steamed fish head. It was gigantic, with a good amount of meat on the head. Picking the tender, perfectly spiced meat off the bones reminded me of eating tender fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs. If there’s more than 3 people in your party who likes fish, I would recommend getting this dish.
For the vegetarian at the table, we got the stir fried cauliflower with chili peppers. The florets were tender but still had a little bite to them and the chili gave it a different flavor than I’m used to when eating cauliflower. I thought the spice went well to cut down on the slightly stinky sulfur taste of cauliflower.
We also ordered the water-boiled preserved bamboo, which had a good flavor, but was a little tough to chew in some spots. I don’t know if some of the bamboo was too dry or if the dish was supposed to be that chewy, but the pieces that were tender were pretty good.
Then there was the marinated Hunan noodle, which came with one type of noodles the first time I ordered it, and then came with a different type the second time. I preferred the noodles from the second time because they were a bit thicker and had a chewy al dente texture that highlighted the cold, tender slices of braised beef laid on top. If I were dining on my own, I’d probably just order that dish for a comforting lunch.
There were some inconsistencies amongst dishes the two times I’ve visited Hunan Spicy Taste, but it’s close enough in the neighborhood and new enough that I’m willing to give them some leeway.
Hunan Spicy Taste
120 N San Gabriel Blvd
Ste C & D
San Gabriel, CA 91775