Spicy City opened up semi-recently in The Great Mall of China aka 99 Ranch Plaza on the corner of Del Mar and Valley. I believe it took the place of a fairly old Taiwanese o ah mi sua (oyster vermicelli) restaurant. Will and I visited for a spur of the moment lunch this weekend and were less than impressed.
The typical cold appetizer 3-way combo was at the back of the restaurant. You may need to flag someone down to help dish the stuff up, but luckily it’s close to the kitchen and cashier, so there’s always someone who can help. I got the cold bamboo, brined string beans, and fried tofu. The overwhelming flavor of all three was salt, but they had some differences. The string beans were crispy and savory, just what I expected. The tofu had an interesting chewy and dry texture. I wonder if this is the vegetarian equivalent of the dry sliced beef that’s usually at the cold plates table. The bamboo would have been better if it were not so salty.
Will ordered the cold Szechuan noodle, which was a surprisingly large bowl of noodles. The undissolved sugar crystals added an interesting crunch to each bite, but the entire bowl was tipping heavily toward the over-salted side. He liked that the noodles were chewy, but thought that they were dangerously close to being chewy in an underdone kind of way.
I ordered the crossing bridge noodles. What?! Yes, that’s what I said. Crossing Bridge Noodles is more of a Yunnan specialty, why would I be ordering it at a Szechuan restaurant? Normally, I wouldn’t, but considering the first page of their menu was dedicated to this humble bowl of noodles in chicken broth, I just had to try it. I did and it was okay. There wasn’t anything wrong with the bowl. The waitress brought it out in the usual style, with the soup, noodles, and toppings separate, to be mixed together at the table. The chicken was tender and flavorful, the soup was not too heavy on msg, the rice noodles were plenty, but something was missing. I was expecting some flavorful slices of ham or smoked pork in there, and instead I had some flavorless slices of pork.
Spicy City was not technically bad, but I wouldn’t get off the freeway for the sole purpose of visiting this city. If one were already in the area and wanted something spicy, maybe. But in the Great Mall of China, where the options are plenty, I’d say this place is skippable based on the stuff that I’ve had. Still, I’m glad I went here, if only so I can stop wondering if this place was any good. Now I know if I want this type of food, I should just go to Lucky Noodle King down the street.
140 W Valley Blvd
San Gabriel, CA 91776