Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Too Bad Hot Isn't a Synonym for Spicy in Chinese: Boiling Point in Monterey Park (沸點臭臭鍋)
It's really a shame that I don't make the trek out to San Gabriel Valley (SGV) for Chinese food more often. I'm constantly complaining about the Chinese offerings on the Westside, but it's hard for me to find opportunities to travel East. In my mind, Chinese is always best enjoyed communally; at a dinner for two, there isn't enough variety. That's why I cherish my trips back to the Bay Area for a chance to see my family and eat Chinese. Additionally, my Chinese is too pathetic to order anything interesting, so I've been reluctant to climb into a restaurant that caters to the ethnic Chinese. In one embarrassing incident, my Mandarin was so terrible that the woman thought I was speaking Cantonese and gave me a chicken leg instead of a pork chop. It took a Korean, Christine, to show me a hot pot restaurant in SGV. Can I get some love from any other American Born Chinese who can't read menus?
We came on Tuesday for their hot pot lunch special. What was normally $9.99 was discounted a dollar and supplemented with a free drink. While Christine insisted on the available garlic sauce, spicy bean paste, and spicy oil, I was perfectly content with the seasonings that came in the pot.
In fact, I questioned whether it's healthy to ingest something so dark red. Christine would call me a complainer, but her idea of "complaints" are more of what I consider "observations" for my health.
Each person receives a personal pot loaded with ingredients. Pork intestines, tomato, fish cake, napa cabbage, enoki mushrooms, sliced pork, fish balls, floated in the crimson soup. Below those treasures, I excavated blocks of stinky tofu (臭豆腐). This was the first time I encountered stinky tofu hot pot. It's amazing what you miss out on when you don't explore this culinary cornucopia called LA. As the name would imply, stinky tofu is rather robust in fragrance. The smell is fairly strong, but the taste is much more mild. It takes tofu to a whole new level in my opinion, since tofu is normally so bland.
I ordered the spicy pot, and it was just at the level of enjoyable for me. A milder one wouldn't have had enough flavor, but anything hotter would've been unbearable. I believe that pork intestines are best enjoyed in preparations like this--simmering in a spicy broth. Overall, I had a great lunch, but I wonder now if I'll experience any regrets the next day.
Boiling Point (沸點臭臭鍋)
153 Garvey Ave
Monterey Park, 91755
$8.99 lunch special