I hate it when people ask me what the best Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles is. Give me a category and I can throw out a few suggestions. But sometimes I manage to get myself cornered into that question and well, lately I’ve been shouting out Yunkun Garden as my all-time favorite. But that’s because I’m personally a sucker for chilis.
This photograph is exactly why. I went the other day for lunch and we ordered their crispy chicken. Let’s just say that this was enough to keep me smiling for the rest of the day.
For some seriously spicy Chinese food, try Yunkun Garden (formerly known as Yunan Garden or Yunchuan Garden) on Garfield in Monterey Park. It’s a Yunnan and Sichuan restaurant — which just means really spicy. We all know that Sichuan is synonymous with spicy. As for Yunnan, I usually associated it with yak and goat milk (because of the ethnic minorities in the region). None of the sort at Yunkun Garden, but there is a fair amount of both Yunnan and Sichuan dishes. Like Sichuan cuisine, Yunnan food is spicy with a lot of mushrooms involved.
And tongue-numbing peppercorns and chili oil galore. But don’t worry. There’s tons of non-spicy options here and the menu indicates spice levels. I was introduced to this place by Danny of KungFoodPanda and was thoroughly impressed.
Located near the intersection of Garvey and Garfield (it’s across the street from Dean Sin World), Yukun Garden is a pretty standard Chinese restaurant in terms of atmosphere. No fancy, wedding banquet-esque vibe here. It’s a good casual stop after work with dishes within the $6-$11 mark. Family-style, of course.
Start off with some cold appetizers ($3.20) that you can choose from the front of the store. We opted for the pig ears with chili oil and some marinated beef slices.
I absolutely loved the Yunnan House Special Rice Noodle Soup ($6.75), or 过桥米线 (literally means “Across The Bridge Noodles”. It’s a classic Yunnan dish with thin pork slices, tender bamboo shoots and rice noodles. Great appetizer for the table. The broth exudes the same type of comfort level as a good cup of chicken noodle soup. We had a party of five and there was more than enough to go around.
The seafood three flavors ($10.95) with crispy rice was another non-spicy dish with a white fish, mushrooms, squid, bamboo shoots, thin slices of carrots over puffed rice.
Cured pork with mushrooms ($9.95) was my least favorite dish. The cured slices of pork were a bit too tough and salty to bite into (think salty pork jerky), but others would strongly disagree. It came with mushrooms, but the composition is mostly pork than mushrooms.
Next for the more spicier fare and my absolute favorites. Boiled Fish ($9.95) and Spicy Shrimp ($10.95) with a heavy emphasis on the spice. Be sure to order plenty of ice cold water for the table. You’ll need it for both of these dishes. The doused-in-chili-oil white fish is flaky and the shrimp is sufficiently juicy. Just don’t cram it all in once. It might be painful.
Total was $60.90 (including tax) for a party of five with plenty of leftovers. Strongly recommended.
Yun Chuan Garden
301 N. Garfield Avenue, Ste. D102
Monterey Park, CA 91754