A couple of weeks ago, S and I went with a couple of our friends to check out the San Diego Night Market in the Zion parking lot… and were sorely disappointed by the lack of variety in food booths, the food booths running out of most items, the long lines, and huge crowd. I didn’t even bother taking many photos, and we pretty much went straight from the Zion parking lot to grab dinner elsewhere. Since we’ve been curious about the recently-opened FuAn Garden nearby (which took place of BBQ Chicken), and my friend and I are both spicy food enthusiasts, we decided to go and check it out.
I read from Kirk’s post that the owner of FuAn Garden is a former prep cook at Ba Ren, a Szechuan place that was quite popular but closed before I ever got a chance to try it. Actually, I’ve heard several differing opinions on Ba Ren… S has been there and didn’t enjoy it much – he didn’t feel like it was very authentic or spicy enough, but some of our other friends swear by it. I’ve also heard that Ba Ren has gone through several changes in ownership, so that could be a contributing factor to the differences in opinions.
Normally, I like to try the cold appetizers at Szechuan restaurants, since it’s usually pretty cheap (choose three items for $6 or so) and can give you a pretty good idea of how good the food is. Unfortunately, we arrived at the restaurant pretty close to closing time (~9:30PM), so there wasn’t much to choose from the in the standard “cold dishes” bar. I was sad to see that they ran out of my favorite, cold cut beef & tendon slices (Fu Qi Fei Pian 夫妻肺片), so we decided to forgo the cold appetizers and order an extra entrée instead. The four of us each chose one dish…
S’s pick was the Twice-Cooked Pork – one of our favorite dishes at Chinese restaurants. It’s made with a slab of pork belly simmered in water with spices, then sliced into thin pieces and fried in a wok with vegetables. In this case, they added ginger, bell peppers, and garlic sprouts, which I really loved. The dish was super flavorful, and the portion size was decent as well.We asked our waitress to recommend a lamb dish, and she mentioned homestyle lamb so we went with the suggestion. Basically it’s wok-fried lamb slices, with plenty of cilantro, peppers, and dried chilis. We’ve ordered a similar dish at Spicy City, where it’s about 20% lamb and 80% spices & chilis, so I was really glad that they actually give you plenty of meat here. The taste was quite good – the thin lamb slices are prone to overcook, but they did a great job here.