Sweat. Flaring nostrils. Tearing eyes. Those are only some of the reactions your body will involuntarily respond with when you step foot into the appropriately monikered Spicy City restaurant in San Gabriel. Prepare to be greeted by a spicy cloud of Sichuan pepper vapor.
Spicy City is a Chinese restaurant that turns up the heat to mala (Mandarin for numbingly spicy). This hot spot specializes in the blazing cuisines of Sichuan and Hunan. And, in fact, the entire glossy picture menu is dominated by red.
Stew duck with beer in spicy sauce or pijiu ya is a favorite in Hunan cuisine. The sauce comes molten, oily, and as red as a femme fatale’s skirt. Full of tender duck meat, the skin and bones are included in this stew for full flavor. This duck dish bombards the eater with Sichuan peppers, peppercorns, pepper seeds, and pepper paste; there's no escaping its wrath.
Chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and slabs of a peculiar black yam cake attempt to bring their flavors to this fiery food—but with no success. Although the black yam cake can be applauded for diversifying the stew's texture with its slick, slippery, and al dente mouth experience.
As much as I concentrated, I could not detect a lick of beer in this stew duck with beer in spicy sauce, probably because of the spicy sauce, which is why I highly recommend a nice cold beer to coax out that ingredient. Or, at the very least, put out the Hunan flame in your mouth.
Spicy City, 140 W Valley Blvd, Ste. 208, San Gabriel, (626) 280-0186