So, the Food Pimp absolutely loves hot and spicy food. We play the what if game a lot. One thing he has trouble with is if he had some health problem and had to have a restricted diet. He's not sure if he would want to live without his buffalo wings, habanero sauce, la salsa chilena salsa,etc.
So, anyhoo, what we try to do on Mondays is eat at a new place. This doesn't always work out. A lot of places are closed on Monday because they are mom & pop joints, and moms and pops need a day off too. But the one place we did get to go to a couple of weeks ago was not closed. We were so hungry and anxious, we were the first ones there at 11 am.
So, it was Ba Ren. I have read about it from other respected bloggers, but for whatever reason we hadn't gone there. The FP was doing the research for this particular Monday. Of course, sezchuan or sichuan is an eyecatcher of a word to him. Neither of us know much about sezchuan food. We do know that those little chilis are hot, though. Of course, we were sure that neither of us has ever had authentic sichuan, so we were excited to have a new experience.
So we walked in, and we weren't sure that they were open. But they let us in, let us sit down. They were sitting at a booth eating. So the place was nice, homey feeling. It reminded me of someone's house with the decor. Like one of the Philippine friends we would have to go visit when I was a kid.
So the menu came. We were overwhelmed. It's really difficult to go to a new place for the first time, because it's hard to absorb everything. I try to scan the menu in an orderly fashion, but my eyes jump ahead of my mind. To me, going to a new restaurant is like going on a blind date. Not that I really know what that is like anymore. But, you know. You have a preconceived idea of what that person is going to be like. Sometimes they are better looking than you expect, sometimes they aren't. But when you really get talking and eating or drinking, their personality comes out. So it's either one way or another. You're either interested or you could walk out and never talk to them again. With Ba Ren, as soon as I opened the menu, it was like love at first sight. I mean really. This was it. Ba Ren. I don't know if I'll ever get to experience a better sichuan restaurant, but if I don't I'll never know what I'm missing because I could be quite happy with the new sichuan love of my life. Okay, well a crush at least, since I've only been there once.
Anyhoo. Let's just talk about what we got. I guess you could say we are very traditional people. When ordering at chinese restaurants, we tend to stick to a formula. One veg, one meat and one seafood. So usually we pick the veg first, since it's kinda the easiest decision. Stir fried sweet and sour cabbage.
So to the average person this may not seem exciting. We are not the average people. I'm not saying we are above average. I'm not sure where we fit in. In the fringe probably almost with the mentally disturbed, although not with them because we've never been officially diagnosed as such. Cabbage. Yeah, you know the score with that if you read this blog regularly. Cabbage 50 - the FP 0. He doesn't digest the greens. Almost any of them. Anyway, we are nonetheless crazy for cabbage. CrazZEEE. Crazier than Crazy Burger, which is not crazy at all. They should call it Average White Male Burger - no offense to any of you. On paper that's what the FP is.
So, Sweet and Sour Cabbage!!!!! No, it's not pickled cabbage. It was tasty, yet done with what I want to describe as an experienced, almost delicate hand. Meanwhile, the really is there's some crazy superenergetic little chinese man that runs the kitchen weilding his huge cleaver. This cabbage had the little peppers. They were pretty black. But most of them were edible and delicious. They weren't hot. Very toasty and delicious, though. The cabbage. It was sweet. It was sour. It was words I can't describe. Fra- gee-lay. Yet bold.
This was called razor clam on the menu. But this is what we call surf clam. Razor clam is the long fingernail like clams and the flesh kinda looks like worms. So I'm not sure if this is what they call razor clam or they used this instead of razor clam. Anyway, we were very excited to have it. So these were very tender. Fresh. So, yummy. They are not like other clams. Way more...less clammy. More...lobstery, maybe, shrimpy, deliciousy? Anyway, this was spectacular. The bean sprout under were pretty bland, but if you just mixed it with the clams and sauce and rice they added a nice texture.
Sichuan style steamed pork with rind? I'm not sure which menu item this was. Anyway, it was a big pile o tender, braised pork and topped with pork belly. This is called the Pork Porn Pages, yes? Just look at it. My heart rate is increasing. I'm not hungry, but if I had a big plate of this in front of me, I would eat it right now. So, how to explain it. I'm not going to...
I just posted the picture again instead. It was rich and fatty, yet the juices were, again, kind of delicate. It was nothing like I expected sichuan cuisine to be like, but in a good way. A great way. I need to go back. Soon. Immediately.
It's times like these that I think of our friend, who I will give a new name because he hates the old one. I'm not into changing names, I usually only change them if I can't remember the original name or think of a better one. So here's his name. CMG. Cuban musical genius. Anyway, we had some great food experiences with the guy. With my sis too. I miss them. I can't just call them and say, hey, you wanna go to this place, Ba Ren? If I ever win the lottery, I'm going to rent a jet and take my good foodie friends on a world food tour.
Ba Ren. I have only eaten there once, but I'm going to go ahead and prematurely give them a rating. \/\/\/\/\ The scale goes to 8, but I think they deserve a 9!
4957 Diane Ave