This week, Jonathan Gold heads to Arcadia to review Dongpo, the follow up to the massive Sichuan restaurant in Century City, Meizhou Dongpo. The Times critic describes the restaurant as "catering more to a general audience than your favorite Alhambra dive, less regional and a level or two less pungent, and less likely to hit you with the odd squishy bit."
Still, the restaurant that "could probably swallow all three local locations of Chengdu Taste and still have space for the banquet rooms at the back" is turning out some pretty outstanding dishes. J. Gold call special attention to the "delicious" pork hock stewed with chilie, "beautiful" mapo tofu, and "spurtingly juicy" Meizhou Dongpo sausage, but the real star is the la zi ji, or spicy fried chicken:
And there's that la zi ji: slightly glazed, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and beautifully crunchy; saturated with salt, oil and a numbing blast of Sichuan peppercorn. I like the bony, superhot, almost burned la zi ji at some other restaurants in town, and I've made it almost a mission to find the best — the ones at Lucky Noodle King, Chuan's, and Spicy City aren't bad. But the la zi ji at Dongpo is splendid, as compulsive as a treasure hunt, chopsticks darting through the mountain of chiles for stray nuggets of meat, an activity you will pursue like a Pavlovian, for long minutes after the last bit of chicken has definitely disappeared. [LAT]