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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

91776, San Gabriel

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Mapo Tofu at Chung King restaurant

Hot mapo tofu at Chung King restaurant

Dear ——–,

You know it’s good Sichuan food when you feel heat pricking your cheekbones and your tongue going numb. I met my friend Ja-Shin at the restaurant Chung King in San Gabriel last night, deep in the Chinese heart of L.A. (I loved passing Rosemead Gardens on the way over there. That’s where you can get your enormous Lake Tai-style stones or Guanyin buddhas in geodes.) The place was packed, even on a Wednesday night. I had to try the mapo tofu because it’s a litmus test for the rest of the food, the way pad thai is for Thai food. (One etymology says “mapo” refers to a pock-mocked old lady who invented the dish.) It didn’t disappoint; the pain was good. We also gobbled down the whole braised fish in a spicy broth with fava beans and stir-fried green beans. Like mapo tofu, the green beans showed up on the “vegetarian” part of the menu, but they both had minced pork on top. Can’t stop the Chinese from adding pig!

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Author: postmarkhere

I'm a journalist based in Los Angeles who has always said that writing postcards for a living would be a dream job. The posts -- short enough to fit on an actual postcard -- chronicle recent travels near and far. I could blab on about being inspired by epistolary novels, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" pieces, but I'll just say that I'm aiming to give you a sense of flavor of a place without boring you to death. Wish you were here!

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