Plans for eating all-you-can eat Korean BBQ tonight fell through, so instead I got to eat Chinese in Chinatown. The restaurant of the night was Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine. It is one of several Phoenix restaurants spread across the Southern California landscape. I've eaten at Phoenix Inn twice before, so I know the food is good. This time we ordered four dishes I've never tried before.
The first thing I saw on the menu that I wanted to try was deep-fried pork intestine. I've made my own chitlins before, so I kind of knew what to expect. The deep-fried pork intestine came pretty much like the name said, without much additional seasoning and a side of pickled vegetables. If you've ever eaten intestine, then you know that the walls of the intestine vary in terms of thickness and consistency. The thicker pieces were a bit chewy, which was to be expected. The thinner pieces, though, were wonderfully crunchy. And in between were pieces that were both crunchy and fatty at the same time, although I don't believe that part is actually fat. They were good, but I wouldn't necessarily add it to my regular menu.
We also got deep-fried shrimp rolls. (Two deep-fried dishes already?) These were pretty straight forward as well, with eight rolls filled with meaty shrimp. They were just out of the fryer when they got to the table, which is always a plus when dealing with deep-fried foods. The crunch factor of the skin was very high without feeling overly greasy, and the shrimpiness was excellent.
The third dish was sliced beef with Satay sauce. This was probably the weakest course of the night. Although the name of the dish mentions Satay sauce, it is nothing like the beef Satay you might get at a Thai restaurant. The beef came sliced like so many Chinese beef dishes, and was more or less steeped in a slightly sweet sauce. There were absolutely no frills, or thrills, with this plate. It was sizable portion of beef, but seemed to be deficient elsewhere.
The final dish was seafood chow mein, which only differs from the house special chow mein in that there is no beef or pork in it, and only the seafood and vegetable bits. We got it crispy, so that there was a little crunch (Are you noticing a theme?) to the parts that hadn't absorbed the gravy fully. It was loaded with morsels of rock cod, squid, shrimp, scallop, and Chinese broccoli. Nothing really set this chow mein apart from others, but it was satisfying and hit all the right notes.
Overall the meal was quite decent, although nothing to get overly excited about. The four dishes came out to around $40 so it's not cheap. Nowadays I don't associate Chinatown with good Chinese food, especially when Monterey Park is another hop away and offers superior authentic Chinese food at cheap to reasonable prices. But Phoenix Inn in Chinatown does a good enough job that as long as Monterey Park remains 6 miles further than Chinatown and I don't want to go that far, I guess I'll be eating here.
Some other notes on Phoenix Inn:
This has never happened to me before at a Chinese restaurant, but they gave me a side of ketchup and mustard. Not Chinese spicy mustard, but like French's yellow mustard. I don't know what it was for, and why they thought I would need it (I didn't). Maybe it was like the time I went to eat Chinese with my Chinese friend and Hispanic friend. Both my Chinese friend and I got chopsticks, but the waiter took one look at our other friend and handed him a fork, marking perhaps the first time in history a Hispanic dude had to ask the waiter for a set of chopsticks at a Chinese restaurant.
Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine
301 Ord St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phoenix Inn Chinese Cuisine