After hearing from friends and fellow bloggers about Ba Ren. We decided to take no chances and go with solid a recommendation from knowledgeable bloggers like Kirk the main man at mmm-yoso!!!. We arrived before the sunset and parked in the rear of the place. We walked to the front to get a picture of the building and after I took this very bad picture, Taylor trips on the curb and smashes a gash in his knee. Nice start. We stroll into the place Taylor with bloody knee and all. We were seated immediately and someone brought out and ice pack and bandages. After myself and half the staff operated on Taylor's knee it was time to peruse through the massive and one of the most interesting menus I have ever seen. It had everything from frog legs to duck, Lamb to eel casserole. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on the Szechuan style of Chinese cuisine. Not that we haven't been to any. It's just that like a lot of restaurants in town it just never interested me in San Diego because I have never had really good food at any of the other so called Sezcuan eateries around town.
After a few moments of debate and a Tsingtao we decided on what to order. Taylor, being the youngest of the foodopolis crew ordered from the American style side of the menu. That old chestnut, Orange chicken Szechuan style. Me, Lamb casserole and Garlic flavored spare ribs. Being Italian anything with garlic in it can't be all that bad.
I must say that we were the only Anglos in the joint. A great sign by the way. If you ever go to an Asian restaurant and there ain't no Asians in the place. Run don't walk to another eatery. You never want to buy a Ford from a Chevy dealer and you don't want your Carne Asada burrito made by some guy named Todd from Encino.
The Lamb Casserole was the first dish up. Wow. Surprised I was at how it resembled a bowl of Pho from a Vietnamese soup house. Only this bowl had many depths to it. Number one, heat. and number two, more heat. But this was one of those different kind of heats. This was a heat with layers of flavors. Not just a single dimensional Jalapeno heat. No, This heat was on a par with the heat that comes with that first passionate kiss you and your true love have. That is real heat. that leaves you flushed for more. AMAZING!, I have never had a culinary experience like that. an Epiphany of culinary delight.
At first it seems to be too hot to eat. then your mind and body literally warm over and you start to get into a calm state and the more you eat, the more the heat doesn't effect you and you get into a culinary transcendental state of awareness. With heat comes depth, character and flavor!
Next up. Orange Chicken. Hot and spicy as well. But with out that many layered depths of heat as the Lamb. This was done quite well. No sugar coated Pick up Stix orange flavored candy oozing over it. It had the most mild but yet intense orange flavor to it. Made with large chunks of the orange skin which by the high heat of the pan it was cooked in had fried up to a crisp and all of the essential oils had been extruded into the sauce. Excellent dish as well.
As you can tell more bad photos. Ugh! We are working on that, so bare with us. Anyone want a staff photographers job? No pay but lots of bene's. Anyway. The last to arrive was the Garlic Flavored Spare Ribs.
Interesting flavors again here. Crispy fried pieces of spare ribs covered in a light slightly sweet coating and then diced and sauteed pieces of garlic poured over it.and NO HEAT! What a knockout. We started out with hot stuff then ended up with a very sweet dish. I am still trying to figure out what they coated these ribs with. light and sweet. Another dish that totally caught me off guard.
What an incredible restaurant. Absolutely on the must go to list in San Diego. Prices are very reasonable for this slightly off the beaten path family restaurant. Remember though. HOT, HOT STUFF served here. But if you can feel your way through the burn. Your palete will congratulate you with depths of flavors you have never experienced before.
4957 Diane Ave
再见! (good bye in Chinese. hopefully)