Almost two months since I first visited Village North, it remains a somewhat quirky enigma. I've visited and they've been closed....seems they are closed on Tuesdays. They don't have hours formally posted.....just scribbled on the portable grease board. And what's with the "Soft Opening" sign still up? I asked if they were still in their soft opening period and got an interesting answer; seems that their permanent sign hasn't arrived yet....so they are still air quotes, in "soft opening" mode.
Still, I really like the young folks who work here....they are friendly and very nice. And the décor is no shrinking violet; though the Chinese Rap music can be a bit much and there was the time one of the guys was on the small stage trying out VR gear.
Which turned out to be a nice meal. This time we ordered the Stir Fried Version of Suan Cai and Pork; simply called "Sour Cabbage" ($12.99) on the menu.
Man, this was good. The textures and seasoning; with garlic and star anise was just the way the Missus likes this dish. It was pleasantly slightly gooey and comforting. These guys really know how to stir fry. The Missus had a new second favorite.
I say second favorite because She really enjoyed the Pork Intestines in Dry Pot ($12.99).
I really hesitated in ordering any Sichuan here; but man, this was really good. Every ingredient had been nicely prepped and seasoned separately. The intestine had been expertly cleaned and even had that inner "fatty" layer. I've never had them ask me "how spicy" here; something I like and respect. This was nicely "ma-la". The Missus immediately said that this was a level above Sizzling Pot King in prep and execution. I've now had this a couple of times with other folks and they all agree; this version is quite good.
Lily and I decided to take "YZ" out for a celebratory lunch and they (as usual) let me pick. My choice....Village North. We had some of the usual suspects; but also ordered a couple of more traditional Dongbei style dishes. Starting with one of the classic dishes; Dongbei La Pi; mung bean sheets in sort of a salad, Multicolor Clear Noodle ($11.99) on the menu.
Again very nice prep; everything from the thinly sliced vegetables to the pork and egg was seasoned separately. The dressing; a sesame paste black vinegar concoction; with a touch of wasabi tasted like a lighter version of what I make at home; though without as much sesame paste. It's a nice combination of nutty-sour-sweet. Pretty good overall; this will go well during hotter weather.
We also tried something simply called "Stewed Assorted Delicacies" ($18.99 - 农家一锅鲜) on the menu.
Basically a dish of stewed/braised pork ribs; which is then stir fried with corn, potatoes, and green bell peppers. This wasn't very good; it was basically too salty; the pork ribs were on the tough side. The best items were the corn and potatoes.
Still we'd had some of the other dishes and both Lily and "YZ" really enjoyed things....especially the suan cai.
Hearing that this place had the Missus's approval; my "Food Gang" decided we should have dinner here. We ordered a bunch of stuff I'd had from previous meals; the suan cai, intestine dry pot, guo bao rou, di san Xian, and a couple of new ones. Our young server recommended something simply called "Flank Steak" ($15.99) on the menu. It arrived looking all the world like Chinese Black Pepper Beef.
The was another winner. The beef wasn't tender per se; it was toothsome without being tough, with a nice display of the stir fry skills, which in this case seems to be velveting.
We also ordered some chuan'r (skewers), which were fairly sub-par.
The lamb really needed much more cumin....the mantou....was topped with sugar...if this were Beijing; I think it would be brushed with a sweet bean sauce. I know this is what Xiāngjiāo was hoping for. Alas, it was not to be.
During one of my take-out visits; the really nice young man who works here named "Victor" told me his favorite item on the menu was the Fried Shrimp with Dried Red Pepper ($14.99). So when I recently dropped by for lunch; I ordered it.
This was pretty good; crunchy shells, the whole numbing-hot ("ma-la") thing going on. Nicely prepared....like I said...these guys do real well with a wok.
Though in terms of seasoning; the Zi Ran Yang Rou - Cumin Lamb ($14.99) left much to be desired in terms of cumin-spicy-salty tones.
So, in the end, we have a nice new option. I'm still not quite sure of everything on the menu.......but perhaps that's the fun of exploring. I think there are dishes on the menu to entice the beer-drinking, young crowd.....but then again, there's some serious cooking skills on display with some of the dishes.
4428 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111