I had been craving Yang Rou Pao Mo for a couple of weeks. I really loved that muttony - thick soup with leaven bread during our visit to Xi'an. Over time, I've accepted the fact that while versions might come close, it seems we just can't get the bread part right. During the recent cooler weather, I finally had a real lunch hour. I wrangled Calvin, who has, over time really developed a taste for the yang rou pao mo. I decided to revisit Shan Xi Magic Kitchen, which I thought was pretty good during my initial visits. Though I believed the place had slipped a bit during the last time I'd had a meal there....but that had been nearly two years ago.
So we arrived at around 1145 and place was almost half full. We got to the door....and were totally ignored, until I got the attention of the young lady working.
The service was quite perfunctory......just like I went back in time and landed in the SGV when we lived there in the late 90's.
I ordered three dishes....pretty much the items I'd enjoyed on my previous visits.
Starting with the Yang Rou Pao Mo.
Good lord this was so bad. The broth was very thin and had too much white pepper in it. There was almost no mutton-ny flavor. Two small slices of lamb, hardly any "bread", which, even though it can't touch the stuff in Xi'an is an integral part of this dish. A few strings of bean thread. Well, at least it was hot.....dishwater.
I also asked for the typical pickled garlic-chili paste and the young man looked at me like I had grown a second head. After a rather uncomfortable pause he told me; "we don't have that here." So much for that. One thing about having had a food blog for a bajillion years....I can always go back and find a photo of the dish I had during a previous visit. Here's that from back in 2016.
I saw the Pidan (century egg) and Tofu back no the menu so I ordered it. I didn't know it was tofu mush..... It looked so sloppy.
So this is what happens when you just carelessly stir tofu up......it's all broken up. I think they did this to hide how little pidan (maybe less than half an egg minced up?) was actually in the dish. Also, too much sesame oil....too little chili-peppercorn oil.
This is what I was expecting.
On my previous visits, I'd thought the Garlic Eggplant here, while on the oily side was quite tasty. And Calvin always needs a vegetable dish.....
This was the best dish of the day; though it didn't have enough garlic flavor and some pieces of eggplant weren't cooked fully through. It needed to be cooked a bit better.
And guess what? It was indeed much more gooey in our previous visits.
Like I said; the service was quite perfunctory. They just wanted us the heck out of there as soon as possible. I had thought this place displayed promise when they first opened; I'm not sure what happened here. Also, I noticed a few more Sichuan type dishes on the menu. I'm wondering if kitchen staff has changed? Whatever the reason......this was a disappointing meal. It also has me wondering how the 99 Ranch Market location on Convoy is doing? I guess I need to check them out.
Shan Xi Magic Kitchen
4344 Convoy St,
San Diego, CA 92111