(“No, it has a nice complexity to it,” says Duan.) Is the —a common breakfast noodle served with sesame paste in Wuhan—authentic?(“Not quite,” Chen, the Chihuo reader says, but it exceeds her expectations.) How about the preserved duck tongues? At the end of the meal Duan tells the pair to e-mail her what they think of the dishes; she’ll wind up quoting them in the review.The restaurant, a Grand Opening banner still flapping over the doorway, specializes in “dry pot”—a stir-fry consisting of a meat (including frog and rabbit), veggies and herbs (bean sprouts, cilantro), plus whatever else is available (one dry pot features Spam)—prepared in the signature spicy Sichuan flavor known as . In places like Chongqing and Sichuan, it’s a dish of convenience most moms can make. This time around she’s accompanied by two Chihuo readers who won a contest in which followers were asked to write a brief pitch on why Duan should dine with them.One of the winners, Millie Chen, a voluble mother of two kids, earned her place because she knows Wuhan food, which Qiwei Kitchen serves, too.in Chinese means “human mouths”; a good, secure job is known colloquially as a “metal rice bowl”; and there’s an expression from the Han dynasty—“An emperor’s priority is his people, and the people’s priority is to be fed”—that these days is used to convey, basically, how much Chinese people love to eat.Duan was passionate enough about restaurants back in China to read the newspaper every Monday for its weekly dining column. But never did she think her two hobbies would become a livelihood, which is what happened when Duan resigned from an international marketing company in Torrance last August to work on Chihuo full-time. “I am so lucky that I can make it my career.” She draws a small salary, working ten hours a day, sometimes as many as seven days a week. In September Chihuo started a Bay Area edition on Weibo, and by March expanded it to Seattle, New York, Washington, D.
Brands (owner of Pizza Hut and KFC) acquired in 2011.Hai Di Lao, a hot pot outfit that offers services like manicures for queuing customers in China (the wait is notorious), opened an Arcadia outpost in 2013.In October the Taiwan-based bakery 85C unveiled its 15th stateside location, in Old Pasadena.Those places have all closed.” It’s cutthroat, but that’s also what makes the San Gabriel Valley so compelling to her. Lately she has been clocking time eating Sichuan cuisine, the indisputable regional style of the moment.There’s been an explosion of restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley specializing in it after the success of Chengdu Taste, the spot on Valley Boulevard in Alhambra with a perpetual swarm of people lined up outside. On an early afternoon about 20 miles east of downtown, I meet her in Rowland Heights at a Sichuan restaurant called Qiwei Kitchen (a name that works less well when translated from Chinese: “curious taste”). When she’s asked to visit a restaurant, she discloses as much in the write-up and brings along other people for their take.