Sichuan Fortune House
Sichuan (or Szechuan) cuisine is known for its liberal use of hot chili peppers and pungent spices. In the past, when I have ordered Sichuan-style dishes in Chinese restaurants, there has been little spice or unique flavor. I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem in Pleasant Hill that is probably as authentic Sichuan as you will find in the Bay Area. Not to pretend that I am an expert on authentic Chinese cuisine, but this restaurant had lots of unique offerings that were a refreshing change from the usual staples.
When we first arrived, they brought out a plate of salty peanuts and spicy cabbage as a starter. After careful consideration, we ordered the Chai Chai Noodles and the Small Seafood Claypot. Neither of the dishes were supposed to be spicy, but being in a Sichuan restaurant, I felt obligated to order something drowned in chili peppers, so I asked for the seafood claypot to be spicy.
The first dish to come out was the Chai Chai noodles. The waitress tossed the noodles with the sauce at the table in front of us, which I guess was nice. The noodles were thick and chewy, in a good way. The sauce, however, was not as flavorful as I had expected. The noodles were coated in a thick dark sauce and had an almost unnoticeable amount of ground meat mixed in. Overall, the dish was satisfying but a bit bland.
After the noodle dish came out, I expected the seafood claypot to follow shortly. I started to think maybe they forgot about the claypot. I’m not sure exactly how long it was, but it was a really long time. When the seafood claypot finally arrived, I was shocked at how big it was. Apparently the small claypot is still huge. The claypot contained shrimp, calamari, mussels, fish, and tofu. I was glad I had asked for the claypot to be spicy, because it was absolutely delicious. I have a pretty high threshold for spiciness, but I thought the spice level was perfect. This was my first time trying a claypot, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Overall, I thought the service left something to be desired, but the food was pretty good. The Chai Chai noodles were just average, but the Seafood Claypot was excellent.
The bill for two people for lunch before tip was $26.
Sichuan Fortune House
41 Woodsworth Ln
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523