Hoicin Chinese Restaurant
9555 Folsom Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95827
My family is engaged in a continuous search: for the Perfect Authentic Chinese Restaurant in Sacramento. We've fumbled our way into just about every Chinese restaurant, joint, and dive in the area - my father willing, my mother less so - and it's always a thrill when we turn up something new. Which led us to Hoicin, which we rediscovered one day as we tooled around on Folsom.
Our immediate impression was the restaurant had a much more salubrious atmosphere then most of the Chinese joints we frequent. In my experience, nice comfy restaurants and good Chinese food often don't mix (at least in the USA), but my suspicion ebbed away when we recieved menus. The menu was by far the most interesting I'd seen in a Sacto Chinese restaurant, with a lot of truly authentic and funky looking choices, and I was excited to try everything I possibly could.
My dad began with his usual starter, a bowl of hot and soup soup ($4.00.) This was a nice, soulful rendition, with a lot of that dense and strong vinegary flavor that makes hot and sour soup such a wonderful thing.
The spicy plum head-on prawns (10.95) arrived next, a slightly different rendition of the usual flash fried and crunchy prawns we inevitably order at Chinese joints. The sweet plum sauce and crunchy onions gave an extra dimension to the sweet meat of the shrimp, and I enjoyed polishing off my parents discarded shrimp heads. (They really are good.) A nice dish.
The dish I had been waiting for arrived next, the Sampan Style Crab (seasonal price) , which was lightly battered chopped up, then deep fried with chili, garlic, salt and XO sauce. This was tremendous but a bit of a disappointment for me - the dry fried variant on my beloved chili crab meant that eating it with your hands in the predatory fashion I prefer was a greasy experience. Still, I enjoyed picking out every last bit of flavorful meat from the carapace of our poor departed friend.
Next up was the Tai-Chin Spicy Chicken, (10.50) which was served in a clay pot with fried garlic, Chinese sausage, black mushroom, ginger, and scallion in spicy sauce. The chicken was simply chopped up into pieces - head and comb included - and it reminded me immediately of the spicy clay pot chicken preparation I enjoyed in the back-streets of Beijing - this is the real thing. The sauce had a good, dense garlic flavor, and I enjoyed sucking the meat off the many and interesting bones like I did during my trip.. (though in China, I would have been eating outside and spitting the bones out onto the floor like the natives do...well, maybe not.)
Finally, we ordered the spicy green bean (7.50), cooked with jalapeno, dried shrimps, ginger, and scallion. This was an excellent and crunchy rendition of the quick fried beans I've grown to love, and again reminded me of a dish I enjoyed often during my time in Beijing. Totally addictive.
Hoicin's excellent and authentic food and calm atmosphere make it an instant winner in my book. Although the food can tend a bit to the greasy side, that's 1. partially our fault form ordering what we did and 2. sort of the nature of this kind of food in the first place. I can't wait to return and over-order again - I want to try everything this amazing menu has to offer.