Red House

Red House is our go-to Chinese restaurant whenever we miss China. It’s a little bit far from where we live, but it’s totally worth the drive. The chef is actually from China, so the food is super authentic.

It’s located in a little strip mall, so parking is limited. Sometimes we have to park by the curb. The interior design is not fancy or even well thought out – yellow walls, red booths, and paintings of European street scenery. It looks like they just put up whatever they find nice individually. However, when I eat there, I would totally forget that I am in Utah.

You can choose to have hotpot buffet or just individual dishes. I have never tried their hotpot buffet because the ingredients just sit in the room, which doesn’t seem very safe to me.

One of our favorite dishes is the Spicy Boiled Fish (水煮鱼) or Beef (水煮牛). It’s not actually “boiled”. It was just translated from its Chinese name. The meat sits in this red soup filled with chili peppers, absorbing all the flavor from the ingredients. The meat is also very tender and juicy. You can ask for no Sichuan peppers, which will make your tongue numb.

Another dish that we always order is the Cilantro Spareribs (飘香排骨). It’s pieces of bone-in spareribs. It’s deep fried first, then tossed with cilantro and onions. The meat has the perfect amount of cilantro flavor and is very juicy. The outside has just the right touch of the golden color. It still sizzles when you bite into it. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.

We would also order this braised pork dish with napa cabbage and thin glass noodles. It has a really nice flavor of sesame oil. The fatty pork belly just melts in your mouth. The cabbage is refreshing and the noodles are firm to the bite and super flavorful.

They also used to have some Chinese buns with egg, shrimp, and pork in it, but for some reason they don’t make them any more, which made me quite sad.

One cool thing about this place is that they don’t give you fortune cookies. Instead, you get this green guava-flavored hard candy. I say cool because fortune cookies aren’t really a Chinese thing. I’ve never heard of it until I moved to America.

Anyway, all their dishes are very authentic Chinese dishes, which might not suit everybody’s taste, but since I am a native Chinese, I could literally eat there every day. The prices are also very affordable. We are so glad that we found this spot. I would totally give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Jinya Ramen Bar

We decided to go to Jinya Ramen Bar for dinner tonight. What triggered my interest was its all-black exterior – except for the white Japanese kanji on the sign. I thought, “That looks cool!”

We went inside around 5 pm and it was already quite busy. It was smaller than I thought, but the interior design was also very cool and very modern. Black ceiling, red brick walls, wood table tops. The atmosphere was very lively. Can’t wait.

We sat down at the bar. We ordered 3 appetizers: Jinya bun, salmon avacado, and shrimp tempura. As for entrees, we both had Tongkatsu black, one with thin noodles and one with thick noodles.

The Jinya bun was the first dish that came. We each took a bite and was surprised that it tasted just like the Chinese barbecue pork that we used to have near our apartment in China. We decided that it was the best Chashu we’ve had in the Salt Lake area. Good start.

Then the shrimp tempura and the salmon came. The portion was smaller than we thought. The salmon was pretty good, although it was not the most flavorful salmon we’ve had. As for the shrimp tempura, we wouldn’t call it “tempura”. It was just regular fried shrimp coated in creamy spicy sauce. Hmm, not so good.

Next, the ramen bowls arrived! They looked delicious! I must say the service was very speedy. We hadn’t even finished our appetizers yet. We tried it. At first, it was not too bad. The flavor was awesome – not too salty, just perfect. It was just that the broth was really thick and starchy, as if the noodle water hadn’t been changed for a while. It just coated my mouth with a layer of grease. The toppings were yummy, but the egg was too soft. The yolk just flowed into the broth, which made it even thicker. I didn’t finish my bowl. I thought I would get sick if I took another bite.

All in all, we were a bit disappointed, mostly by the starchiness of the broth. The portions also seemed too small for the prices. However, it has a very nice atmosphere and very good service. I would give it 2 out of 5 stars.