New Szechuan in Costa Mesa: Tasty Zone

Anyone been?

Noticed it the other day as I was going to Bella Cuba.

Looks pretty legit considering all the negative Yelp reviews revolve around how spicy it was. I particularly like the one who proudly proclaimed she could usually handle “Japanese spicy”.

I legit lol’d at “Japanese spicy”, come to think of it I can’t really think of any spicy Japanese food.

My Szechuan friends and their visiting parents swear by that place. They like it more than Szechuan Impression. Traditionalist I suppose.

Place was overflow on early Friday evening. A lot of al fresco dinning.

Oh, it was good. But I am not well verse in this cuisine.

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FWIW the japanese do have at least one spicy ingredient, a citrus chili paste known as yuzu kosho and they tend to use it as a complement to foods with a slippery/rich/fatty mouth feel. for example they might use yuzu kosho with udon and i’ve had it with seared salmon belly at a few sushi places. (it suddenly occurs to me to try it with avocado on toast.) i know there’s a yuzu kosho made with red chili that’s a lot hotter than the green version, but i’ve never had anything seasoned with it nor do i recall seeing it available at any of the japanese supermarkets i patronize.

i’m not a big fan of szechuan, but a quick overview of the menu suggests that the place is going for legit szechuan (they’ve even got a few pickled dishes on the menu) vs. szechuan-american even though they’ve included things like orange beef, broccoli beef and general tso’s chicken in their lunch specials - probably astute to cater to the people tagging along for lunch who can’t handle spicy.

Took one for the team.

Got ground pork noodles and spareribs simmered with potatoes.

Flavors were very good on both. Closer to Chengdu Taste in terms of menu and flavor than Chong Qing Mei Wei.

The noodles are the noodles you get in bun bo hue though and not your typical Chinese noodle soup noodles so they come much softer. I would have preferred the chewy version but that’s a me issue.

Spareribs were really flavorful.

Lots of Asian patrons >80% who were ordering some really tasty looking dishes.

I would come back for my Szechuan needs in OC.


I’ve been going for a while. They have really good toothpick lamb and rabbit. It’s very solid overall. I might like CQMW a little better but I can walk to Tasty Zone so I end up there much more

they used to have a really solid hainan chicken rice but they stopped serving it. bummer

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There’s also onikasu (demon/ogre scum/dregs), a Japanese chili “powder” that seem more like flakes, at least as served at Tsujita Annex. It’s spicy stuff!

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Service can be a bit disorganized but most of the Szechuan dishes I have tried there have been good. I like the lamb dishes and the pickled chile dishes best so far and usually get an order of the spicy wontons or the scallion pancake to accompany my meal. The only truly disappointing item I have had there was one of the shrimp dishes but it was a non-spicy one as a sop to a colleague who isn’t much for heat. The hot and sour soup isn’t bad but I have had better (J. Zhou does a pretty good version).

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I thought of that also but is that part of traditional Japanese cuisine or did that develop recently with the ramen boom? I know there are a few shops in Japan doing spicy ramen but aside from those spicy ramen “challenges” I can’t think of another dish that those flakes are used in.


is it a condiment (personal choice as to how much) or a set amount that comes with the bowl? i was thinking it might be a good addition for the really fatty tonkotsu broth.

fatty? aw come on…it’s just big-boned.


Condiment. Comes in a container next to the raw, minced garlic. A little goes a long way.