This article mentions that they are available at Spicy City in San Gabriel, and I found them on the menu at JX Cuisine in Santa Clara, thanks to Yelp.
Yes, the mung bean version is fairly common in the LA area. Like many Chinese dishes throughout the history of Chinese food in the US, the exact name, however, may vary widely. Never heard the term “sad jelly” down here–typically it is referenced merely as mung bean jelly in the Sichuan style restaurants.
Short answer—- I don’t know whether we’re talking a dish name issue, as @chandavkl alluded, or a ingredient/stylistic issue.
I’ve had Sichuan liangfen, thick mung bean starch noodles with a spicy sauce, at a few restaurants, and made Carolyn Philips recipe at home, but don’t know how that differs specifically from the “sad” version. The Chinese characters for Chengdu Taste in SGV indicate sad (@chandavkl , other than probably being excellent, do you know if their version differs in a fundamental way from other versions?).
Here’s what I wrote in my early-2017 abandoned attempt to track dish names, for which I salvaged at least Sichuan noodles at 61 restaurants.
“I’ve separately listed two types of liangfen, mung bean jelly, but I think they refer to the same dish. Are Northern Sichuan mung bean jelly 川北涼粉 and Heartbreaking mung bean jelly 傷心涼粉 the same? I planned to combine them, but Berkeley’s Chengdu Style lists both dishes. I dug up some lore about where the latter gets its name-- there’s even a trademark dispute. Carolyn Phillips has a recipe for a Guizhou version of mung bean jelly, and gives some comments about how to make a Sichuan version.“
Your best bet might be to head to Berkeley’s Chengdu Style, try their sad bean jello, and use the opportunity to chat with students I’d also check menus on the newer places I listed on the regional list as having Chongqing chefs, which tend to have some newer Chengdu dishes than standard canon.
Here are places that list the dish under the Chinese name “sad” 傷心 as of 19 months ago. On a case by case basis, I have no idea how those differ from another 40+ places which call it Sichuan or spicy liangfen or something.
Chef zhao Spicy hot jelly noodle; 傷心涼粉
Chengdu style Sad Bean Jelly (very spicy); 傷心涼粉
JX cuisine GreenBean Jelly Noodle in Chili Sauce; 傷心涼粉
Spicy way Rice Jelly in Hot and Spicy Sauce; 傷心涼粉
Maybe just a naming issue. I’ve had spicy “bean jelly” (and wheat starch) cold noodles, though not by that quaint name (and generally not as fearsomely hot as described).
I wonder what Spicy Way means by “rice jelly.”
There’s history of musicians needing to use Jelly instead of Jello to prevent copyright infringement
If it’s a naming issue, is anyone on here from Sichuan province, or can they ask next time they’re at a Sichuan restaurant? Fuchsia Dunlop or one of her Twitter followers might know the answer (I can’t think of a writer native to Sichuan off the top of my head). I do find it interesting that the “sad” usage locally seems to correspond with chefs who have more contemporary dishes, its non-use a shibboleth of sorts maybe?
This map seems to represent some sort of distribution of the dish name in China, though I have no idea what data base is used (perhaps Baidu Map’s own user reviews?). There are references to this dish name in 102 restaurants in Shanghai alone in restaurants reviewed on dianping.com, compare to 5 on this map.
Another question is if all the mung bean jelly dishes are in noodle form. Mung bean jelly is sold in the stores in rectangular blocks. Myself I cut them into cubes and stir fry them.
@hyperbowler and i had a 川北涼粉 at Chef Z a couple of months back at a banquet. I don’t recall the dish being weeping spicy, however.
According to the entries at Baidu Wiki, 傷心涼粉 Heartbreaking mung bean jelly is a Hakka dish created by Hakka people migrated to Sichuan from Guangdong, famous around Ziyang in Anyue County, originated around the early 1900’s in the late Qing dynasty.
Sichuan mung bean jelly 四川凉粉 is a separate recipe, with no Hakka connection mentioned, said to have been around more than a century. 川北涼粉 Sichuan North mung bean jelly is quoted as an example mentioned of Sichuan mung bean jelly being famous around Nanchong in NE Sichuan. There are some differences in the ingredients versus those in the weeping mung bean dish.
If you look at the map, Anyue and Nanchong is about 100 miles apart. Note their locations relative to Chengdu and Chongqing:
So, my guess is, they are regional variations created by different populations.
I noticed the word Hakka too, with some wonderment, since I have never associated Hakka people with extreme spice, but they may have introduced the jelly medium.
In the blues tradition, “jelly” or “jelly roll” was a reverence to a certain part of a woman’s anatomy. In Shanghainese slang, “tofu” is used in a somewhat similar manner.