San Gabriel Valley Chinese food crawl

On my summer 2015 LA trip, I only got to one Chinese place, Shen Yang. I recently returned to focus on Chinese dishes in San Gabriel Valley.

Kang Kang food court (Alhambra): I resisted the temptation to order any of the delicious looking items from the steam tables and stuck to my goal – Sheng jian bao. Several Shanghainese restaurants in the Bay Area serve these pan-fried buns, but there is only one place that serves the style containing soup inside. Kang Kang’s was delicious and was worth a detour. The SJB were fried pleat side down, and the bottom formed an evenly browned crisp, but pliable crust. There’s about 1/4-1/3 as much soup as Yang’s in Shanghai, but it’s tasty and well proportioned.

JTYH (Rosemead) : the sign indicated the restaurant specialized in Shanxi style food, so we stuck to the wheat noodles the region is famous for. The toppings were top notch, but they need to pay more attention to noodle cooking time. The cat ear noodles, orecchiette-like discs folded in half like clam shells, were undercooked with raw bits in the center. The mu-shu topping was awesome though-- an egg and wood ear omelette with just the right amount of salt.

The bean sauce noodles, Zha jiang mian, had as good a sauce as I’ve had, with a generous portion of pressed tofu cubes. Unfortunately, the knife-shaved noodles were overcooked and under drained (a slow shaving technique would leave some overcooked, some undercooked, but these were all overcooked).

101 noodle express (Alhambra) : They’re known for their “shandong beef rolls” for good reason. Most of versions of rolled beef pancakes that I’ve tried use a heavy dose of hoisin sauce, which I’m not gonna lie, I like, but overpowers the flavor of the other ingredients. Here, they used minimal hoisin sauce and the ingredients stood on their own— the meat flavor comes across in each bite. The meat, is it shin or brisket?, tastes like the slices that adorn a beef noodle soup. The tight rolling makes for an excellent crunch thanks to a generous portion of cilantro and the crisp but pliable pancake.

Omar (San Gabriel) : I needed a break after all the wheat treats, so just got homemade yogurt at Omar’s, a Uyghur restaurant. Thick but drinkable with a straw, it’s great stuff with not too much tang.

Little Sister (Huntington Beach… not SGV, but I didn’t want to create a new thread) : the Bay Area needs a place like this. Master stock jasmine rice was the bomb— full on, intense chicken flavor. I don’t appreciate Hainan chicken rice, or maybe I’ve not had a good version, so this $2 dish impressed the hell out of me. Ma la beef tartare with pear pine nuts, bone marrow, quail egg and cassava chips was spicy and nicely seasoned. The naming is odd though–I didn’t taste/feel the presence of ‘ma la’ (numbing spice), and when I asked for some extra Sichuan peppercorns (they use crushed, not sifted), I felt my addition disturbed the balance of flavors the chef had created. Mala or not, great stuff.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold