The Wonderful Cuisine of Taiwan: Mouth Watering Beef Noodle Soup, Handmade Dumplings, Succulent Ground Pork & Mushroom Rice and 31 Types of Chilled Appetizers! Cindy's Kitchen [Thoughts + Pics]

If there was one mom & pop restaurant that might’ve been most susceptible to the ravages of the pandemic shutdown of 2020, it might very well be Cindy’s Kitchen, a tiny hole-in-the-wall hidden amongst the endless horizon of tract homes as far as the eye can see.

This is a small Taiwanese specialist focusing on “Lu Wei / Hsiao Tsai” (Stewed / Little Dishes) (translated by my Taiwanese friend), along with a variety of other standout cooked dishes. You might glance at the refrigerated deli case and those familiar with “Lu Wei” type of dishes might not think much of it. Until you realize Cindy’s Kitchen offers 31(!) different types of Housemade Chilled Stewed / Little Dishes, and they are generally fantastic!

That achievement alone is something to be celebrated, especially since the vast majority of the Little Dishes are very well done, but then you sit down and order from the menu and realize it only gets better. And all of this is driven by Chef Ling and his wife, who had been cooking in Taiwan for awhile before moving to the States.

During 2020, we managed to make a couple of road trips out to Cindy’s Kitchen for Takeout, and to show support. In one of our visits, we asked the person behind the cash register how business was. They only shook their head in sadness. Thankfully they pulled through.

Spicy Tofu:

Here’s an example of the English translated menu item that belies how great this dish is: Any preconceived notions you might have about “Tofu” should be thrown out the window. I have no idea how Chef Ling does it, but this semi-firm (but still tender) Tofu is marinated in a fragrant Spicy Sauce that elevates this beyond anything I could have imagined. Excellent!

2 Item Appetizer (Wood Ear Mushroom Salad + Shredded Tofu Skin):

Their Marinated Wood Ear Mushroom Salad is piquant, silky, slippery, but also crunchy(!). It has the unique texture that is a standout characteristic of this fungus.

Their Shredded Tofu Skin is sneaky-good. One of the standout items in their pantheon of 31 Chilled Small Plates, it sounds boring, but don’t miss out on the lightly seasoned, tender, thinly shredded Tofu Skin. It’s actually quite savory and you get a hint of Sesame Oil as well. Lovely.

2 Item Appetizer (Cucumber Salad + Pork Ear with Green Onions):

Their Cucumber Salad is always bright, cool, crisp and fresh. A nice Garlic note accents each bite.

But their Marinated Pork Ear with Green Onions might be one of the best in the city: Porcine, gelatinous, but firm, a bit crunchy from the cartilage, and a balanced Soy Sauce-based saline note, along with their Homemade Chili Oil and bright Green Onions! :heart:

Deep Fried Chicken with Chili:

Firstly, yes, this was a risk, ordering a Szechuan dish at a Taiwanese restaurant, but during one of our earlier visits before the pandemic, we randomly decided to try it and surprisingly, this is an excellent version! :slight_smile: Crispy, fragrant, spicy, but not overly so, the Fried Chicken morsels are an excellent pairing with Rice.

Home-Style Stir Fried Pork Intestine:

Another surprisingly great dish, Chef Ling has good Wok Hei (Breath of the Wok) in this dish, with tender, lightly chewy, but luscious slivers of Marinated Pork Intestines stir-fried with Wood Ear Mushrooms, Green Onions, Bamboo Shoots in a tasty, balanced Soy Sauce-based Sauce. I enjoyed it and I’m not even an Offal fan.

Zha Jiang Mian - Soybean Dry Noodles:


A few years back, we had done a Zha Jiang Mian (Noodles with Soybean Paste) exploration, trying a bunch of places around the SGV. Cindy’s Kitchen turned out our hands down favorite version of this Noodle dish.

What stands out about Cindy’s Kitchen’s version starts in the preparation: Notice how thinly sliced all of the ingredients are (see above). It’s finely chopped, minced and ready for you to mix. Mixing it all together…

We marveled for a second on how glorious it all looked: The nice balance and sheen from the Cindy’s Soybean Sauce, the finely chopped Ground Pork, bits of Firm Tofu, the veggies. Taking a bite…

You have this bite of perfectly seasoned Ground Pork (finely chopped), with enough of the Firm Marinated Tofu (also finely chopped) with little bits of Bean Sprouts, Cucumber slivers, combined with just cooked through Thin Noodles.

It is WONDERFUL! :heart:

While they don’t make their Noodles by hand, what Cindy’s serves is sufficient. It doesn’t distract from the bowl, and serves as a good base. But it’s the finely chopped ingredients, the right balance of seasonings and Soybean Paste and the right size for each of the components (Pork, Tofu, Cucumbers, Bean Sprouts) that really made this the most satisfying bowl of Zha Jiang Mian we’ve ever had. Just deliciousness personified!

(Appetizer) Stewed Chili Pepper:

Chef Ling had just finished a limited batch of Stewed Chili Peppers, and he offered it to each of the tables to try: It’s cooked down to an almost meltingly tender consistency. Deeply fragrant and savory, and with a huge Chili kick! It’s not as hot as a Scotch Bonnet or Habanero, but it still had plenty of heat. But this was quite tasty.

Another Visit (12th or so?):

3 Item Appetizer (Cucumber Salad + Pork Ear with Green Onions + Seaweed with Bean Sprouts):

The Cucumber Salad and Marinated Pork Ears with Green Onion appetizers were still as fantastic as always, but the new item from the 31 different types of Hsiao Tsai (Small Dishes) was the Seaweed and Bean Sprouts:

Excellent Seaweed shreds, tender and lightly briny (in a good way), which contrasts the Marinated Bean Sprouts.

Ground Pork & Mushroom Over Rice:

First, notice the finely chopped Mushrooms and Pork. If you look even closer, you’ll notice there’s some finely chopped Pork Belly (or bits of fatty and lean Pork) as well.

Taking a bite…

This is the reason I love being in the City of Angels so much: The fact that while we can “Ooh!” and “Aah!” over gorgeously plated, expertly crafted, high end meals by Michelin-calibur Chefs, we can also sit down at a hole-in-the-wall and enjoy a bite of Taiwanese Ground Pork & Mushroom Over Rice that is so deeply satisfying, so full of long-stewed flavor, perfectly seasoned, bursting with umami and just flat out DELICIOUS that it blows away anything I had at various Michelin Starred restaurants before the pandemic.

Truly one of the Best Bites of the year (and it has been for the last 2 years). :heart:

Pork, Leek & Shrimp Dumplings:

Cindy’s Kitchen makes their Dumplings in-house and from the first bite, it is absolutely apparent. The Handmade Dumpling Skins are pliant, with a nice chew and a medium thickness. It’s rustic, reflecting the homely, humble quality that exudes everything on Cindy’s Kitchen’s menu.

And then the Marinated Pork, Leeks and Shrimp hit your palate (make sure you dab it in a bit of Vinegar). This is one of the standout Handmade Dumplings in the San Gabriel Valley currently, and if it wasn’t for Ly Family Kitchen, it would’ve remained our favorite around town. But with Ly Family Kitchen (just a few minutes down the street), Cindy’s Kitchen’s version is still fantastic, but just our 2nd favorite now. :wink: Still delicious.

13th Visit:

3 Item Appetizer (Cucumber Salad + Pork Ear with Green Onions + Shredded H/S Potatoes):

Another standout Little Dish from the 31 different versions is their Shredded H/S Potatoes. We could not stop eating this: Perfectly sour and salted, the long strands of just cooked through Potatoes are another must order. :slight_smile:

Mustard Green & Pork Noodle Soup:

Chef Ling makes his Mustard Greens in-house (at this point, I’m almost expecting it). And yet another fantastic dish arrives. Just like their Zha Jiang Mian, their Mustard Green and Pork Noodle Soup is this beautiful bowl of finely chopped goodness: Housemade Mustard Greens, super thin slices of Marinated Pork sits in a fragrant, delicate Broth that I can’t stop thinking about.

Their Thin Noodles work well and match every bite. This might be one of the best versions of Mustard Green & Pork Noodle Soup that I can remember trying in L.A. So good! :heart:

Wonton Soup:

Made with Marinated Ground Pork and Shepherd’s Purse (Ji Tsai), these Handmade Wontons are a delight: Toothsome, nice chew and a delicate balance with the slightly herbally Shepherd’s Purse and Ground Pork, with a Chicken Broth base that is almost therapeutic, this is one of the best Taiwanese Wonton Soups we’ve had in awhile. Still as outstanding as before the pandemic!

3 Item Appetizer (Gizzard with Green Onions + Pork Ear with Green Onions + Shredded Tofu Skin):

Their Gizzard with Green Onions is another rather uncommon Hsiao Tsai around the city, one that I haven’t seen offered at any other place before. The Chicken Gizzards are cooked down to be pliant, but has an insane crunchy factor(!), lightly spiced and fragrant from their Housemade Chili Oil, just another winner from their deli case. :slight_smile:

Beef Stew & Tendon Noodle Soup (+ Thick Noodles):

What makes Cindy’s Kitchen’s Beef & Tendon Noodle Soup such a standout, is a very rustic, “homemade” quality. It doesn’t taste mass-produced like so many versions of Beef Noodle Soup taste these days. There’s a pleasing, indelible quality to each sip of Cindy’s version, that tastes like it was cooked for hours (and it was).

It may not be as complex as Corner Beef Noodle House’s version, but it’s more welcoming and heart-warming. The hunks of Stewed Beef Shank are consistently tender, beefy and delicious. You can order it with Tendon as well (and you should), and the Stewed Tendon is consistently gelatinous, tender, and permeating with this delicious, long-stewed Beef Broth.

You can order it with Thick or Thin Noodles, but the Thick Noodles are the way to go (thanks @ipsedixit !). They pair with the Beef and Tendon and Soup perfectly.

Preserved Vegetables:


At various Beef Noodle specialists, you’ll find a jar of Preserved Vegetables to add to your Beef Noodle Soup. Chef Ling makes theirs from scratch, in-house. :open_mouth: Another nice touch.

Overall, all of those qualities and the perfect balance of flavor (not too salty, not too spicy, inviting, consistently stewed Beef Shank and Tendon) make Cindy’s Kitchen’s version our favorite Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup in L.A.! Outstanding! :heart: :blush: :heart:

Preserved Vegetable with Peas and Tofu Skin:

It should not surprise you to learn that Chef Ling makes his Preserved Mustard Greens, in-house! :open_mouth: So many local restaurants’ version of this dish taste like they use a store-bought version of Preserved Mustard Greens, and it’s understandable why (it saves a lot of time), but Cindy’s Kitchen’s version is standout because of the Homemade quality.

Add in the tender, standout texture from the Tofu Skin, along with Edamame’s earthy qualities and you have another great dish worth considering.

Spare Ribs with Mushroom:

This was another solid offering from their House Specialties: Stewed Pork Spare Ribs with Mushrooms. The Stewed Spare Ribs were excellent, tender, fall-off-the-bone, and the Cartilage was soft enough to chew and enjoy. The Mushrooms lent that unmistakable umami quality, but if there’s one minor quibble, it’s that the Brown Sauce was rather straightforward (mainly Soy Sauce and Pork Stock). It’s a homely dish, but the ingredients are otherwise great and a nice pairing with Steamed Rice.

Ground Pork & Mushroom Over Rice:

But we couldn’t leave this visit without ordering Chef Ling’s stellar Ground Pork & Mushroom Over Rice dish again. As consistently absurd as before:

Luscious, deeply satisfying, porcine, long-stewed, fragrant from the Mushrooms, and all of the ingredients are finely chopped (so it’s not really “Ground Pork”, more like “Finely Chopped Stewed Pork Belly”), the flavors are incredible once again! Definitely a standout item that makes our visit to Cindy’s worth the drive! :heart:

Cindy’s Kitchen has thankfully weathered the storm of 2020, and Chef Ling and his wife continue to deliver some of the best Taiwanese Beef & Tendon Noodle Soup, Zha Jiang Mian (Soybean Dry Noodles) and Ground Pork & Mushroom Over Rice in the city! Add in the ridiculous array of 31 different Lu Wei / Hsiao Tsai Appetizers (Stewed / Little Dishes), stunning Taiwanese Wonton Soup and a variety of other items, and you have a mom and pop shop that’s a real treasure, and one of the best comfort food restaurants in So Cal. (Thanks again @ipsedixit!)

Cindy’s Kitchen
16409 Colima Rd.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
Tel: (626) 961-0789


Are the 2 and 3 Item Appetizers a specific order on the menu or are you getting the usual deli container with multiple items? We usually want to try more deli items than we do but since the deli items are $6 it adds up a bit unless we can get more than one for that $6. Not that it’s a tragedy- if we have to take longer and buy whole servings of appetizers we’re prepared to do so.


Sorry, it’s not specific (which I figured since it’s not on the menu) but you also can’t mix and match? So these combined appetizers were purchased separately and then mixed together?

Sorry to belabor the point- I realize we could just ask but I’m always worried we’ll come off as unreasonable (even though they’re really nice at Cindys). We’re usually ordering for two so we’ll get two deli items and one or two mains which kind of gets in the way of trying new things since it’s already so much food and the things we regularly order are so good it would be a shame to pass anything up.

Hi @WireMonkey ,

You can mix and match any 2 items from the deli case (unless it’s one of the large packages already packed (e.g., they have a Half Smoked Chicken or Salted Duck already in its own container)). Those deli items are as is.

But the rest of the large selection is all good: Just choose what you want. :slight_smile:

Just tell them you want a 2 Item Combo (they will 3 Item Combo when they aren’t busy and if you ask nicely), and then point and pick what you want. :slight_smile:

Great way to save money and sample more!

Sorry you CAN damn auto correct

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Awesome, thanks to you both for the heads up!

Hell yes, everything we’ve tried is so amazing we may eat through the whole menu!

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