Sue's Kitchen in Torrance - Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
A recent poster had asked about Taiwanese in the South Bay and I mentioned Sue's. To back up my rec, I made a visit today for a late lunch.
They have really spiffied up the place compared to its previous incarnation. Lacquered wood two-tops, new chairs and new tableware help improve the feel. The windows are no longer tinted. The cold plate deli dishes are still there. Best of all, they now have A/C. Overall, a much brighter place. (Some might be nostalgic for the old look, which could have been more appropriately named "Soup Kitchen".)
I was told that the old Torrance A&J owners had some involvement with this place - it turns out that the previous owner of A&J has taken over this place; the name has been retained due to long term recognition, but the menu has largely been carried over. This will certainly bring a level of comfort for those who enjoyed A&J. Those who didn't, well, good luck finding Taiwanese food in the South Bay! :)
Onto the food. We ordered the beef noodle soup, fried pork chop rice plate and pan fried potstickers. The beef noodle soup was just as I remembered it from A&J - noodles al dente, superb spicy broth, 50-50 combination of meat and cartilage, and all of this topped with spinach - no surprise there. The fried pork chop was nicely marinated and was fried without the batter that's often used elsewhere. Unlike the previous Sue's, this plate came with pickled vegetables and an egg. The potstickers had a doughy texture and a filling consisting of beef and leek. OK, not great.
Next time, I'll have to try the fried fish fillet rice plate, my other favorite dish from A&J's, as well as the beef pancakes.
Granted, there is very little competition, if any, but I will say overall that Sue's has the best Taiwanese style beef noodle soup in the South Bay. A notch below the best in SGV and a few more below those in Taiwan (I know, I've been there), but I think it's good enough judged on its own that I won't make a trip out there just for this dish.
Side note: "Warning", this place currently has an "A" rating from the L.A. Health Department. So one could be tempted to dismiss the food quality on that basis, but those willing to put the grade aside should be well rewarded.
23918 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
Is this place owned by mainland Chinese people? When I went there, the servers there spoke with a mainland dialect. Just thought it was interesting.
I went there today (3/23/07) for lunch with a few of my co-workers. Some tips to keep in mind:
(1) Their Item # 1 (Beef Noodle Soup [niu rou mian] ) is what they're famous for. It's slightly burns in the back of your throat when you drink the first spoonful, but it's really, really good...and really addicting. 3 of us ordered this dish; 1 of us ordered the # 2 (Beef Noodle Soup with glass noodles); 1 of us ordered # 1 with flat, thick noodles; and 1 of us ordered # 1 with thin/"normal" noodles. We all agreed that the soup was really quite good. I would recommend not getting the glass noddles, because it's really nice to be have the flour-based noodles soak up some of the flavors from the soup.
(2) Their side dishes aren't spectacular; they're just okay. I ordered the green onion pancakes [cong you bing]. They were fresh and quite hot, but rather small and somewhat tasteless (needed a bit more saltiness).
(3) They also have a side bar, where you can order a side dish, like in most Taiwanese eateries. I think if you order 1 plate with only 1 item, it's $1.50, and if you order 1 plate with 3 items, it's $3.50. (I *think*...because I didn't order a side dish.) They offer a few different things, from mao er, to marinated thin slices of beef (the kind that you get in beef rolls [niu rou juan] to the long tofu strands that are cut like noodles (forgot what they're called)
(4) The place is really, really quite tiny. So our group of 5 had to wait a good 10 - 15 minutes before a table opened up.
(5) Most Importantly: They don't speak a word of English. Everybody that goes either needs to: (a) speak Mandarin, (b) bring someone who speaks Mandarin, or (c) eat food knowing that only pointing at things are as far as communication goes. Just an idea of what I mean: When you say the words, "Diet Coke," all they recognize is the word "Coke," and are going to bring you the red-colored can until you physically point to the silver-colored cans. Fortunately, I speak Mandarin, but I had to help out a table of non-Mandarin speakers figure out what to order.
All in all, if you're up for good food and up for a little fun with the language issue, it's really an awesome place to eat for beef noodle soup. One of my other (pregnant) co-workers asked us to bring back an order of pork-chopped steamed rice. When she dug into it, all I could hear was her munching and then, "Ohmygooooddddd....this is ssssooooo goooood...." and then more munching... So, apparently, their other dishes must be pretty good, too.