Closest Taiwanse Breakfast to the Westside
A few questions:
I heard recently that Yung Ho on Valley and New has gone severely down hill in terms of the quality of their Taiwanese breakfast. True, or just a bad day?
If true, where else can one get a great Taiwanese breakfast? My go to place is currently Four Seas (Si Hai) in Hacienda Heights, but that's just too far.
Looking for fresh soy milk, both sweet and salty with all the fixin's; you tiao (deep fried crullers); dan bing (eggs and crepes); sao bing (fried bread with pork and pickles); etc.
What's the closest place to West LA? Is there something in Chinatown, or at least in SGV off the 10? (Or, miracle of miracles, is there actually a place in West LA?)
I don't know of any places in Chinatown off the top of my head...there are a few places that do baozi and baked buns and things, but I don't know of any that do youtiao (though I haven't explored the place for a couple of years).
Here are a few places off of the 10 Freeway in SGV that are all easily accessible; granted, it's a bit of a drive, but they'll give you all the youtiao, shaobing, danbing, doujiang, etc. that you could ever need.
Ding Pangzi: 115-117 N. Lincoln Ave., Monterey Park (626) 288-2211
Suitably grimy joint that has quite good danbing, bad shaobing and big, pillowy baozi. I quite like the Mushroom & Pork Bun (xianggu roubao) and the Preserved Mustard & Pork Bun (meigancai roubao). The Pork Bun (xianroubao) can also be good (if seemingly undercooked at times). I seem to recall quite liking their Chive Turnovers, but it’s been a few years since I had one there. They don’t make their own Soy Milk. This place is difficult to find. It’s in a strip mall off of Garfield near the Garvey intersection, across from the Hong Kong Supermarket and behind the Heavy Noodling restaurant. It’s actually two restaurants side-by-side; the breakfast joint I go to is the one on the left. Packed on the weekends. Very nice staff. Menu only in Chinese, but plenty of bilingual folks there on the weekend.
Yi-Mei: 736 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park (626) 284-9306
Cozy (okay, cramped), little shop in the Dingho strip mall. Almost always packed. Very good shaobing, danbing, and doujiang (made in-house...you can get hot or cold, savory or sweet...and they also have mijiang). My faves are the compact, hefty and juicy buns. The Preserved Snow Cabbage & Pork Bun (xuecai roubao) is terrifically pungent (admittedly, an acquired taste), and the Pork & Mushroom Bun (Taiwan roubao) has a great mixture of potent soy sauce, pork and mushroom flavors. The Pork & Cabbage Bun (cairoubao) is also quite good. The Vegetarian Bun (sucaibao) and Chive Bun (jiucaibao) are okay...nothing special. All of the buns are much better if freshly made, rather than nuked from the fridge. The Chive Turnover (jiucaihe) and Steam-Fried Pork Buns (shengjianbao) are pretty disappointing. Menu only in Chinese, but shouldn’t be a problem, IIRC the very nice lady at the counter has pretty good English. There is another Yi-Mei in the San Gabriel Superstore complex (608 E Valley Blvd. #G, San Gabriel), which is more spacious, but I haven’t been as impressed with their stuff. There’s also another in the Hong Kong Supermarket complex in Rowland Heights; been there only once, but the baozi was superb.
Yung Ho Tou Chiang: 533 W. Valley Blvd. (New Ave.), San Gabriel (626) 570-0860
Another grimy joint that’s nonetheless quite popular. Excellent soy milk and shaobing. The danbing is a little too eggy for my tastes (I prefer more of a balance between the dan and the bing), and the buns have always disappointed me...gristly meat and little discernable flavor. The pups hungrily demolished the huge hubeidoupi (glutinous rice and ground meat in a fried bean-flour wrap); I thought it was okay. They have an extensive menu with English translations, though. There’s another branch at 1045 E. Valley Blvd. #A105, but I’ve never been there.
Mei Lin Tou Chiang: 1275 E. Valley Blvd. (New Ave.), Alhambra (626) 284-1868
Decent, hole-in-the-wall joint that’s hidden away in the strip mall with Lee’s Sandwiches. Wide variety of baozi, jiaozi, and zongzi. Baozi are quite good, if unspectacular; flavors a bit more subdued than some of the other places. I quite like the pickled veggie-pork bun (suancai roubao) and chive bun (jiuciabao). Soy milk is also good (though once it tasted a bit “skunky”).
I haven't been there for about three years, so I can't say whether it's recently gone downhill. I remember quite liking their soy milk and shaobing, but I'm mainly a bao fan, and I never liked theirs, so I've always stuck to the other places.
The good thing is that you do have options...try 'em and see what you think. My personal favorites are below (one caveat - I'm not a youtiao fan so I don't take that into account):
1. Yi-Mei on Atlantic
2. Mei-lin Doujiang
3. Ding Pangzi
4. Yi-Mei on Valley
5. Youngho Doujiang on New
I haven't been to the Youngho Doujiang on Valley in Rosemead, but Jerome's posted favorably on it before.
You guys are lucky to have this kind of variety. Yongho Doujiang is way better than a lot of San Francisco Bay Area Chinese restaurants that serve this. Best of all you get freshly made soy milk and Taiwanese starch based snacks all day all week. It is still a far cry from the real deal in Yongho Taipei, but heck better than nothing.