NY Style Egg Rolls... SO CLOSE... but not quite.
It was late. I was starving. I didn't have lunch... and Chinese sounded good. The problem was, I was in Montrose... not exactly a destination for good Chinese.
I've passed Sun Palace, on Verdugo Blvd., for years. It's always been kind of like the haunted house on the street where I went to grammar school... you just didn't go in there because you just KNEW it would be bad.
I was desperate. It was that or the Rice Garden near the movie theatres by the entrance to the 2 -- and that place is just unspeakable.
I went in and ordered egg rolls, Szechwan shredded pork and steamed rice.
The first clue was the fried noodles, a big ol' basket, with duck sauce -- NOT the red gloppy ketchup-oriented "sweet and sour" sauce, but a dish of honest-to-God DUCK SAUCE, with a dab of mustard in one side.
Then the egg rolls came. I was so disappointed to see them -- the same ol' "flat" rolls, with no texture on the outside -- New York egg rolls have the blistered skin with the soft chewy egg part inside.
These had no blistering -- but they had the egg part! And they had the required cheap cabbage filling that has almost no discernible meat but still tastes like pork. Combined with the duck sauce and mustard and I could almost -- ALMOST -- believe it was a worthy substitute. I ate all 4 of them.
As I've said, I like most egg rolls, even the kind here in California. I'm really not picky, but I *am* looking for the New York egg roll of my youth. If I find it, I'll be happy, and if I don't, I'll be OK with that... it gives me an excuse to try Chinese restaurants.
This was the closest I've gotten in LA. I'll continue my quest.
The "Szechwan" shredded pork, by the way, was the blandest thing I think I've ever had in a Chinese place, blander even than wonton soup. I asked for -- and received -- chili oil, which made it a little bit better. I took most of it home, and then the smell invaded the car.
I swear to God it smelled like bologna in my car. I was horrified. It smelled so bad I pulled over and left it on the side of the 2. I couldn't even make it to an exit to put it in a trash bin.
I can't recommend Sun Palace -- it's totally the archetypal God-awful Chinese-food-for-gwailo place that makes me so glad we have alternatives in the SGV, where they don't serve chop suey and egg fu yung -- but stop in and get an order of egg rolls at the bar. See if I'm just deluding myself. Just eat dinner elsewhere -- Arcadia is just 15 minutes down the 210.
The closest thing I've found to those "N.Y."-style egg rolls recently has been at the L.A. County Fair, at the so-called "Thai" concession. Blistered skin & all. But you'll have to wait another 10 months or so.
Back in the 70s and early 80s, virtually every egg roll I encountered was the thicker skinned variety; all those places seem to have disappeared, I guess.
You know it's really quite strange. I've seen quite a few chow threads over the last few years bemoaning the lack of NYC style egg rolls in L.A., and still nobody has managed to find them here. The odd part is that they are available at most L.A. supermarkets near the deli counter. Now don't take this as a recommendation, because they are almost all universally horrible, but they do get the NYC egg roll skin component correct. Blistered, slightly soft outer skin, with a doughy second inner layer. This is why it's all the more frustrating that I get bizarre looks whenever I ask about these at any L.A. Chinese restaurant. Maybe I should grab one of these samples from the supermarket and whip it out as a visual aid next time I go to China Town.
I don't know what NY eggrolls are, but there was a place in SF Chinatown that sold magnificent eggrolls of fond memory. They were about the size and shape of a medium potato, had a crunchy deep-fried batter on the outside, and (I think) caul fat wrapping up the contents. They were full of meat, mushrooms and other good stuff and had a wonderful flavor. One of these and a steamed pork bun went back to my desk with me for lunch.
I haven't seen anything like these in years.