Triumphal Palace not so triumphant (ordered whole pig, too)
We've been dreaming of pig since S. Irene waxed poetic about it in her three-star review years ago. We should have gone right then and there, before all the menu and chef changes. But I digress ...
Made a reservation last Monday for Sunday night. Ordered the whole suckling pig, which they charge $50 to your credit card two days out.
Arrived 15 minutes early, and were told we would get our two tables right on time; the party had their check and were preparing to leave. It took forever. We were seated over 30 minutes late. I had to seek out the updates. They were pretty unconcerned about our wait.
We were told while we were waiting that the pig is traditionally presented first, and in sections, with somewhat of a dramatic presentation, like first the body, then the skin and fat, etc. That didn't happen. What we got was one pretty small plate per table with half a pig's head and everything there. We asked where the rest of it was, no organs, etc? Nope. The pig itself wasn't bad, nice crispyness to the skin, but it wasn't wowing. It was also only luke warm. It definitely wasn't worth the $188 price tag.
We ordered some other stuff too (green beans were good, chinese brocoli was also room temp and nothing special, spinach noodles were good, mushrooms good, scallops not bad). They were out of oysters and clams.
Service was generally absent. Plates ended up stack 4 high on our lazy susan while we waited for them to be taken away. It was hard to flag anyone down to do that or to order more food.
When I mentioned to the manager about the pig, the wait, the service, she said she would look into a discount. The bill came, no discount. She said there was nothing she could do. She would give us 10 percent off next time for dim sum.
I'm not really inspired to return. Too many other good places. I had a great dinner here once and several good dim sums in the past. This one started out great and went seriously downhill.
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We went to TP last night, and were not impressed. At 6:30, they were out of all the duck, and most chicken dishes. We had a roast chicken which was good - the skin emulates duck skin with the glazed look and flavor of 5-spice. Eggplant hot pot was the best dish.
We saw a steamed fish go by and asked about it. The waitress said it was $6/pound. There were four of us, so we ordered a small fish - about 2 pounds. When the bill came, the fish was listed for $25. My husband inquired, and was told the price was $16/pound- the waitress giggled and said we had probably misunderstood her accent, although we all clearly had heard $6. There was no apology and no adjustment. It was tasty, but not great, and definitely not worth what we paid for it.
There are just too many good restaurants in Alhambra/Monterey Park to bother returning to this one.
I was there with Judybird last night. Here's my take:
Compared to the local Chinese spots, TP was terrific; compared to dozens of other Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park, TP is just so so.
TP is also expensive. It cost $100 for the four of us which included five beers.
BTW, the eggplant hot dish *was* absolutely the best dish, but it was listed in the Vegetables section of the menu. If a vegan ordered it, they'd be unpleasantly surprised by the bits of un-advertised pork. (which, IMO, made the dish!).
Hm. Was wondering what hounds thought of it after reading Mark Bittman's article in the NYT last week. I thought his other choices were weak (Mission 216 and Foo Chow) so wasn't confident in Triumphal...but if dimsum is different from the rest of the menu, then maybe that's the only meal we can recommend?
Exactly my point. Mark Bittman doesn't have the heartfelt gritty love of the ugly but authentic that Jonathan Gold does. I'm Chinese, and was not impressed by his fairly white bread choices.
Since I've heard of the downhill alert at Empress, I'm looking for a replacement. oh well, I'll look up the earlier discussions next time I'm ready to go.