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Jan 20, 2007 01:02 AM

Golden Deli in San Gabriel, Yazmin in Alhambra, Tung Lai Shun in San Gabriel, and Charming Garden in Monterey Park

Has anyone been to any of these joints? More importantly are they all still in existence and what's good to get here (just got my hands on an old Johnny Apple article on mostly SGV joints).

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  1. Regretably, Charming Garden closed about two years ago. It is now Happy Family Vegetarian.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Paliman

      Tung Lai Shun is gone as well!

    2. Tung Lai Shun has also closed (or has gone under new management and is no longer a Chinese Islamic restaurant).

      1. Tung Lai Shun is closed, but Golden Deli is still open and hopping on Main Street in San Gabriel. If the wait is too long at Golden Deli, just head across the street to its sister restaurant, Vietnamese House. Great cha gio in addition to the immaculately greaseless pho.

        1. Wait, so where's the chinese islamic restaurant of choice now. And are you talking about the place in the "Great Mall of China"? Cuz I hope not but I got a bad feeling...

          1 Reply
          1. re: echoparkdirt

            Great Mall place is a Taiwanese place now. I really like China Islamic Restaurant, esp. lamb/noodle dishes and scallion bread!


          2. IMHO, Yazmin is probably the most authentic Malaysian restaurant that I've tried here - authentic in that if you were invited to someone's home in Malaysia, especially someone who was Chinese, this is what the food would taste like. Kuala Lumpur the Malaysian restaurant in Pasadena, is really good as well - just more dressed up - and a fellow blogger mentioned that they closed down recently. So Yazmin is really the only game in town, but a very very respectable one.

            The acar, rojak, roti canai, hokkien noodles, laksa, mi goreng, claypot, kankong... I can go on and on... it's all really good. Even the satay, which is more like street food, is excellent. Their Hainanese chicken rice - practically a staple in Malaysia and Singapore - is great. As seemingly basic as this dish is, it is very hard for restaurants to duplicate it here - but Yazmin's is very respectable.

            The place feels somewhat large and airy, and the staff is very polite and helpful. Since we live about 40 minutes away from Yazmin, we usually order dishes to go as well - stuff that will keep well so we can make the most of our visit there... Give them a try - I have always been very satified here...

            12 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              Is there really not much else other than Yazmin? Been there once, and I thought it was merely okay.

              Been to Kuala Lumpur many times over the years, but not since a particularly bad experience last time with a dish that was clearly over-salted. A Malay-Chinese friend at the meal considered it pretty poor. Probably a one-time mistake? I didn't know they had closed recently.

              1. re: kiwonyoon

                Don't know what you ordered, or what you were expecting, but having been to Malaysia and Singapore a fair amount of times, I feel that these two places have really good Malaysian food. I would have to guess that your bad experience at KL was an anomoly. We've always found both places to be very accomodating - I would have mentioned your problem to the staff - I am sure they would have corrected it or comped you. Been there with both Chinese and Malay Malaysians who all were very happy with the food. The common comments from practically everyone though is that, "It's just not quite the same..." which is always the the comment from anyone who is from anywhere who is used to their exact interpretation of their food back home - the places, the smells, etc. I always roll my eyes and retort with, "The strawberries, oranges, and avocados just aren't the same here in KL as they are back in LA." Also, Malaysian food typically requires some ingredients that are somewhat unusual and harder to come by here in the US, so dishes will probably never have the exact taste one recalls from home. For example, ask your friend how the durian compares here to back home. Things are getting better - try to source items like fresh rambutan and mangosteen 10 years ago and no one would know what you were talking about. Now, growers in Hawaii and Mexico are starting to supplying such items.

                Again, as I mentioned in my entry above, IMHO, Yazmin's food has the authenticity of what you'd get in someone's home - not from a street hawker - back in Malaysia. I think it's important to point this out because hawker stalls will kick up their food with alot of stuff that moms at home won't do or use. And not to take away anything from hawkers because alot of them are very very good at what they cook. And probably the one food item that no one over here can replicate as well is satay. You have to have your senses lit up by the experience of approaching, seeing, hearing, smelling, and ultimately tasting it. Satay Hawkers are about 100x more plentiful over there then Starbucks are here. The standard fuel for cooking satay is real charcoal, and they are constantly fanning it by hand to bring it to it's highest optimal temp. The sound and smell that this creates is amazing, and seeing the meat start to bubble and char is just irresistable. The real pros will hold about 20 skewers that are fanned out and constantly wave them back and forth over the fire to graze them with the intense heat just enough to slightly char the meat, but not burn it. And the satay must be eaten as soon as you are able to withstand the searing heat as this is when the flavor is at its peak.

                We've tried other Malaysian restaurants and either haven't been impressed or found the food to be inconsistant. Little Malaysia in El Monte was really good for a while, but had a few disappointments - these happened when we drove all the way from the Westside with relatives from Malaysia... Penang in West Covina was ok... Belacan in Redondo Beach is pretty good but we found it to be overpriced... Now the one place we haven't tried but shows promise is Nonya in Pasadena... I have heard alot of good things about it in the media but I also know this place is pricey for this kind of food. When you've eaten this type of food in Malaysia or Singapore, it's hard to justify paying $12-$15 for something that would cost you a buck or two over there... However, we do plan on biting the bullet and going there some time... You may want to try Nonya with your friend and see how it compares...

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  Nonya is long gone. They were "closed for remodeling" for a really long time, and now I think there's something else in that space.

                  Dang, you really have to move fast around here!

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    Doh! Okay - scratch them off the list - tarimakasi!

                  2. re: bulavinaka

                    Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. I'll have to give Yazmin another try; maybe I've judged too quickly. I had had a long string of good meals at KL so it definitely seemed like an anomaly that time...

                    1. re: kiwonyoon

                      My pleasure... I hope you have a more enjoyable experience this time around... Chinese New Year is around the corner... they might be offering some specials that are traditionally served around then...

                  3. re: kiwonyoon

                    Not sorry to see Kuala Lumpur close down. Went there one time, the food was /revolting/, I couldn't wait to leave the place. While there's good Indonesian food to be had in LA, Singapore/Malaysian food representation is still severely lacking.

                    1. re: WBGuy

                      Sorry to hear you gagged there... personally didn't have that problem, but then again, once we started eating more at Yazmin, we starting eating less at KL... Parking is easy at Yazmin - tough at KL. Food is great and reasonably priced too. The last time we ate at KL was about 3 years ago. Where's your frequented Indonesian places? We like Simpang Asia and Ramayani - both reasonably close to home...

                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Simpang Asia... get the nasi bungkus or nasi warteg. Indo Kitchen in Alhambra... the fried chicken there is rather good. I live two blocks away from Ramayani which is just ok... yet I'd rather drive to Simpang Asia or Indo Cafe across the street.

                        I haven't tried Yazmin yet, but hope to soon.

                        1. re: WBGuy

                          We like Simpang Asia as well - they are great for a quick meal to go. We go about twice a month. We had tried Indo Cafe a few times over the course of a year when they first opened in the 90s - we weren't impressed. That was a while ago so maybe it's time to give it another go...

                          We like Ramayani because they have great sambals - considered a condiment by those not native to the region - revered as a neccesity by those who are from there. My father-in-law from Malacca makes some great sambals and he was impressed by theirs... he also liked their their goat soup - he is a picky man. We also like the family members there - always so nice, especially the matriarch who loves kids (we always bring our rugrats along).

                          We will have to make an extreme effort to make it to Indo Kitchen as we usually have a habit to eat at Yazmin. I used to scuba dive alot - in the South Pacific - Fiji to be exact, and people would always ask me why I didn't continue on and go to Australia. My response would be that once you've found paradise, you needn't go any further...

                      2. re: WBGuy

                        Never had anything at KL that wasn't much less than wonderful, and that used to be our default place whenever we were in Old Town, so we went there almost once a month, sometimes more often. Don't know where we'll go now - Good and Cheap do not co-exist in any other OT place we know of, at least as far as real food in quiet surroundings is concerned. And parking is no problem at all if you don't mind feeding the meters on Fair Oaks.

                        Sooo...where is this Yazmin of which you speak?

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I hate feeding meters... or I should say I hate the tickets I get because I forget feeding the meters... I guess it's a moot point now that KL is gone...

                          I wouldn't call Yazmin good and cheap, but they are good, and they are very reasonable.
                          Their add is 27 E. Main St in Alhambra... free parking in back...