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San Gabriel area - NY hound a bit lost

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I'm in San Gabriel for about 2 weeks. Having gotten used to NYC's subway system, I'm feeling really lost. So far I've enjoyed QQ's Taiwanese lunch box (great pork chops - deep fried without batter, dark, juicy, and just the right amount of fatty bits) and am hoping to go back to try the shaved ice, where I saw really tender and fluffy white almond tofu as one of the topping. And also, in the same strip of mall the Honey Bee Bakery had really oustanding Pineapple newton (I'm calling it that, but it's Fong4 Li2 Su1 in Taiwanese)that's fresh tasting and good in both the fruit and pastry.

I'm digressing, but how shall I get my bearing here? Anyone who knows who NY and LA to offer some chow tips?

Thanks!

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  1. Well, are you looking only for Taiwanese, or open to other options?

    Just east of Valley and Delta is Banh Mi Che Cali, which is a Vietnamese sandwich store. 3 sandwiches for $3.50, plus $1.00 for iced coffee or $1.00 for che (the various gloppy coconut-based Viet desserts)... can't beat it.

    Green Village at 250 E. Valley has excellent Shanghainese fare, including a pork with bean curd (which is tied into knots) that I craved immediately after finishing it.

    China Islamic, on Garvey and (I think) Del Mar has great cold-weather lamb dishes, and sesame-scallion bread -- I like thin better than thick.

    Senor Baja, at 9611 E. Garvey (east of Rosemead Blvd.), has some of the best fish tacos you'll ever eat -- and if you need a "fish taco-off", go then to Tacos Baja Ensenada which is east of Atlantic on Whittier Blvd. -- I'm never quite sure which is better.

    My Hanh, in the same plaza as Senor Baja, has excellent bun.

    This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface... there's dim sum, there's Kang Kang cafeteria, there's Heavy Noodling...

    6 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      Banh Mi Che Cali shares a strip mall with 888 (see below) and what looks to be a decent Northern Chinese restaurant (we haven't tried it but it's well-patronized and it sure smells good)...and if you feel like something Italian instead, there's a Claro's Italian grocery about half a block west! Must be one of the most calorie-intensive bits of real estate in LA County.

      1. re: Will Owen

        If you're talking about Ji Rong, yes, it's a very good restaurant. Their "tofu noodles" are very, very tasty.

        1. re: Das Ubergeek

          Actually...be careful. The busy restaurant in the 888 strip mall is Bei Fang Jiu Lou, which is actually pretty terrible. The restaurant has an agreement with a Chinese travel agency so Chinese travelers eat there, which is why it appears to be busy. You will notice on any given night that all the patrons have camera bags and will eat quickly, and then board a bus to the next destination. The food is not very good, and the service is even worse.

          But, I agree that the not-quite-as-busy Ji Rong is great. I love the tofu noodles too! My favorite dish there is the cold rice noodles with sesame paste and horseradish.

          1. re: christina752

            Ji Rong, for those playing along at home, is the one that is actually ON Valley Blvd. -- it's not along the strip mall on either side.

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              With all due respect, Ji Rong sucks.

            2. re: christina752

              Bei Fang Jiu Lou is on the East side of the mall, and I also think it isn't that good. It definitely caters to Chinese travelers. 888 is on the West side of the mall. Banh Mi Che Cali is on the Northwest corner. Ji Rong is just east of Banh Mi Che Cali; as Ubergeek mentioned, it's actually located on Valley Blvd. If you aren't sure about your directions, remember that the San Gabriel Mountains (you can't miss them) are to the north.

      2. A good banh mi is hard, if not impossible, to find in NYC. Two dependable, representative places for banh mi with differing styles:
        * Ba Le - 1422 S Atlantic Blvd, Alhambra
        * Mr. Baguette - 8702 Valley Blvd, Rosemead

        Dim sum survey:
        * Triumphal Palace - 500 W Main St, Alhambra
        * Sea Harbour - 3939 Rosemead Blvd, Rosemead
        * 888 Seafood - 8450 Valley Blvd, Rosemead
        * New Concept - 700 S Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park

        In addition to Green Village, for Shanghainese:
        * Mei Long Village - 301 W Valley Blvd, San Gabriel

        Sichuan:
        * Chung King - 206 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park

        Taiwanese (sausage, vermicelli soup noodle, etc.):
        * Sin Ba La - 651 W Duarte Rd, Arcadia

        Indonesian:
        * Indo Kitchen - 5 N 4th St, Alhambra

        Innovative Mexican:
        * Babita - 1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel

        Yep, still scratching the surface.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kiwonyoon

          I would also add the OTHER Chung King, run by the people who used to operate the MP one, at 1000 S. San Gabriel Blvd. in San Gabriel. Unlike the one in Monterey Park, the SG Chung King DOES take plastic and they DO have beer. We've eaten there a couple of times and will definitely go back.

          Another place for a good cheap and filling meal is Pho 79, on Garfield a few doors south of Main in Alhambra. It's part of a chain and looks it (plastic plants need dusting, listless waiters) but the pho is really good and dirt cheap. There's a better and funkier place on Valley somewhere, but I cannot remember the name nor the exact location. Can anybody help with this one? It's in another former fast-food franchise building on the north side of the street, I think in San Gabriel.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Oops, I was referring to the Chung King in SG, but copied/pasted the wrong address. Yep, the SG one is the one.

        2. The other Pho 79 is on Valley and Walnut in San Gabriel. We always go to that one. Actually we just ate there last night. Don't except any services. But the food is cheap and especailly good on a cold night.

          1. The best for dinner is Embassy on San Gabriel Blvd just south of Las Tunas. It does all the standard Cantonese dishes very well and offers some excellent dishes not usually found elsewhere-- Baked crab rice wrapped in Lotus leaf, duck web with green papayas, boneless, flattened fried chicken with a sticky rice crust, filet of Chilean Sea Bass with a very light garlic sauce, fried sticky rice etc. It is less expensive than Seafood Harbour but more expensive than Sam Woo and other similar restaurants. Up the street at the Las Tunas junction is Red Corner which serves a lot of Chinese comfort food, mostly Shanghainese, very cheaply. The quality is quite good, though not as meticulous as J and J on Valley. Bon apetit.

            1. Thanks everyone for the replies!

              "Well, are you looking only for Taiwanese, or open to other options?" Das Ubergeek, I'm always up for Taiwanese food, but am open to other options. I'm also needing to find a cheap source for a good cast iron pan (with lid would be great) or any used All-Clad. Are there flea markets for this sort of things? There's also a need to find option for good fresh water for tea-making (is San Gabriel water drinkable?), and fresh diary (like Roonybrook, the non-"ultra-pasterized" type)...sorry, the list is long, but any input would be much appreciated!

              "A good banh mi is hard, if not impossible, to find in NYC. Two dependable, representative places for banh mi with differing styles.." Kiwonyoon, that almost sounds like a challenge to the NY banh mi..but I'm more than happy to be persuaded. Actually, so far the banh mi I had here in San Gabriel didn't do so well. There were no butter nor pate on the bread. The bread was not crisp on the outside and was a bit heavy and bready. The vineger daikon and carrot shreds were a bit too thick. I will report back when I find out where this batch I had came from.

              While at QQ I thought I spotted some duck-blood sticky rice pieces (looks black & white like a piece of black sesame chip, rectangular in shape) in a bowl with other Oden like items. Does anyone know if they or any other Taiwanese places offer the duck-blood cake on a stick rolled in fresh ground peanuts with cilantro and the red sauce? That would hit a spot definitely, as I had one, just ONE, piece on the street while back in Taiwan last month.

              9 Replies
              1. re: HLing

                I've never had banh mi anywhere, including Little Saigon and San Jose, with butter on the bread... and around here you have to ask for the pate, it doesn't automatically come. Most banh mi here are made with aioli (or whatever you want to call the garlicky mayonnaisey spread) and sometimes a sweet soy-type liquid.

                The SGV has fresh dairy all over the place -- you should pay a visit to Broguiere's in Montebello, arguably the highest-quality (but most expensive) in the area. It's cheaper at the dairy than in local stores, however.

                Yes, most of the water in Southern California is either Colorado River water or snowmelt from the Sierra (which is the same place the bottled waters like Crystal Geyser come from) so it's drinkable. If you find the taste objectionable you can filter it.

                There is a water store on San Gabriel Blvd. between Garvey and Hellman (south of the 10), on the left side of the street. It's only marked "water agua nuoc 水" so be on the lookout for it.

                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Thanks for the info! I will look for Broguiere's.

                  I was just weary about the water because when I typed in San Gabriel before coming to LA to do a search, one of the fist things that came up was about the dumping near the reservoir; the dumping that was stopped was going to start again. I couldn't understand much of the writing, but it didn't sound too good....Then on my 2nd day here I was near the reservoir (didn't actually go up there to see but saw joggers up there) and also saw Waste Management right around the same area.

                2. re: HLing

                  For good banh mi, try Baguette Du Jour in Alhambra on Valley Bl near Fremont Ave. It is a little hole in the wall with a small menu but very good. I don't like thick and bready baguettes either, but they bake their own bread daily and it is very light and crispy. The BBQ beef banh mi is delicious and about $2.50

                  1. re: Ernie

                    Thanks! I've added it to my list of Bahn mi places.

                  2. re: HLing

                    HLing, I recall your posts from the olden days of chowhound back when I was still living in Manhattan. As you know, Taiwanese food is not Manhattan's forte. If you have a car, and are willing to do some traveling, you can also check out Rowland Heights (east of San Gabriel). To re-iterate or add to your current excellent recs:

                    San Gabriel:

                    Yung Ho: There are two locations in San Gabriel. We prefer the original location (533 W Valley Blvd). It's our favorite for Taiwanese cruellers, salty dou jiang, stinky tofu and the likes.

                    888 Seafood (8450 Valley Blvd, Rosemead): Not taiwanese but call ahead to order the whole winter melon soup served in winter melon. It's a mere $30-$40 depending on what size you get and it's filled with delicious seafood.

                    Other things to try that may need a little mapquesting:

                    Din Tai Fung: Excellent taiwanese style soup dumpling and fresh handmade steamed dumplings.

                    Rowland Heights: There's a szechuan restaurant in the same shopping center as Newport Seafood (18441 Colima Rd). They have a spicy chicken dish that's at least 50% red chilies. Their lions head is excellent. They also have a soup made from simmered tripe, trotter, chicken, and ginko nuts. It's very rich and very good.

                    Enjoy!

                    1. re: Porthos

                      Porthos! I remember you from way back, too.
                      I wonder if the szechuan place you're talking about is the same as the one I went to today? (see my reply to Dr. Debs)

                      1. re: HLing

                        Nope. The szechuan place in Rowland has no english name on the outside. It's also at the end of a shopping center. Actually, it's right next to a food court. Within this food court, is another Taiwanese eatery. It's the first one on your right as you enter and named after the night market in Taiwan.

                        You get 3 dishes for $15 or so and those 3 dishes are better prepared than any Taiwanese place in Manhattan...whole fried fish, "3 cups chicken", "3 cups dungeness crab" (for a supplement, on-choy with beef and taiwanese BBQ sauce. They also have a medicinal lamb hot pot for $15. The only downside is that you may be expected to write out your own order in chinese.

                        Across the street is another shopping center that has stinky tofu multiple ways...

                    2. re: HLing

                      Try Won Won, which is a Taiwanese restaurant in the mini-mall just east of QQ (there's a Donut Star on the corner). I've heard very good reviews about the place.

                      1. re: raytamsgv

                        Second the rec for Won Won -- former owners and operators of QQ.

                        Get the house special chicken rice, congee and the liver plate.