San Gabriel area - NY hound a bit lost
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?
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...
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.
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.
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.
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
* Chung King - 206 S Garfield Ave, Monterey Park
Taiwanese (sausage, vermicelli soup noodle, etc.):
* Sin Ba La - 651 W Duarte Rd, Arcadia
* Indo Kitchen - 5 N 4th St, Alhambra
* Babita - 1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel
Yep, still scratching the surface.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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...
re: Dr. Debs
I just came back from that intersection as I type. I went looking for the sunday Farmer's Market that someone said was behind the shopping mall at Main and Garfield. Never found it. (need more info, please!) Then intending to eat at the Golden Deli, as the local friend had suggested I somehow got side-tracked and ended up eating at the Sichuan place on the edge of the strip. Didn't really see a proper name in English, but it's 閔記川味麵家, it might just be Noodle House. The name in English means "Ming3 Ji4" (belonging to name of owner's)Sichuan Cuisine Noodle House. There were nothing in English that I could see on the menu. I had really wanted ribs rolled in rice flour and steamed on a bed of yam/squash. so I order that. I also saw that they have tea-smoked duck, but didn't have enough people to eat it with. Making a mental note of it, priced at $7.95 for half a duck. My co-worker ordered intestine with rice noodles. We shared a sour daikon duck soup. All were quite satisfying. I always love how the sweetness of the squash/pumpkin/yam balances out the spiciness of the meat. The meat came off the bones very cleanly, and there were plenty of meat on the bone. Tender and flavorful.
I keep looking at the first item on the menu though. It looks like beef short rib noodle soup. (edit: for Shaven noodles it's 50 cents extra for all the noodle soup dishes.) I love short rib! So, next time I think I know what I'm ordering.
It looks like they have another location, maybe in Rowland Heights? I can't remember now. They didn't have any to-go menus so I will have to look closely next time I go.
but there you have it, never made it to the Golden Deli, but made a fun detour. I will be back.
I went back to this Sichuan place tonight to get the Tea Smoke Duck, half of a duck for $7.95. This is the 2nd time I'm back at this strip mall sort of intending to go to the Golden Deli, but once again the call of the Tea Smoked Duck was too strong instead of walking into the Vietnamese restaurant, my legs just did a diagnal left...
This was THE duck that I had originally. my first ever Tea Smoked Duck was smoked like this and deep fried so that the skin is crispy. I first had it in Houston, Texas over 10 years ago, at a place called Dumpling King. After I left Houston and came to NY I had another similar to this, at a restaurant called China Peace in Time Square. Then they closed. Ever since all the Tea Smoked Ducks, from Grand Sichuan International, from the famous Spicy and Tasty are all "wrong" according to my memory. (I'm sure there's a regional reason for this, maybe Chong Qing vs. ChengDu? or something like that?)
Anyhow, the flavor is awesome, the meat is a little lean and sticking to the bones, but the skin and the fat more than made up for it!
I also tried the Beef Rib Noodle soup, (No. 1 on the menu). The aroma of this soup is fantastic to me. Once again, this was like the beef noodle soup from my Taiwanese childhood, dark but not sickly rich. I could drink it like soup. (In fact, was it Porthos who was looking for this in Manhattan once, Porthos, are you there?! Come to this place!) Medium spicy is pretty mild. The weakest part of this restaurant so far is the rice and the tea. So don't go there for that. I wish the duck was meatier, but that flavor is perfect for me!
I think the address is 827 Las Tunas. Closed on Tuesdays. 626 284 8898
By the way, I think there was another chowhound there tonight..someone who ordered the spicy wonton, and the 5 Geng pig intestine (Wu3 Geng1 Chang2 Wang4)., and who, upon seeing us order the tea smoked duck, order one to go, too. She was alone, couldn't finish her food that she was taking home..and yet, and here's a kindred Chowhounish behavior: when the duck came, she opened it, took out a drumstick and ate it right away while poking holes on the container so that the deep friedness doesn't get soggy...
(No English menu, but No. 22 is the dish i tried during my first visit : steamed ribs rolled in rice flour on a bed of sweet yam/squah. Oh, and the tea smoked duck isn't on the menu. (樟茶鴨 zhang1 cha2 Ya1) neither was the 五更腸旺Wu3 Geng1 Chang2 Wang4)
Hahaha. Yes, in Manhattan, I had a hard time finding beef noodle soup. In LA, they're all over the place. Actually, my favorite noodle soup in LA is "chao ma mien". It's a spicy seafood noodle soup. If you can find it with handpulled noodles, it's even better. My favorite version is actually in the Inland Empire and I'm still trying to find a decent version in Rowland Heights or SGV. Next time you're in a noodle shop that does hand-pulled noodles, look for this awesome soup (shrimp, cuttlefish, beef, cabbage, zucchini all in a dark red spicy broth). It's from the region of China bordering Korea.
One of our favorite spots in San Gabriel is La Vie. A traditional, but inexpensive, French place run by Vietnamese. The decor is so-so, but the food is great, and the prices cannot be beat. I think meals are $15-20 including a salad, soup and vegetables with your main course. I enjoy their Grand Marnier Soufle a lot as well. The wine list is so-so, but the corkage fee is only $8. The location is on Rosemead south of the 10 freeway on the west side of the road in a little strip mall. Don't let the location or mall fool you. This is a real gem. There are lots of other reviews of La Vie, if you search this board.
other popular and tasty taiwanese places not noted here you may want to call to see if they have certain dishes are:
633 S San Gabriel Blvd Ste 105
San Gabriel, CA, 91776
sinbala (snack joint behind-ish din tai fun)
651 W Duarte Rd Ste F
Arcadia, CA, 91007
pa pa walk (pa pa zuo)
227 W. Valley Blvd,
San Gabriel, CA, 91776
im sure you can find your ya xue gao (duck blood cake) somewhere here.
i also like golden deli. its one of those, 'has everything places"
i also really like nga trang for bun cha hanoi (bbq'ed pork and pork meatballs over bun noodles with lots of fresh herbs) and their goi cuon (which is what they - related to brodard - are famous for). they also have bun bo hue and clay pot rice.
647 W Valley Blvd
Alhambra, CA, 91803
i've been really likeing hunan's restaurant lately too, but better to go with a group to get more dishes.
903 W Valley Blvd.
Alhambra, CA, 91803
as for banh mi technique, there are so many, and many are good. there are usually two bread options. the longer, thinner, crispier baguettes are the way to go.
they will often also have 2 for 1; or 3 for 2; or even 3 for 1 prices, but thats usually for the rounder squatter, less fresh bread. i'd avoid these....
there is also a shinsengumi hakata rament in your hood that opened relatively recently. i havent been to this location but the one in the southbay is good. check out their worlds smallest gyoza.
8450 E Valley Blvd
Rosemead, CA, 91770
i looked it up on yelp.com for the address. and the other 4 places that pop up as adjacent are: babita restaurant (hi end mexican). mr baguette (good buy slightly over priced banh mi) claros market, petrillos pizza, and pho pasteur.
I've been to the Rosemead Shin Sen Gumi maybe a dozen times this past year. It's addicting. Haven't been to their other locations so I can't say how it stacks up, but our visits have all been great. I'm not a ramen connoisseur by any means so take it for what it's worth, but I prefer it to anything else I've had in LA, including Daikokuya.
daikokuya went downhill. i even asked the waitress if they changed owners and she said the manager "changed the recipe" it was totally obvious. i said "it was totally different" she said "different good or different bad?" i said "different bad" she said, "ill let the manager know"
i wont be going back until i hear that they've fixed things.
wow. yea, golden deli (las tunas and mission) or golden brisket pho at pho 79 on garfield & main. mon land hot pot (off valley, behind san gabriel valley square, directly across from the Hilton hotel) or little fat sheep (on atlantic) for northern hot pot. mr. lee's sandwiches (valley and new). mei long village for xiao long bao (prospect plaza - valley and prospect). this is all assuming you have a car!
You might want to try Cafe Eight on Garvey just east of garfield. They have guilin style rice noodles - for your Guangxi fix.
Across the street is heavy noodling which has very good DaoShao mian, and Mao erduo noodles as well.
And just up Garfield from Garvey on the left side in Yungui restaurant (english refers to Yunnan-Guizhou, but chinese name is Yun-Chuan because they serve some dishes from both provinces). GuoQiao -crossing bridge noodles and yunnan steampot (qi-guo) chicken.
ON Colima Rd in Rowland Heights is an excellent Hunan restaurant, verysimple, very hot with smoky peppers etc.)
For Taiwan-shih, Ican't really help. There are a few dongbei places around, with corn bao (yumi-bao) etc. If you want more info on those - let us know. Also, Try Babita's while you're in san gabriel. If they have chiles en nogada, order them.
For a list of places in your area (not exhaustive, but some) and you know Chinese, check out
18414 E. Colima Rd., #S2
(for example just looking at the list, here's a szechwan place i'd like to try...
蜀風園 Shufeng Garden 18459 Colima Rd.
18406 E COLIMA RD #D
(interesting mall, Chinese name - 湘軍府
Hunan Restaurant 18406 Colima Rd., #D
also nearby is 湘園餐廳
Charming Garden Restaurant
19240 E. Colima Rd.
153 E. Garvey Ave.
110 E. Garvey Ave.
Hua's Chinese Delicacies AKA YunGui.
301 N. Garfield Ave., #D
BTW there's plenty more. LOTS and lots more, all types. Even a branch of fast-food MaLan La Mian.
1823 S SAN GABRIEL BLVD
Jerome, Shufeng Garden on Colima is excellent. See my above reply to HLing. We've been going to the place for at least 3 years now. They have an excellent spicy chicken with red and schezuan peppers. Try their house-made side dishes (pickled cucumbers, spicy tripe, spicy beef, etc). They also have a stew made of ginko nuts, tripe, pork hocks, and chicken. Their lions head with crab roe is also good.
It's quite heart warming to read so many input from the LA chowhounds. The list of places to try is getting longer and longer. I'm overwhelmed, happily.
Today while waiting for my friend to go to the bank, I saw Olympic Bakery from across the parking lot, to the left of K-Mart. Nothing around it was alluring. The bakery itself didn't seem too attractive, either. Yet, something drew me there. Once inside, I was surprised to find little bags of Preserved fruits from Taiwan. One I had to get was the pinkish crushed olives. The pink is the same spicing as the Haw pieces that I like a lot. The other I got also for nastalgic reason was dried carambula (star fruit) that wasn't artificially colored, and was also smashed flat, like the olives.
I thought it odd for me to get preserved fruit from a bakery, but once I got up to the counter to pay I saw a young man cutting mangoes carefully. Looked great. Probably for the Mango cake.
Then I also saw, and felt the warmth of these huge pockets of ham and cheese. The top layer was all crunchy and savory. The inside was creamy and hot wit cheese and ham. What's more, the bread was NOT the usual Asian bakery sweet, fast rising bread, but something that actually had substance. Next to it was whole wheat bun with big kidney beans all cooked and sweet and inside the bread.( It's different from the usual mushed up navy beans)..these beans were whole and sweetened. The bread was great! Both these bread were only 1.25 dollars each.
Olympic Bakery ;
5623 N Rosemead,
Temple City, CA
626 285 8532
Gotta try that Mango cake one of these days....