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chinese friends disappointed w/mei long village

i took some of my chinese american friends to mei long village. all of them grew up in SGV, but none of them have been to mei long, much less heard of it. they found the food to be overpriced and inferior to some of their other favorite places (none of which are really discussed on this board).

i, on the other hand, was quite pleased with the food. we ordered a good variety of dishes for 8 people, including XLB. there were a lot of non-chinese diners while we were there (sunday afternoon). i lived in china for a year and i must admit that i find san gabriel chinese food to be leagues better than most of what i had in china!

i'll have to get a list of my friends' favorite places and report back. :) when i was trying to give them directions to the restaurant, i said, "it's on valley, between new and del mar", and they just laughed at me. hehe. yeah, that area is seriously saturated with restaurants!

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  1. Most of my Cantonese American friends and relatives don't like Shanghai style food. There's some element of parochialism in that, though it's a one way street, i.e., non-Cantonese Chinese typically do like Hong Kong/Cantonese food. That could have been part of the problem.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Chandavkl

      our group was comprised of taiwanese, hong kong, and northern chinese people...pretty diverse! :)

      1. re: greengelato

        You might want to ask them if they actually like Shanghai cuisine. Many Chinese folks don't know much about other types of Chinese cuisines. Indeed, many of my Chinese co-workers and friends (from China and Taiwan) actually ask me about what they should order in a Cantonese restaurant for dinner or dim sum. They can read the Chinese characters but have no idea on what the food tastes like.

        1. re: raytamsgv

          Yeah, I think that's right.

          To say "Chinese" is just too broad.

    2. Having grown up in LA eating Chinese food all the time, I've always thought Chinese food was kinda boring, aside from a few things I love (Peking Duck, live boiled prawns with that dipping sauce, et al.)...until two months ago, when I went to Shanghai. Everything I had there, including Cantonese food, was IMHO a million times better than anything I've had in LA. Except for durian. That stuff is gross no matter where I get it. ;-)

      1 Reply
      1. re: mrhooks

        The best durian I've ever had was fresh durian in Tokyo. Having had it many times here, I can say with certainty that fresh durian (durian here is shipped frozen, I believe) is DELICIOUS, and does not have ANY of the rancid smell that I've come to expect. It was so sweet and so delicious that I actually crave it from time to time. I now know why it is such a delicacy, for sure! Then again, fruit in Japan is delicious in general!

      2. "..some of their other favorite places (none of which are really discussed on this board)."

        so which shanghai-style chinese restaurants do they prefer?

        2 Replies
        1. re: adevejian

          "..i'll have to get a list of my friends' favorite places and report back."

        2. I tried to like MLV, I really did. Twice. Two years apart between visits. Each time I came away thinking, why is this place so popular with Chowhounders? I just don't get it. Their famed XLB just had that awful leathery skin, and tasted "off" to me both then as well as now. It tasted funky, like they used old meat. The other dishes that I had, while pretty good, won't threaten newer, better places like Green Village.

          Two disappointing visits is enough for me. I conclude that Mei Long Village is one of the most overrated establishments on Chowhound.

          1 Reply
          1. re: WBGuy

            I am in agreement with you. Myself and a fellow chowhounder were there for lunch yesterday as well, and this being our second time there - neither of us were jumping for joy at the meal we ate. The first time we dined there the xlb seemed much fresher and "soupier", yesterday they seemed much fishier and barely contained any soup. We ordered the pork pump which got such acclaim on this site and while it was good and moist - it was lacking a lot of flavor. The eggplant in hot garlic sauce was barely spicy at all and I have certainly had better elsewhere. I don't get the hype personally, but I'm starting to feel that way about 90% of the restaurants highly lauded on this board. *shrug*

          2. I had a similar experience at a dinner there recently with some 'seasoned' SGV Chinese friends. They've had better pork pump, dumplings, jade shrimp, etc... elsewhere...

            But for me, being very much non-chinese, I've been to those places that they talked about and honestly felt very unwelcome... while Mei Longs Staff has always been wonderful to me (Which is why I organized the dinner there).

            So while I do agree... better versions might exist, for the overall chowhound world, I am glad a clean and accessible place like Mei Long does exist to dip our toes into that world...

            Anyway, when traveling around with 'seasoned circles' Be it my Wine Collector friends or Stinky Tofu loving Taiwanese ones... I tend to let them pick! :)


            3 Replies
            1. re: Dommy

              We have not got the post of those "other better places" yet, and myself also being non-chinese find the staff friendly and accomodating! I so agree with the way you stated it as "clean and accessible". Meaning "A" in the window, menus in english and someone on the staff that can speak english and doesn't mind. Not to mention I still love the food.

              1. re: rantsnravesnreviews

                i asked my friends (they're my neighbors) and they said they only know the chinese names (they're shanghainese restaurants). they did say, however, that those restaurants are more hole in the wall-ish and not the best environment for a non-chinese speaker (though they were born here).

                1. re: greengelato

                  Get names / addresses.

                  And I know there are at least a couple of Chinese speakers posting to this thread.

            2. I guess the gf isn't going to chime in here... anyway, my gf is Chinese, from Shanghai (mostly brought up here, but she's been back in semi-recent memory), and her dad is also from Shanghai (and, if memory serves, used to make dumplings in a restaurant)... they both like MLZ and rate the food pretty highly there. We've tried at least some of the other Shanghaiese restaurants in the area (can't remember names, but one stand-alone restaurant on Atlantic, and the Shanghaiese place on the second floor at the big mall at Valley and Del Mar)... the general consensus is that MLZ is the best of the bunch we've tried (for that style of food).