Chang's Garden - Arcadia
I wanted to report an excellent meal at Chang's Garden in Arcadia on Saturday night. I took my group of loud gays back to the SGV for another big fun dinner. We have previously gone to Chung King (when we were only 5 gays), then to Green Village (when we were a very loud dozen), and then to Lu Gin Kee for a peking duck feast.
I booked for 8 of us at 9pm, and the place was totally empty when we arrived - and shockingly bright. The staff was excited to have us, and was very friendly and helpful.
We ordered the shortribs in lotus leaves, which I thought were fantastic, and got very good comments from the crowd. The Shanghai-style spare-ribs, were less loved, and even called Panda-Express style, but I had no complaints. We also LOVED the five-spice beef in pastry, and ordered a second go around. The pea shoots were great, but the bok choy with black mushrooms a little uninspired. I liked the chicken with chestnuts, which had a real good sauce. I thought the green tea shrimp were boring.
Dinner for 8 was about $180 including beer.
The short ribs and beef in pastry were knock-out dishes in my opinion and definitely worth a trip back.
Also - I had dinner at Chung King last Saturday with the cousins, and had a great dinner again. My experience here is pretty up and down. Out of 8 visits, maybe two were exceptional, two lousy, and the rest very good. This was a very good meal. We had the water boiled fish, crispy rice with pork (with that mucousy sauce), long beans, the peppery fried chicken, some beef thing, and it was all great. That fish is so damn good - I have never had a bad time with that. We skipped the prickly ash spareribs, because I have been disappointed in them at my past four of five trips.
So where should I take my group of 8-12 loud homos next?
The Shinsengumi in Monterey Park on Atlantic might be a fun place to try. This location has yakitori and shabu shabu. The staff is loud and welcoming (expected from most izakaya places!) so you guys should fit right in! The decor is nice and you can get the private room if you spend $250 or more (which isn't hard to do).
Great report, lalaw. I just finished reading a semi-good novel called "The Last Chinese Chef" by Nicole Mones. Since I am a Chinese food freak parts of the book really appealed to me (as an eater, if not a reader). Anyway Mr. Chang's Lotus Leaf Ribs figure quite importantly in the novel.
As for where to go next, Hunan Seafood, or a Hot Pot specialist would be my thoughts. If you can handle not drinking, China Islamic would be nice.
re: Ciao Bob
I can't think of a better place for a bunch of loud homos (or anyone who's into communal hysteria) to get crazy than a hot pot joint. Our sole experience along those lines was at Little Sheep in Monterey Park, which has great big tables and lots of sterling opportunities for Too Much Fun, along with WAY too much good eats. You'd need to check on the drinkage situation - I seriously can't remember if they have grownup bevvies or not.
Newport Seafood in San Gabriel is another exercise in semi-controlled rioting - the tables rapidly become much too small when the platters of messy finger-food (it all is, even when utensils are provided) start to arrive. You can see even guys in ties practically face-down in fish carcasses, yanking crabs and lobsters apart... This is a good place NOT to go on weekends - it's always fairly busy, but weekends see almost as many people standing around waiting to get in as already are.
re: Ciao Bob
Understood, and good choice: I can't fully enjoy the cuisine of the world's most populous nation with out lots of drink and toasts.
So, for hot pot many on this board recommend Little Sheep or Mon Land -- never been to either, so I cannot comment. My favorite has always been Lu Gi :