The Great Mall of China
I'm looking through some old notes and find a big ten year old LA Times article by J. Gold and Laurie Ochoa singing the praises of San Gabriel Square. Any contemporary opinions?
Some quick notes based on my experience:
Tung Lai Shun (Chinese Islamic): great scallion bread and lamb dishes
Shanghai Kitchen: good dumplings and other hot snacks; not quite as good as Din Tai Fung but cheaper
Sam Woo (BBQ): crowded and sometimes a bit greasy, but some days that duck just really hits the spot
Juon Yuan: Nice Beijing-style dishes; try the ice fish in soybean
Seafood Hot Pot: All you can eat for under ten bucks, plus make-your-own slushies. Great bang for the buck, but sit away from the obnoxiously loud video games.
Ranch 99: The seafood tanks can be a fun place to stroll with a date after dinner ... hmmm, wonder why I never get any second dates ...
The owners of the plaza must be raking in big $--this place is packed all the time! And why not? It has everything you need plus good food to boot.
I concur with most of Bradbury's assessments. That Sam Woo BBQ duck can be really satisfying. The 99 Ranch has a great selection of fresh seafood. Last time, I saw these live, huge shrimp with blue feet which I've never seen before.
Of all of the restaurants, I'd only stay away from Hot Pot place. Enjoyed it while eating, but afterwards, had terrible stomach cramps.
The Sam Woo Seafood Restaurant on the top floor doesn't get the recognition it deserves. I haven't been here for dim sum in a long while, but for dinner, it's excellent (so different from its brother restaurants of the same name). Last Sunday, I had a spectacular winter melon soup, the kind where the broth is sitting inside the melon. It's on special for $14.99, and was more than enough for 5 people (3 of us had 3 bowls each because there was so much melon flesh.) Being a soup lover, I was in heaven. We also always get the crab sauteed with fried garlic and chilies--divine! They know how to make this dish better than almost anywhere else. Meat is fresh and sweet, just enough floor used to crisp the edges either (I find that other places like NBC put way too much flour and lose the crab taste) and the accompanying garlic is just the right side of pungent.
If you like beef jerky, try the little store on the first floor near the hair salon. They only speak Mandarin but all of their food is labeled in English. Get the beef tendons (not too chewy, marinated in a chili soy sauce). If you put them in the fridge after you get home, they get a nice slightly gelatinous texture, fun to eat while watching a movie.