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Sep 10, 2008 10:12 PM

Any new/interesting chinese dishes in SGV?

Hi! I have friends visiting this weekend. Both in their mid 30s, one from HK and one from Singapore. So far I have decided to take them to Elite for dim sum (HK's fav), Savoys for the Hainan Chicken rice (Singaporean's fav.. though I think Savoy's is just okay).

I've moved from out of state to SGV 1.25 yrs ago, so relatively new. My question is this, does anyone know of any new exciting/delicious chinese dishes? Eg. few years back, a restaurant back home invented salty egg yolk prawn (direct translation), basically deep fried prawns coated with salty egg yolk and people flocked to try that out.

So I wonder if you can share any new chinese dishes that popped up lately... say the last few years here in SGV that drew you to try it out. I would love to introduce those to my friends. Thanks so much!

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  1. I can't speak for Hong-Kongers (Hong-kies in Singapore) but I would forget trying to impress a Singaporean with Singaporean food in the States. My wife is from Malaysia and we met in Singapore - the renditions here don't compare well, and picky Singaporeans will be very disappointed. Work with our area's strengths and your friend will be much happier.

    Does does he/she like things like wine, beer, etc? Booze is very expensive there, and the choices don't come close to here. Wine has become very popular in Asia in general, but the availability there doesn't even come close at the average consumer level. They seem to like their wine on the milder side - <12%. The lower in alcohol the better. Whites from Germany and Austria are popular but very expensive there. Wine bars, bars with great selections of artisan and Belgian brews, restos with great wine selections, even just doing wine/cheese kinda stuff at home is fun for them. Beer over there is very limited to lagers like Tiger, Kirin, Heinekin, etc. They don't have simple things like great sausages there so this and beer or wine would work as well. Also stone fruits are still abundant - any kind of fruit (get the good stuff) that is unavailable there would be appreciated as well. Wine/beer with cheese, sausages, salumi/charcuterie, fruits, veggies and some great dessert was greatly enjoyed by my bros-in-law and that's now a standard when they visit.

    Tons of trendy restos are now hot in Singapore - if you want to go somewhere nice, you might want take them somewhere like Palate, Fraiche, Apple, or anywhere else that has great food but with a California slant.

    Italian sucks in Singapore - if you take him to a truly good Italian place, that would probably be eye-opening.

    Oddly, my bro-in-law who lives in Singapore, loved Peruvian food. I love it as well but wasn't sure if he would. Every time he is out here, he now needs it. Our/his favorite is Kotosh at Kamiyama in Lomita. In particular, he loves just about all seafood dishes, particularly any cebiches, tiraditos, choros a la criolla, tallarin saltado, picante de mariscos, sudado mixto, and chicharron de mixto al ajo - we ate all of these dishes and he couldn't get enough of it - he literally wanted to lick the plates clean and order some more dishes to go. There's nothing that really comes close to it in Singapore.

    Basic American barbeque is another thing that doesn't exist there. Even grilling on your own bbq at home will work. A prime-grade steak grilled to perfection is practically impossible to get in Singapore and truly enjoyed by our guests.

    I think one of the SGV Chinese meals that both of my bros-in-law from Singapore enjoyed were xiao long bao. Mei Long Village got kudos from both for just about everything we ordered. Evidently, Shanghainese isn't so common over in Singapore - yet.

    Another cuisine we are going to try next time is Middle East or Persian. Reason being, Singaporeans love grilled stuff. Kabobs are first in line on our next Singaporean EAting Adventures in LA...

    21 Replies
    1. re: bulavinaka

      Wow, thanks so much for taking the time to write up your recommendation, really appreciate it. You're right, I should go with SoCal's strengths and pick different food/fruits/drinks that's new to them.

      I mentioned chinese initially since I live in SGV, ha, wanna see what they think as that's definitely a strength in SGV. I've added Mei Long to the list instead of Savoy (big upgrade =), I have always wanted to try their xiao long bao coz I heard it's closer to Taiwan's Din Tai Feng which I absolutely loved (not Arcadia's DTF).

      Thanks to your tips regarding how Singaporean love grill stuff, kabob and BBQ suggestion, I will bring them to Park's BBQ in KTown (salivating just thinking about it). My friend love to drink too, so we can get some korean soju there too (kill several birds with one stone =).

      I will save Palate, Fraiche, Apple for my next date instead =). The Peruvian suggestion really sounds good since they love seafood, I'll definitely suggest and urge them to try that out.

      Now I think I just need to read up Chow to find a couple of good chinese/cantonese restaurants here just in case. Continue reading. =)

      Again, thanks so much!! You have been most helpful.

      1. re: neakox37

        I can't blame you for starting your search in SGV - I would too. The depth and breadth of choices out there are mind-blowing. I'd run some suggestions by both to see if there are any commonalities - both Hong-kies and Singaporeans are notoriously picky about food so your work is cut out for you.

      2. re: bulavinaka

        I agree. There are probably 1,000 places to get excellent Hainan chicken rice at any time of the day in Singapore. I bet the Singaporean would be impressed by the Southern Thai menu at Jitlada. It has similarities to Malaysian but is very distinctive.

        1. re: aventinus

          I think you're right about Southern Thai, and Thai in general. As strange as it seems, I didn't notice nearly as many Thai restaurants in Singapore considering its geographic proximity, and most were hawker stall-type places. I think both folks would at least appreciate the heat of Jitlada's food.

          The OP has also mentioned Park's which is another great idea. Both of the OP's friends come from places where tastes fresh off the grill, out of the kitchen, etc., are essential. Hard to beat Korean BBQ in that sense, and that's another cuisine you don't see much of at least in Singapore.

        2. re: bulavinaka

          I second the Italian restaurant idea. I had some friends from Taiwan who had never eaten at an Italian restaurant before. It seems that Italian restaurants extremely expensive in Taipei. I took them to an average one here, and they were completely amazed.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            Excellent suggestions bulavinaka. :)

            1. re: exilekiss

              Just a feedback. Turned out that these 2 friends of mine are very "asian" and want basically asian food. They want to try Korean, Japanese and Cantonese Seafood. Took them to Park's BBQ, got the Prime Short Rib, Bulgogi, HotStone vege rice, and Beef Ginseng Soup. We all loved the soup, I loved the HotStone Pot rice, the rice was a tad soft for them (like the taste), I think I'm the only one who enjoyed the BBQ (though I think it's not the best), both were lukewarm about the BBQ. My friend didn't end up ordering soju nor beer, he's trying to keep his figure for his wedding in 2 months. =)

              They want to try Newport Seafood for its seafood. Now we're heading to Elite for dim sum. Just a quick feedback. Thanks!

            2. re: bulavinaka

              Have you noticed that when we go to Asia, our friends take us out for Asian food. Why is it that we always take them for Asian food when they come here? I have to agree with bulavinaka's barbecue suggestion. When a friend visited from Korea a few months ago, I took him to Porky's. He was completely blown away, and writes to talk about it.

              1. re: bagdoodle

                I agree but based only on my experience, it depends on how entrenched one's idea of what food is will allow for a host's options. I related to my bros-in-law who have a relatively broad palate and open mind for food, particularly when considering they are Chinese from Asia. Conversely, my FIL - their father - is VERY Chinese in what food is. He dismisses just about every dish and every cuisine except Chinese, some Korean, some Southeast Asian (since he's from Malaysia) and a little bit of Japanese (out of politeness). We sent him and my MIL on a mini-tour to Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas a few years back. No Chinese food to be had after leaving from SGV until arriving in Las Vegas. His words over the phone were something like, "The tour company was not accommodating at all to us. They are Chinese - our whole group is Chinese yet we had no meals that were Chinese - how rude and inconsiderate. We had to eat Italian - ugh - toe-may-toe (tomatoes) - ugh... Steak - so boring - ugh... Sandwiches are not lunch - ugh - where are the noodles and vegetables? Much better in Las Vegas though - we walked up the strip and down the strip and found Panda Express - very good meal!" Was the guy desperate or what?

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  I have to agree with you, bulavinaka. I had forgotten completely about the time I was in Shanghai, thoroughly enjoying the food, and one of the other Americans became the talk of the entire gathering by refusing to eat anything at all other than Western-style food during the whole several days that we were there..

                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    That's a very good point. Cultural culinary prejudices are often hard to overcome.

                    1. re: bulavinaka

                      That's why tours packaged out of Monterey Park, as well as other Chinese-American tour packagers offer the tours that provide Chinese food exclusively on their European tours. Believe me, your father-in-law may well be the rule, not the exception.

                      1. re: Chandavkl

                        I think for those over, say 50 and from Asia, it's the law... I have a friend from Taiwan whose father won't even go out to eat - must have HOME-COOKED Chinese food. He refuses to come out here to visit her and her family for that sole reason.

                        1. re: bulavinaka

                          Ha.. I used to lived in the MidWest and guess what my parents enjoyed the most? Yup, americanized chinese buffet.

                          My final report. We went to Elite for dimsum, I absolutely loved Elite, my friends preferred NBC instead and dissed Elite. Oh.. I don't dare to criticize her since she's from HK. The positive everyone loved the frog leg at Elite. As for me, I thought their har gow is the best in US, the rest were great too. =)

                          Then took them to the Hokaido Fair, but the special noodle was out. But they enjoyed the trip the trip to Torrance though. We trip the Kari Bao (Curry puff) and ice cream which we all thought was just so so.

                          For dinner I took them to Kiriko on Sawtelle for sushi and sashimi. They liked Kiriko, everyone loved the white fish sashimi especially the barracuda and halibut. They saw Hui Low Sun and wanted to have dessert there, I was warned by a friend not to go there, but my friends insisted. So we went, and all were disappointed. =)

                          Recommended several other places to them for Monday since I had to work. The picked Sunday Bistro and glad to hear to enjoyed their meal there. Dinner they wanted congee/porridge, so we went to Lu's Garden. They liked it.

                          Tuesday, they decided to try Thai, so they went to Jitlada. Wow.. they totally trashed Jitlada; they disliked pretty much all 3 of the dishes they ordered. Yikes, very surprising to me. They said Yelp's rating for Jitlada is overrated.. ha.

                          For dinner, they wanted to eat seafood at Newport. They loved Newport, whew, glad to hear that. So I didn't do too well in terms of recommendation, but I realized their taste now which is quite different than mine. Hopefully I'll do better next time, thanks again for all the suggestions provide, again I truly appreciate it.

                          1. re: neakox37

                            Thanks for the great update! NBC over Elite? From a Hong-kie? Wow - well NBC will be glad to here that... What's that say for the state of things in HK? ;-) Our last few visits to NBC (last one was early last year) started out ok to very good, then slid downhill, typically with strange chlorine-smelling chicken dishes toward the end of our meals... GAAK! We figured three times was plenty enough to figure that it was no fluke the first or second time. Oh well, everyone has their own palate to satisfy, right?

                            Going to Torrance and Sawtelle is a pretty fair trek for you - hats off to you. I missed the fair but Kiriko is usually a sure-bet for very good sushi, some unique in-house artisan stuff, and good cooked small dishes as well - glad you chose Kiriko, and more so that they liked it.

                            I can see your Hong Kong friend not liking Jitlada, but the Singaporean? Hmmm, but then again, based on the few times I had Thai there, I was never impressed with the state of Thai food in Singapore - maybe it was too ethnic for them...

                            All in all, IMHO, if your first year batting average is above .250 with folks from those two countries, you're doing great. You batted .666 which is stellar. Again, I've never run into people more openly critical about food in general than those from that part of the world. Just don't reciprocate when going there - they'll claim that nothing compares - except NBC... ;)

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              Yeah, in fact it was my Singaporean friend that trashed Jitlada and the HK friend agreed too. Ha.. I agree with you, it's probably too ethnic for them. I told them luckily I didn't recommend another Thai restaurant (I believe it's northern Thai) where the menu is available only in Thai. Cannot remember the name now. Yeah, very surprised though. I wonder if taking an extra hour for them to find the place had something to do with it. =)

                              Yep, NBC over Elite.. confused the heck out of me. She thought the dimsum was a tad bland, that she had to add soy sauce. I dunno, she compared every dimsum to HK and told me the difference.

                              I gotta say, their palate is slightly different than mine for sure. Honestly I am very surprised that they dislike the heavy favorite like Elite, Park's BBQ, and Jitlada. Again, thanks so much for the help, truly appreciate it. Have a good one!

                              1. re: neakox37

                                Hi nea,

                                I agree with bulavinaka... NBC over Elite is just wrong. :P I've had Dim Sum on a trip I had to Asia (stopping by Taipei and Hong Kong amongst other locales) and ate the "locals only" version. To call NBC much better than Elite is just egregious, but everyone's palate is different, so if they like it... more power to them. :)

                                1. re: exilekiss

                                  You don't have to go to Asia--you can go to Vancouver or Toronto and probably find a couple of dozen places that would put NBC to shame (and I'm a fan of NBC). And you're right, there's no accounting for taste.

                                  1. re: Chandavkl

                                    I agree with both of you, exilekiss and Chandavkl.

                                    But I think it might be a bit too glib to just dismiss NBC as inferior to a place like Elite.

                                    For example, there are those who really do not appreciate the more preciously constructed -- nouveau or haute -- dim sum of Elite (and others of that ilk).

                                    Some people (like some folks from my grandparents' generation) just want the basics, served quickly, without all the fuss of making a shrimp dumpling look like a duck, or a fried cuttlefish resemble some ornate faux-Christmas ornament.

                                    This is why answering the question of "best dim sum in the SGV" is like trying to untangle the proverbial tangled web with a blindfold.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      Hi ipsedixit,

                                      Very true; totally agree with that angle. :) I still remember going to NBC and Ocean Star years ago and they were far better than they are now. I can appreciate the no fuss, traditional Cart-style Dim Sum (^_~), but NBC and Ocean Star both have fallen far from the quality level they used to be at, so I was commenting on it more from a general cooking execution / quality point-of-view. :)

                            2. re: neakox37

                              Not surprised by their dislike of Thai food. Many East Asians (Chinese/Japanese/Korean/Vietnamese) dislike Thai, and prefer Indian for their spicy fix. My theory is that Thai food is "close enough" to Chinese food, and is therefore judged using Chinese standard. It's the same problem Michelin judging Italian food using French standard.